Tamesha from Pennsylvania
I started caregiving for my mother, Mary, in March 2012 after my father died. As her husband, he was her long-time caregiver and companion. Although my mother survived a massive brain hemorrhage and coma that occurred in 2000, she was unable to live by herself. So she relocated from her home in North Carolina to live with me in Florida. Later that year, she was diagnosed with moderate Alzheimer's/dementia. In 2013, she was diagnosed with stage 4, breast cancer. Coping with the realities of these two, horrible diseases was the most challenging part of being a caregiver.
I was her sole caregiver and provider even though I had a full-time job. Thus, I did everything. Reflecting on our experience, it was definitely our faith in God, His grace, and strength that brought us through that journey. Despite the challenges, I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be with my mother and create precious memories during the last two and a half years of her life. I would not trade that experience for anything in the world. I felt it was the least that I could do since she had sacrificed so much for me as a stay at home mom.
Additionally, I was very fortunate to have found resources to assist with caregiving. The advice I would give other family caregivers would be to make sure that you develop a strong support system because you are going to need it. Take advantage of the available resources that are out there and most importantly, be sure to take care of yourself (i.e., spiritually, emotionally, and physically) because you cannot help your loved one if something happened to you. For those who are not caregivers (yet), I would strongly advise you to prepare yourselves by ensuring that all of your affairs and those of your loved ones are in order in the event that caregiving is needed. Things like power of attorneys, insurance, financial planning, and caregiving strategies should not be ignored.
Finally, I firmly believe strongly that more resources are needed for caregivers due to the significant responsibility that they have in caring for loved ones. To all of the caregivers out there, just know that your tremendous labor of love is not in vain!