The Massachusetts/New Hampshire Alzheimer’s Association chapter has been incredibly helpful to me, and was instrumental in helping me line up initial supports when we received the diagnosis. One example was a support group for young people whose parents have early onset. I attended this group pretty regularly for about a year, but I often felt like I shouldn’t say anything because my experience was so different from everyone’s. I was the only person of color, and most people’s parents had either a husband or wife to assist in the caregiving. Because of this, their experience was mostly about enjoying their role as caregiver, and being able to enjoy the time spent with their parent. While I appreciated everyone’s shared experience, I felt like I couldn’t honestly express the difficulties I had with being a caregiver. This feeling led me to want to share my own story, which led me to this profile.
During this time, I have recognized my own strength. I have cared for both my parents off and on since 2007, and during this time have been able to obtain and keep full time employment, maintain healthy relationships with friends and family, purchase a home and get married. I am becoming someone who can balance life really well, including balancing care for mom with care for self. I’m strong enough to be there for her and know that it is ok to want my own life, although it is still something I struggle with often. I have learned that it’s okay to maintain my own life and happiness in order to be the best caregiver possible.
I’ve been able to use resources to fill in the gaps. My mom has really found a place in church so my cousins take her and it gives me a break. I’ve learned through caregiving that my strengths are logistics, so I take care of those, and my family takes care of providing her a social and emotional output. She attends an elder service day program which provides her with social interaction and support. She still maintains a few hobbies, including coloring which she is really proud to show off!
If there’s anything I hope comes from this profile, it’s that someone out there sees it and sees a reflection of themselves and their stories in it, and for just a second feels a little bit better. I’m very proud to share our story with the Genius of Caring community.