Shirley was living in beach community when her neighbors saw her attempting to walk five miles to the grocery store in the middle of a 90-degree day. She claimed she had no food, even though her refrigerator had been fully stocked just days earlier. When Shirley’s daughter in law, Melissa, learned of this incident, she quickly realized that Shirley was experiencing the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
Melissa and her family invited Shirley to move in with them and Melissa soon became her caregiver. Shirley would forget whose turn it was during board games. She carried around bananas, yogurt, and other foods, and stored them in her room. She wore excessive layers of clothing and insisted that her long-passed parents were on their way to pick her up.
After three years, Melissa began to feel that she wouldn’t be able to care for Shirley by herself for much longer. Long work hours, a lack of support, and denial from other family members, made caregiving seem nearly impossible. It seemed like a never ending battle. Her family was tired, her marriage was strained, and her children were not getting the attention they craved.
LSS/NCA didn’t have a caregiving support program available at the time but Melissa has said that she wishes they did. With guidance from the Caregiver classes, Melissa would have known the steps to take to not only care for her mother but to care for herself and her family while carrying the burden of providing for an aging loved one. Today, Melissa works closely with the Caregiver Support Program, helping caregivers make time for their own spiritual, emotional, and physical wellbeing—those priorities which are often forgotten when struggling to care for another.
If you are a caregiver that needs a helping hand, please consider our Support U program.