Thursday, February 17, 2011

Lessons I've Learned During My Time As An Alzheimer's Caregiver

I pray for those who are in the same place I once lived. May they all find peace of mind, strength to bear each day, and find moments of joy and happiness to fill up their darkest hours...
By Janet Stinson Therrien

Thank you so much for your articles of your experiences with Dotty as they were very comforting in so many ways.

My precious Mother is released from the torture of Alzheimer's Disease as she passed away on February 9, 2011 from complications of an illness that was short lived of 5 days.

We, her children, are still a bit in shock of the vastness in quickness of the events of her passing. But as I reflect over the 6+ years of being a caregiver to not only her but my father-in-law during this time, I am beginning to see what it's all about for me.

What I have learned and experienced was patience, understanding, pure unconditional love.

I have learned what I can live without in my life and that I don't need material baggage or best of this or that. I have learned to cherish each moment and smile. Joys of the little things in life is what is most important to me now.

Infectious laughter and giggles as we held each others hand to walk. Singing out songs in the middle of meals and clapping our hands at a moment's notice. Sharing milkshakes in the middle of the night because that would be all she could eat or wanted to eat.

Did I struggle? Did I cry? Did I want to give up? Yes, YES. YES! but I didn't, because I wouldn't, because my Mother couldn't.

Do I have guilt of choices I made for her? Yes, at times, but I know I did the best I could at the time those choices had to be made in the time span I was given for her well being.

Where do I go from here? Is my role as a caregiver over? Now what? Well, I don't know where I'm going, but I hope I will use the lessons I have learned to be better at helping others.

I don't believe my role as a caregiver will ever be over.

I'm just resting at the moment to be prepared for the next family member or neighbor or friend who may be in need of my help. So for now, I will gather up my reflections of the past experiences and use this time to explore and find ways to live out my life, but I'm not sure it will be as meaningful as taking care of my own parents.

I hope and pray and support the Alzheimer's Association in finding a cure for this affliction. I pray for those who are in the same place I once lived. May they all find peace of mind and strength to bear each day and find moments of joy and happiness to fill up their darkest hours.

Thank you Bob for sharing such a precious part of your life with everyone. Blessings to you and Dotty.

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Original content Janet Stinson Therrien, the Alzheimer's Reading Room