Leagh’s Caregiver Story

Leagh’s Caregiver Story

I joined my first senior adult group when I was seventeen days old.  I never left!

You may think I’m joking, but Daddy was the Music/Youth/Senior Adult Pastor for a church when I was born.  I was raised around senior adults.  I joined the activities until I went to school.   When I grew older and Daddy became pastor of other churches, I assisted him in coordinating the various activities.

While in high school, I drove an elderly woman back and forth to see her ill grandson.   This was an hour drive each way.   This was a weekly to bi-weekly trip in addition to other chores I performed around the house for her.

At the age of eighteen, I was living near my grandmother and my parents were several hours away.  When my grandmother had a brain tumor, I began helping with her hands on care.  This level of care has ebbed and flowed over the years based on her needs.

I also assisted in the care of Daddy’s dad, as he grew older and eventually was diagnosed with dementia.  Daddy died of cancer, before his Dad died.  I stepped up to help my Aunt in Papa’s care.

During my first marriage, I lived with and cared for my husband’s elderly grandparents for six months.  Grandpa was a quadriplegic and Grandma was deaf and had emphysema.

After this marriage ended, I lived with and helped both sets of grandparents for the next five years.  All while working full time and attending college.

During my second marriage, I cared for my husband and his sister through a variety of health issues for the three years we were together.

After returning to my family after my divorce, I desired a break from corporate America.  I sat with a lady {Mrs. T*} that had severe dementia for four years.  I saw her gradual decline, until her death in October 2013.   During the time I sat with her and afterwards, I also sat with several other elderly ladies for short amounts of time.

During the time I was with Mrs. T, I continued to help Mama in the care of my grandmother {GG*}.  GG will be 90 in the summer of 2014.   GG has overcome a broken neck, broken back, two broken hips, broken pelvis, broken hand and numerous other falls since 2010.  Due to her broken neck, GG has severe hearing loss.  As she grows older, her level of care is increasing but at the moment she is still able to remain at home with some assistance.

I have also witnessed and experienced the severe decline and/or death of other family members as they have grown older.

I am currently working in the activities department at a local nursing facility.  I have 80+ residents ranging in age from 55-108 that I interact with and try to show God’s love on a daily basis.   I also try to have a ready smile and listening ear for family members that stop by and need to share their hearts, experiences and lives.  I work with residents of all abilities from rehabilitation to skilled nursing to dementia and Alzheimer patients {of ALL levels}.

I have run the gamut on my feelings toward caregiving from being thankful for the time with loved ones to being resentful.  Caregiving is far from easy and can be a huge strain on an individual.   I am glad that I can use my own experiences to help others.

 

*Names have been altered for protection and privacy purposes