For all of the hardships that come with taking care of a loved one with Alzheimer’s, I wouldn’t change the experience for me and my family. I’ve talked about some of the difficulties we faced from keeping Grandma’s schedule to the feelings of inadequacy that can squeeze their way into how we feel about ourselves on our worst days. For this, I’d like to spend some time talking about the benefits I experienced in caring for Grandma Lilly.
The first comfort that came from taking care of Grandma Lilly in our home was knowing that she was safe at all times. It can be hard to leave a loved one with people that you do not know and my family was fortunate to have the means to incorporate Grandma Lilly into our lives. We knew where she was and if we ever began to worry, we could walk in and check on her. It was a simple comfort that alleviated one of the biggest anxieties.
There is always the fear in leaving your loved one in the hands of others that they won’t be treated right or that they don’t like where they are. However, in patients with dementia, it becomes difficult to trust what they say when they are losing touch with reality around them. In having Grandma stay with us, we could verify the things she said. For example, when a she said she had not had her medications, we knew when this wasn’t true as we had the family members right there in our home to check in. We were the ones making sure she had her meals. When visiting a loved one in a facility, it can be difficult to hear them say things that can make you feel like they aren’t being cared for if they were true. In taking care of her on our own, we knew when she was incorrect and could be there to comfort and reassure her that she was safe.
Something I’ve written about before — I felt a lot of pride that Grandma Lilly knew her space was built for her. I felt accomplished in giving that space to her and being able to care for her the same way she was able to help care for me when I was a kid. I met Grandma Lilly when I was 13 and to be able to give back something after all she had shown me through her grace and poise was an honor. Even on the worst days, I still had that pride and positive energy that I could bring to being there for her.
One of the more surprising positives that came out of caring for Grandma Lilly was the life lessons that my children learned and how much I learned about them. They learned what it means to care for someone. Brought them an opportunity to live through that responsibility and how to get through it with calm and determination. And truly, I watched my children grow up. I got to see how patient they can be in face of frustration. My son and daughter truly showed how soft and kind they can be. We all wonder what we are capable of when we are young. Many young people have no idea what it will be like to deal with that kind of adversity. I truly believe that this experience helped my kids grow into better people. The lessons they learned will stick with them into every part of their lives and I wouldn’t give that up for the world.
All of this has helped fuel my passion to care for seniors afflicted with Alzheimer’s and Dementia. I have seen the hard parts and the good that can come from them. I understand how much this disease can affect everything around it. A lot of this experience has helped me not only find my passion, but also shown me the kind of people that I want to provide care at Kemper House Central Ohio. I want people who can find this work as rewarding as I have. I want people who fight through the struggle to learn and incorporate incredible life lessons that this kind of work has to offer. I want people who have a passion for caring for others and there can be no exceptions.
My experience with taking care of Grandma Lilly has made me a better person and I believe it will have only a positive effect on on how we care at Kemper House Central Ohio.