As a former primary caregiver for my mother, who passed away on Christmas Eve 2021, watching dementia slowly take away her memory and cognitive functioning was one of the most difficult times of my life, but also the most rewarding. She was my mom, my hero, yet at times she did not know who I was. There were those times when I fought to hold back the tears when she would say "I don't know your name, but I know that I love you", or when she would ask "when is Dawn coming home?" and when I would respond I am Dawn she would say "no, my Dawn and put her hand up to show the size of a child." Many nights she would say she needed to call Betty (her sister who passed in 2014 after suffering many years with Alzheimers) to come pick her up, or she would say "I need to call my parents, they must be so worried I am not home yet." Then there were the times when she was upset as she could not find her kids (her kids who now range from 56 to 70). Years of this takes a toll on both the one suffering from the disease and their caregivers and loved ones. We were fortunate, as we were able to care for mom in her own home. Mom never became combative or fearful, which many who suffer do, and though everyday was challenging we made sure everyday was also filled with love and laughter, which is not always easy under the circumstances. The photo above is a good example of the laughter, mom was good at keeping us laughing...her expression in the photo was her response when we told her she was 93.
My advice to caregivers and loved ones, try to find time to laugh everyday, take time to take care of you, and lean on others during these challenging times. Thank you to my family and friends who helped me get through those difficult times, especially, Rene, Theresa, John, Debbie, Georgia, Ellaine, and Linda.
Alzheimer’s isn’t stopping and neither are we. By participating in the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s, I’m raising funds and awareness to advance the fight against this disease — funds that allow the Alzheimer’s Association to provide 24/7 care and support while accelerating critical research.
Families facing Alzheimer’s and all other dementia need us now more than ever — and with your help, we can be there for them. Please make a donation or register as a participant and start your own fundraising. Together, we can end Alzheimer’s disease.
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