Nacy from North Carolina
For 14 years, I provided care for my mother with Alzheimer’s who passed away at 89 years old. Being a long-term caregiver caused me to have significant stress and depression resulting in increased blood pressure and living on the verge of breaking down many times.
I was in my 50s juggling a full-time job, with her full-time care. Since my mother was a wanderer, or as some say a curious “wonderer,” my biggest concern was keeping her safe.
Oftentimes when my mom was at the mall, she would take anything that she liked. First I thought she was buying these things. But when she was accused of shoplifting, I had to really step in! There was no need to try to take the items away from her. She wouldn’t have any part of that. But I took everything I found in her house back the stores. The store clerks were very understanding. Each told me that the items she took would not break them and understood she was suffering from dementia.
I also took her to the police headquarters to explain the situation. The Chief of Police also knew about her and told me he was keeping an eye on her so she would not be harmed. He then notified the newspaper and invited everyone in town that had the same problem to come the headquarters to let him and the other officers on the force know about their family members so they could look out for those suffering from related impairments.
Obviously, the care and worrying about her was exhausting. If I could have had some respite and caregiver’s support it could have been life-changing and even life-saving. Working at Triangle J Council of Governments I was lucky that my employer understood my situation because sometimes I had to come in late or leave early. Working today in Alzheimer’s support programs, I know that not all employers equally understand what caregivers face.
I also learned quickly when she was finally forced into institutional care, how expensive the private pay system really is. When it came to paying for her care, the money did not last.