The following is a Michigan caregiver’s story sent to WWJ, told in her own words.

What a blessing it is to be able to give back to the one person who gave you life.  What a blessing it is to be able to share some of the most precious and important years of your parents life.  I am a 54-year-old single woman who has been taking care of my dear mother for more than 10 years now. 

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I have a full time job with an engineering consulting firm as the Office Manager.  I have a single sister, a nurse, in Woodbridge, VA and a married brother in Richmond, VA. 

Back in January 2002 my mom told me that she no longer wanted to live alone and that she felt her time was near.  Mom was telling me this while I was driving to church.  I told her that she and I would talk about it when I got home.

I thought things over very carefully and I was ready to respond when I called her back.  I told her that I would bring her boxes after work on Monday for her to start packing and that I would look for housing all on one level to accommodate her needs.  At the time I was living in a townhouse. 

I got lucky and was able to move across the street from my townhouse into a dwelling all on one floor.  Mom and I moved together on February 28th.  From that moment on, my life changed and went in a totally different direction

Shortly thereafter, Mom was diagnosed with alzheimers and we started an entirely different journey from that moment on.  I became the enemy at times and she felt that I was stealing everything that she could not find.  I had noticed some signs of this before she moved in with me but I was not sure and I didn’t mention it to the doctors until later. 

Once we got the medication started, it was somewhat more comfortable but for only a certain period.  She would wake me up at night asking for her purse, her money, and her banking account information.  There were times when she would also threaten me.

My heart knows that she loves me and I try to understand what she is going through at the time, believe me, you can’t.  I love her so much and I try so hard to deal with her needs and keep her as comfortable as possible I gave my life up just to be there for her as much as possible.

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During the last year, I have had to get a home health care provider to stay with her for the 40 hours a week that I am at work this is extremely expensive for me — the State of Michigan is paying $998 a month and I am paying $1,000 per month.

Mom is totally dependent upon me and she is demanding at times.  Even with the help of the caregiver during the day, she insists on having me do things for her instead.  Of course her condition has worsened and she has had a stroke since then as well as other medical setbacks.

I want to please her so much for all that she has given me in my lifetime and I have to say that there are times when you don’t feel appreciated.  Mom is my life now I don’t leave her to do social things.  I can only do things where she can be included.

Home Health Care is very expensive alone with the other necessities of life.  I take great pride and it is a privilege to be able to bring joy to her.  I love it when I come home from work and she smiles at me.  Sometimes when she is upset she will button her clothes wrong and put her shoes on the wrong feet and take her empty purse and tell me to take her to the nursing home to stay because she can’t find her money.

After I cry I find myself laughing and thanking God for the joy in my heart because at least she still recognizes me as her daughter.  I have found that as you travel this journey with someone who is so near and dear to your heart you have to remove the bitterness and pain if not then you are no good to them (the patient). 

None of us have seen all of our days we can only hope that we made a difference in someones life and that our deed will be returned when we need it most.

– Glenice in Oak Park, Michigan

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