Caretaking 101

Guest Writer, Daryl Ouellette
Caretaking 101

I’m a caregiver. I am not an expert. I’m stumbling through this new situation, grasping to make sense of anything.

My mother (95) was diagnosed with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Which was my first surprise. I thought they were the same thing. Avoiding being technical about any of this: Dementia is an umbrella term covering a group of brain disorders, while Alzheimer’s is one of those disorders.

So, what was this thing affecting my mother? Brief description – it’s a disease that robs the patient of their mind, memories, and their personality.

Mom began forgetting – words, memories and now people. I’ve had to explain that the reason her mother never visits was because her mother died in 1982. Those faded grey eyes stared at me with incomprehension. She couldn’t understand how she didn’t know that.

Sadly, it turned out to be the first of many emotionally difficult discussions. I fear the moment she forgets who my father is. They’ve been married 74+ years. It’s heartbreaking knowing that some day she will blankly stare at him unable to grasp who he is. He, who in a romantic world, would slay a dragon for her.

Mom is in long-term care. Dad visits everyday. If weather keeps him at home, he is restless with worry. Is she okay? Scared? Sick? When he does visit, she is usually asleep. He sits beside her, holding her hand. A beautiful and precious moment.

I have 2 parents to be caregiver for, but soon, I will only have one. I will be there for mom, talking to and comforting her until her last breath. Then I will be there for dad, being a shoulder for him to lean on. Because I am their caregiver.

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