I am 43 years old, and I care for my mom in Florida. I was living in New York until November 2004 when I moved in with my mom. I have no children, and I am not married. My sister on the other hand has a family and a home business, so me moving was the logical solution. I did have a good job and of course, paid too much for rent even in Queens, New York. I do not regret moving here with her because she is my mom and she raised me, so in turn I wanted to do for her.
How has it changed my life? Where do you begin; I left my friends, freedom and a very understanding boyfriend. I still keep in touch with my friends, and I have come to realize that they are true friends. I can call them anytime, day or night, and get support and laughter. These friends have been with me since I was an infant. Even though we used to tease each other saying our mothers picked our friend for life, it is so true. I love them dearly.
My day begins between 6:30 a.m. and 7 a.m. every morning. I work full time for the Alzheimer’s Association and go to school for my Master's in Counseling and Psychology. I have an aide come to stay with my mom while I work. If it was not for my mom's long-term care insurance, I would not be able to work. She is totally dependent on the aide or me for all her needs. She is in a wheelchair and will walk with prompting and someone holding on to her.
I have support from family and a special friend. The people that see us on a daily or weekly base know what it is like emotionally, not to mention the financial drain. People just do not understand what it is like to see your loved one have Alzheimer’s. You hear from old and new friends that they once knew them when they were well. And the common saying is "I cannot stand to see them this way." We as caregivers cannot stand to see them this way either, but we love them and have an unconditional love that will hold back the tears when they do not stand or they cannot feed themselves
My support system is good. I have neighbors who have stayed with my mom when I did not have anyone else to care for her. I have agencies that I found through the Association that have helped me more than my family ever could. I have a sounding board anytime I need through the Alzheimer’s Association, close relatives and my special friend who seems to be a godsend. He truly understands what it takes to care for an ill parent. Everyone provides the emotional support that I really need.
What I wish for is for people to realize that saying you are going to help a family is not enough. Go to them and ask them how they are doing. Caregivers do not get that question a lot. My second wish is to be able to sleep without worrying if Mom is awake and needing to get up; this is very minor. I get things done early, which is good when it gets hot.