Jul 29, 2010

From Birth to Alzheimer's

By Angil Tarach-Ritchey
Alzheimer's Reading Room

One week ago our 3rd grandchild was born!  I was fortunate to be there for his birth, and as a nurse closely watched the medical staff.  I think births, and deaths always cause me to pause and think, like I'm sure many of you.

Since my career has been focused on the care and advocacy of the elderly, it's very different than the focus of the medical professionals attending to births.  Almost like 2 different worlds.

This last week while I thought about my precious new grandson, I thought about all the mother's who birthed babies that are now elderly and affected by Alzheimer's. I look at my grandson and wonder what his future holds?

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If you've read my article called Love Letters you know how important I believe knowing a person's life history is when providing care.  So during my week of contemplation following my grandson's birth, I thought about the client's I have worked with, and their birth's.

Do you think many care provider's ever think about the birth of the one they're caring for? I would venture to guess this thought is infrequently visited.  Not only is it important to think about in the history of the care recipient, but I think it's also important to think of it in a mother's perspective.

The person you care for has or had a mother.  That mother no doubtedly loved their child like no other.  If you've ever had a baby, you know the tremendous incomparable love you felt when the baby arrived.  Your care recipient's mother also had hopes and dreams for their baby's future, just like mother's today.

As I sit here as a mother of 2 adult son's, 3 adult stepchildren,  3 grandchildren and another on the way, I know what I hope for all of them....nothing but great things.  That hope will not one day stop.  There is no decade of their life that I will stop wishing the best for them.  Whether I am here or not I want the best for all of them, throughout their ENTIRE lives.

So as you care for an elder, remember that their mother also wanted the best for them.  She didn't stop wanting the best either.  So in her honor, and the honor of the person or people you care for, take a moment to think about her love for her now elderly child.  Be the person that you would want to take care of your child, young or old. Give your care recipient the best.  Acknowledge their life prior to loss of independence. Understand that they deserve nothing less than the best you have to give.  It is an enormous honor to care for someone.  You have been trusted with their life. When providing care, ask yourself how you would want your child cared for, and let that guide the care you provide.

The best care always comes from a place of empathy.  Not only do I recommend putting yourself in the shoes of who you care for, but add to that by putting yourself in their mother's shoes.

Angil Tarach-Ritchey (RN, GCM) is a national expert in senior care. With over 30 years experience in senior care and advocacy Angil is well respected in her field, as the owner of Visiting Angels homecare agency in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Angil writes for several websites including the Alzheimer’s Reading Room, Wellsphere, and AnnArbor.com. Her articles appeared in the Chicago Sun Times, Maturity Matters, Medpedia, and several other publications. Angil has been featured in WE Magazine for Women, and Abecs Small Business Review. Angil is authoring the book “Behind the Old Face”, to change the perception of the elderly in America, with plans to develop a national training program.

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Original content Angil Tarach-Ritchey, the Alzheimer's Reading Room