National Caregivers Month: Amanda moved back home to help care for Mom
We’ve heard from so many self-sacrificing caregivers during National Caregivers Month – here’s another story from Amanda, who was traveling the world when she got the news of her mom’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis. Remember to add a tribute to the caregiver in your life at www.alz.org/nadam.
Two years ago my mother Joan, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the young age of 60. There is no way to describe how it feels to watch your parent slowly decline and lose the ability to do the everyday things we take for granted and see the frustration and confusion in her eyes. My mother is such an amazing woman and has always taken care of my family and me. I never thought I would be caring for her in this way at the age of 31.
This disease has taken my life in a completely different direction than I had planned. When I learned of my mom’s diagnosis, I had been traveling around Australia for a year and had planned on continuing my travels to other countries – until I learned of this disease. Once I came back to Santa Cruz and spent more time with my Mom, I realized there was nowhere else in this world that I needed to be besides here, helping to care for her. I recently took six months off of work to be with my mom while my Dad works full time. Because this disease struck so early, he doesn’t have the luxury of being retired and being able to commit more time to caring for my Mom himself so I do what I can to help. I now work part-time in the mornings and then go to my parents every day to care for my mom until my Dad gets home from work.
I have an older sister, Heather, and she along with my parents and I are very close as a family. This disease has been very hard on all of us in different ways. Caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s is a full time job even if they do not need the type of 24 hour care that comes later in the disease.
At times, I feel completely hopeless and wonder why I even bother. This disease is robbing my mother of the person she once was, it’s completely turned my family’s world upside down. My parents have been married for 42 years and I can’t even begin to understand the impact this has had on my Dad, losing the love of his life and dreams of a happy retirement to this awful disease. I haven’t started my own family yet, but when I do, my kids will never get to know the incredible woman my mother was before this disease. There’s nothing that we can do about this disease but raise money and awareness in hopes that other families don’t have to go through what we go through and hope that one day soon they will find a cure.
We are Walk to End Alzheimer’s not only to show our love and support for my Mom Joan, but in loving memory of my mom’s sister Nancy and her mother, my grandmother Rose, both of whom were afflicted with Alzheimer’s and passed away this year.
It is amazing to me that this disease is so underfunded yet everyone knows at least one person with this disease. And it can happen to anybody. It can happen to your mother, your cousin, your grandfather or your best friend. I also want to raise as much money as possible to keep the research going in hopes that scientists will find a cure for this devastating disease before I reach my mother’s age. I want to see the government provide more money for organizations like the Alzheimer’s Association who provide support, resources to families like mine and help fund research and clinical trials of preventative medication.
-Amanda, daughter, caregiver