Last week, I decided to go out of my "comfort zone" and check out an Alzheimer's Caregiver Support Group I had recently become aware of. Honestly, one of my biggest hesitations was the fear that many of the people attending would be closer to my mom's age than mine. Unfortunately, I find that a bit of a slap in the face...the fact that it appears to be more common for people my mom's age to be the one taking care of a parent with AD. Not that I have anything against sharing experiences with anyone of any age...it's just that it rubs a little salt in the wound.
I walked in to a table of only about 7 people. Luckily, the director who runs the group knows who I am from the Encore senior care that my mom goes to. She joked with me and said, let me guess..."Your name is Cindy and you're an Alzheimer's Caregiver"?? Yes, this is true. Also, my instincts were right, the other caregivers were not 40 somethings like me.
However, everyone was very nice, we went around and briefly told of our particular experience. It is sad. One woman is a caregiver to her 91-year-old mother, and she also just lost her husband about 8 months ago. Another man has a 63-year-old wife whom he is taking care of. He is concerned that this will trigger his prior problems with alcohol abuse. Another woman just had her mother put in respite care and the social worker had to talk to her for an hour to get her to cooperate. Then, that same woman's husband walked out on her and her family in the middle of it all. Yikes. Heavy stuff. One of the hardest things is trying to balance caring for my kids and my mom.
My kids are my priority, and my mom would want her grandkids to be my priority if she understood the strain that caring for her is putting on all of us. At the support group, we were given some reading material about taking care of ourselves, how to do that, and why it's so important. Sounds like common sense, right? It's harder than it might seem. I will work on it. Actually, in preparing this post I took a look at some of the material they gave us. I guess I need to work on my pyramid!
In a related update, I did have a "family meeting" this past weekend with my brother, sister-in-law, my husband and me to discuss many things about my mom, her health, her care, her living situation, her condo, etc... My brother and sister-in-law were thankfully open to my request of commiting to take my mom a couple days a week for 5-6 hours. It was good for us to regroup as a family and make sure everyone has the same ideas of what is best for everyone.
Meanwhile, my mom has had an okay week. Her coordination and walking abilities have not been great. More on that next Monday, gotta go work on my pyramid!