As I write this, Iím getting ready to visit my parents, who live 2,000 miles away. My mother is in the middle stages of dementia, and my 84-year-old father is her primary caregiver. I visit every two to three months to see how my father is holding up and to offer whatever support I can. I feel lucky to have the flexibility in my schedule to be able to do this; I know itís a luxury many do not have.
As I pack my bag, I try to remember to pack my patience and understanding along with my clothes. I remember my visits five years ago; they focused on doctorsí appointments, testing, planning, and dealing with my own emotional turmoil as I worried about my momís future.
Now, I have learned that although I still have tasks to accomplish while Iím there, my most important role is to break the monotony and liven up the house. I will cook special meals and have the same conversation with my mom again and again. I will sleep in the upstairs bedroom next to my parents, because if I choose the downstairs room (which I really prefer), Mom will worry constantly about where I am. I will graciously accept her offer of clean towels, even though I already have a huge stack of them in my room. I will try to get my dad to go out for a walk each day on the trail he helped build. I will also take some time for myself every day, to exercise and read and remind myself that weíre all doing the best we can.
Cheers (and tears),
Seattle: October 2, 2007
Let Experience Speak is a new column designed to give you, the caregiver,
the opportunity to share helpful ideas, tips and hints that may enrich anotherís caregiving experience.
Articles should be 250 to 400 words and focus on day-to-day activities
experienced as a caregiver of someone diagnosed with dementia.
Send submissions to:
University of Washington
Seattle, WA 98195
or by e-mail to email@example.com
Please include an e-mail address or phone number in any correspondence.