Planning and routines originated in my childhood. Even before the days of helicopter moms and overscheduled afterschool activities, my mother had me on a tight schedule from birth: sleeping, eating, playtime. It set the stage for my future.
In the business world, my Year-at-a-Glance wall calendar was filled with seminars, trips, and meetings. Suddenly leaving the security of that perfectly choreographed life to take care of my mother was not part of the plan.
As caregivers, we live unplanned lives. We must do our best to live life a day at a time, and when that’s too difficult, try to stay in the moment, to live in the “now” of what caregiver Bob DeMarco calls Alzheimer’s World.
All the planning in the world can’t guarantee results, but it will guarantee heartburn unless I remember that I’m not in charge.
I’m two years into an encore career. Although I found my passion – writing – at an early age, my life took a vastly different turn, ultimately landing me in a 25-year insurance sales career.
Life changed dramatically when I exited the corporate world and abruptly entered the world of dementia caregiving. Caring for my mom has become an unexpected career which sometimes seems more like a duty.
In reality, caregiving is the best form of service, even if it doesn’t feel like it. It’s taken a while to embrace this; longer to actually live it. Being of service has long been part of my life, through volunteering at animal rescues and helping others in recovery. Now, I’m giving back by writing about the caregiving experience. And with that, I move closer to finding my true purpose.
Confession: I’m a caregiver, and I have no idea what I’m doing.
Two years ago, I shifted from a 25-year sales career to becoming the primary caregiver for my mother, who lives 3000 miles away. Mom’s been suffering from Alzheimer’s for the past few years, I learned, as I spent more time with her. And she’s aware that she’s slowly slipping, but refuses to acknowledge this, because of her religious beliefs. Disease of any type is a topic we never talk about. For her, to acknowledge dementia would be to admit that it’s real and to believe that God’s plan has been altered.
She doesn’t need overnight care yet, but recently, I hired a paid caregiver to help out when I travel “home” every two months. Home, I’ve found, is not a place. It’s wherever my heart takes me.
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