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.
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?
- Baby Boomer + Aging Parent = a changing paradigm
- Adult children who parent their parents
- Ambiguous loss – the experience of caregiver spouses
- When illness makes a spouse a stranger