"To care for those who once cared for us is one of the HIGHEST HONORS."
Tia Walker is quoted as saying, "To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors." As a caregiver for my mom for the past six (6) years and my grandmother, for the last almost four (4) years of her life, I have found no greater honor than to care for the two women who raised me to be the woman I am. These incredible women cared so deeply for me and while caring for them has come with many challenges and lots of changes, it has also come with great joys and even more valuable life lessons.
HOW IT BEGAN
I never imagined myself as a Caregiver, but here I am! In May 2017, due to the progression of my mom's dementia, my family and I made the decision to move into her home with her to provide care for her in her familiar space. Our journey of caregiving actually began a year prior to moving in with her. Although there were telling signs of the dementia advancing, there was one day in particular where she was driving to a family gathering and some of our family members happened to be driving behind her. She was driving erratically and it was very concerning. That was her last day driving and my first day as her official full-time caregiver. For an entire year before moving in with her, I would go to work; drive to her home on my lunch break (about a 5 minute drive) to make sure she ate lunch; drive back after work to pick her up; go pick my daughter up from school; and go home. Mom would spend the night. I'd drop my daughter off to school the next day, dropped her home and made sure she had breakfast; go to work, then go back to her house to get her lunch. I would go back to the office, then pick her up again after work. On Friday's, she'd stay over the entire weekend. On Monday's, we'd start the cycle all over again. Yep, it was a whole lot! As time passed, it became increasingly challenging to get her up to leave in the mornings, among other things. Hence, the reason for making the decision to move in with her.
THE MANDATE: MAKE MINISTRY OUT OF THE MOMENTS
Being a caregiver is one thing, being a caregiver for your mom living with dementia (my case) is probably one of the toughest. The reality is that, it's hard--not the caring part, but watching the affects this disease has on your loved one, day in and day out. I still vividly remember the day my mom didn't remember who I am to her. The emotion felt in that moment is indescribable. Yet, despite it all--this new way of living for us--my mom always had a way of saying something that would have you in stitches laughing. It was in one of those moments, when pain and laughter met that God spoke to me and gave me the mandate to, "Make Ministry Out of the Moments." He challenged me to use my journey of caring to inspire, encourage, uplift, and strengthen others. I created the My Favorite Girl & Alzheimer's social media platform, where I authentically and creatively share moments from our journey, and use them as a means to minister to others who are on their own journey (or will be). I coined those moments, "Momma Moments". I also use the platform to help educate, advocate, and bring greater awareness to others regarding Alzheimer's and other dementias, and its effect on the person living with the disease and their caregivers.
WHEN CARING FOR ONE WITH ALZHEIMER'S, TURNS INTO CARING FOR TWO WITH ALZHEIMER'S
In April 2018, I received a call that would bring about yet another big change for us. My then 95-year-old grandmother by love could no longer live on her own and needed to move with family or would be placed in a facility. Without hesitating, I told the person on the other end of the line that I would be there by the weekend to pick her up. I didn't know what it would be like. I never counted up the cost--physically, emotionally, financially, etc. I just knew I didn't want my grandmother to be alone and cared for by total strangers. And, she wasn't. For the last three (3) years and nine (9) months of her life, we (my daughter and I) had the honor of serving her in her latter years. On January 29, 2022, at 12:09 pm, my sweet grandmother by love, Julie Miller Powell, slipped away to glory. She is no doubt, enjoying Jesus! Alzheimer's dementia didn't win, LOVE WON!!!
This is our journey! As you browse this site, listen to the My Favorite Girl Caregivers Corner podcasts, read the blogs, and follow us on our social media platforms, my prayer is that you will be inspired and will find the courage to share your own journey. You are not alone. Though perhaps on different roads, there are so many of us on this journey of caring. Is it easy? Depends on the day! Is it doable? You are already making it happen! Is it worth it? Absolutely! You, my friend, were graced to care! Keep Going. Keep Pushing. Keep Loving. Keep CARING. I love you!
doing what has to be done
and not expecting anything in return."