The split personalities of a caregiver

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Source: ON LABELS, ROLES AND MARRIAGE WITH ALZHEIMER’S This linked article does a fabulous job of putting a spotlight on the roles we take on when we become caregivers. Does our original role as: wife, husband, son, daughter, brother, sister, disappear when that role-shift takes place?

I’ve known numerous caregivers in my life. I was one.

A younger me with my dapper dad
A younger me with my dapper dad

Before I became a caregiver, I was a daughter. Was I still a daughter once my role as a caregiver became a 24/7 occupation?

It didn’t feel like it when:

  • I had to cut up my father’s food for him
  • I had to pack adult protective underwear when I took him on a walk in the park … just in case
  • I had to correct him for behavior unbecoming of an adult
  • I took him to a doctor appointment and spoke to the doctor on my father’s behalf
  • I tucked him in for a nap so I could get things accomplished without him being tethered to me wherever I went …

Was I his parent? Was I his caregiver?

No. I was his daughter. I took on a variety of roles during the years of my father’s decline with Alzheimer’s, but I was always his daughter. As a matter of fact, never had I felt more like a daughter than during the five years of his illness.

During one of my walks in the park with dad, on his last Father’s Day as it turned out to be, two young men rode their bikes toward us and as they got right up to us, one of the men said, “Happy Father’s Day, Sir.”

That young man saw a daughter and a father, not a caregiver and an old man.

Dad took his parenting role very seriously. By the time I was on my own, he had been actively mentoring and caring for me for twenty-one years.

What’s five years in the grand scheme of things?

A privilege.

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7 thoughts on “The split personalities of a caregiver

    MCI Alice said:
    February 3, 2016 at 12:44 pm

    I am extremely flattered that you linked to my post. It sounds as if you had a very special relationship with your dad all of your life, before and after Alzheimer’s.

      boomer98053 responded:
      February 3, 2016 at 12:54 pm

      You are very welcome. Yes, my father and I were very close, especially after the death of my mother in 1994. Mom’s death made dad a single man for the first time in 48 years. I was also single at the time, so that commonality created a very strong bond prior to his falling ill and after he became ill with Alzheimer’s it grew even stronger. Loved him … LOVE him and miss him so much.

    Don Desonier said:
    February 3, 2016 at 8:14 am

    Thank you Irene for both your wonderful observations and insights, and your allowing me to re-remember Dad. Thank you for your selfless and fully heartfelt care of Dad, as the loving and caring daughter you were.

      boomer98053 responded:
      February 3, 2016 at 8:17 am

      It really was a privilege as I know you believed when you took care of Nancy. For better or worse, as the saying goes.

    Jill Weatherholt said:
    February 3, 2016 at 7:21 am

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story, Irene. Great photo!

      boomer98053 responded:
      February 3, 2016 at 7:29 am

      During that Father’s Day walk, my dad wasn’t fully aware of what the young man had said; I brought it to Dad’s attention, however, so he could receive the greeting. But let me tell you, it made my day, and still does, even though it occurred in June of 2007. We all need to remember how important kind words are. A comment here, a comment there, costs nothing but might mean the world to someone else.

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