Dear Family Caregivers,
Today is a special day for me for two reasons. First, it is the ninth death anniversary of my beloved mother, Sophia, or as she liked to be called, Sophie. Second, this is the first day of the launch of my website and blog. Welcome!
The photo you see here is my Mom and Dad dancing the polka at my niece’s wedding in July, 2002. As you can tell, they were really having fun! This is how I like to remember them, enjoying life and each other. At the time, Mom was in the early stages of Alzheimer’s. She had been diagnosed with vascular dementia and Alzheimer’s in 2000.
One of my favorite sayings is, “The love of family is life’s greatest blessing.” I am blessed to have been born into a loving, creative, talented family with two sisters, Carol and Marcia, and two brothers, Frank and Mike. They, along with my husband Felix, provided support to me and our parents when Mom and Dad’s health began to fail. I was privileged to be Mom’s primary caregiver for three years after my father passed away suddenly in 2003.
Alzheimer’s affects the whole family. Responsibilities and relationships within the family will change. Disagreements may arise about the care of your loved one. Just knowing that what is happening to you has happened to others, can sometimes make life easier.
It is my experience that families attempt to care for their loved ones with Alzheimer’s for as long as possible, often at great personal sacrifice. I also know of families where this was not the case, and where the pressures of caring for a loved one created conflicts.
I am now retired, but caring for families was my career as a family life educator, professional counselor, and administrator. In fact, I have a passion for working with families, to support and assist them in a variety of circumstances and life stages. Yet, despite my professional training, at times I was overwhelmed with the responsibilities and challenges of caring for Mom. My family discovered a sense of greater closeness and cooperation as we worked together to care for Mom. It was such an honor to care for my folks in their time of need.
What I have to share with you will not be medical or legal advice. Instead, I will offer practical tips, suggestions, and recommendations for YOUR quality of life as a caregiver. I hope to use what I learned to help make life easier for you in your role. I will be calling on members of my family, as well as professionals in the field, to give you their advice, for what it’s worth. I even hope to use some of your creative ideas to share with other readers from time to time. Once in a while I will challenge you to perhaps try something new.
Please follow this blog over the course of the next few months to see if it can be of help in your role. Just click the “sign up” button and become part of my “extended family.” Send me an e-mail, if you’d like, so that I can keep you in my prayers.
I wish you peace, patience, and courage for the journey ahead!