Choice is a luxury and usually a gift. As a caregiver to a loved one, the absence of choice is a difficult concept to grasp when you are accustomed to the illusion of choice and control in your life. It is earth- shaking to have circumstance thrust upon you, pushing you towards decisions that may go against your grain. – Tania Richard
My mother was diagnosed with dementia in the summer of 2011. At the time, my youngest kids were three and one. My blended family includes my husband, four kids and a large sheepdog living in a three bedroom townhouse. There was no room for my Mother to live with us comfortably, and no funds to pay for a 24-hour caregiver, which she needed because she could not be left alone.
My parents didn’t plan for their retirement. Their choice determined that I had few options when it came to choosing where my mother would live. The nursing home with a dementia unit I chose would have to be one covered by Medicaid.
She would be fed, clothed and housed with no adornment or extra amenities. My Mother, a private woman, would share a room with two other people.
I could choose to wreck myself over the fact that my Mother was living there, or I could choose to accept it and focus on the fact that she was safe and physically sound.
I had to remind myself that my Mother had not been living a quality life for the past year as her home fell into disrepair and her hygiene declined. The nursing home would be an improvement. I would have to tell myself that every time I visited her.
She was happy in her new environment and made new friends. My Mother before her diagnosis would never have been happy in the nursing home. My Mother with dementia was quite content.
Finally, I felt as if I could make a choice that would empower me and the Serenity Prayer was a guiding force:
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference.
These are wise words for caregivers to live by as they navigate the world for the person in their charge.
About the Blog Author Tania Richard
In addition to being a wife, mother, writer, actress and teacher, Tania Richard was a caregiver for her mother, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2011 and passed away the following year. In the short time Tania was her mother’s caregiver, she learned a great deal about the challenges caregivers face.