Jamie from Alabama

My mother suffered from dementia for the last decade of her life. She passed away in March, 2011. During those years she was ill, the responsibility for caregiving was assumed by several members of my family. I have two sisters, four nieces (one of whom passed away in 2013), and a daughter. We all pitched in to help. In the early years, it was possible for us to take turns having her stay in our homes for several months at a time. Her illness had not yet progressed to the point where she could not be alone, so I continued to work my full-time job while she stayed with me. I had to juggle work responsibilities with doctor appointments, a couple of surgeries, and cooking meals, as I did not feel she should do that anymore on her own. Making sure she was eating when I was not at home was a challenge. My daughter, a college student at the time, would come home on weekends and holidays to help out. I frequently felt that I needed to be in two places at once - at home and at work. Finally, in 2009, it became apparent that Mum would need to live with one of us full-time, and my oldest sister took on that challenge. She was the only one of us no longer holding down a full-time job at that point. As she lived out of state, I took all of my weeks of vacation to go there and assist as much as possible. It was exhausting physically and emotionally for everyone. But in many ways, it did draw us closer as sisters and as our mother's daughters and granddaughters. We wanted her to be cared for as much as possible by her family. In her final months, her care became too physically difficult for my sister. Our mother needed round-the-clock nursing care, and then hospice. We were grateful for the resources we had available, as we know so many do NOT have the financial ability to pay for the kind of care our mother received in her final months. We want all families to get the support and resources they need to provide good care for their loved ones, and respite care for the caregivers.

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