National Caregivers Month: Molly misses being Daddy’s little girl
As we continue honoring Alzheimer’s Caregivers during National Caregivers Month, remember you can add your own tribute to a caregiver at www.alz.org/nadam. Today, we’re highlighting another young woman who is dealing with the Alzheimer’s diagnosis in a parent. Molly is only 29, but she has already experienced the tragic stresses of caregiving.
I have watched this disease develop in my dad for the past 6 years. It still amazes me to think about how much he has changed since his diagnosis. Every time I look at his innocent face and wandering eyes I am left speechless, wondering why this disease picked him. Since his diagnosis, I have been faced with an uphill battle. Every day he slips further away from knowing who I am, his little girl!
Yes, daddy’s little girl which is something I miss terribly. I constantly wish that I could just have my dad back. The man I admire and adore so much slips away painstakingly slowly from my grip every day. From the time he was diagnosed until today, my feelings for my dad have evolved and changed. I’ve grown to love and care for him so much more, and truly cherish every moment I spend with him. That care has become a different kind of care than one can imagine.
I have become his babysitter, not his little girl anymore. When we “hang out”, it is to make sure I am there to help him with whatever he needs. This has gone from nothing to everything. I entertain him so he isn’t bored and wandering around aimlessly, any and all tasks at hand. I am there to be his babysitter and watch over him. I always knew I loved my dad, but I didn’t know I would have to change my role from being his little girl to his “babysitter”.
Since his progression and his need for more care, the number of times that I have considered quitting my job and moving in temporarily helping my parents, is countless. Yet I think to myself, I am only 29 years old, how can I give up my life and live it solely with my parents. I want to give everything I have to them, which I can’t. I continue to provide all that I can and I know it isn’t enough. My lifestyle today is 80/20; which the 80 is my parents, especially my dad.
Most of my weekends I spend with my dad, caring for him while my mom works. We also have dinner together at least two or three nights a week. My goal is to try to give my mom a break and my dad a change of scenery. It is exhausting working full time and trying to carry on somewhat of a normal life while being a babysitter/caregiver to both my parents.
Most people who know me and my family’s situation say that I need to learn to be his daughter again and leave the care giving to my mom. When I look at my mom and dad, I know that I can’t, nor do I want to do that. I am learning to try and balance both, but with that, challenges come. The life we live is not glamorous by any means. We struggle every minute of everyday pondering what our next step will be. How long do we have to watch my dad suffer from this terrible disease? When is he just going to go completely over the edge off the cliff he is on and not remember anything? Why did this have to happen to him? There are so many questions that go unanswered and I cannot begin to count the number of times I get frustrated with our situation. I know deep down in my heart that I am cherishing every moment I spend with my dad, every word he says, every time his face lights up when I walk into the room. One day I won’t have any of that.
I could write a novel of my feelings, experiences and what I have gone through. I hope that everyone can learn to provide support and care to those who are dealing with the affects of this awful and deadly disease that we call Alzheimer’s. The number of people who are affected is increasing, and it is becoming more serious and deadly for families all over the world.
– Molly Vanden, daughter, caregiver