Caregiver: Evelyn Moseley
Location: Little Rock, AR
When did you and/or your dad start caregiving?
My mom and dad have been married for 61 years as of 9/27/2020 and thru different illnesses, they have always been each other’s caregivers. When my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, my dad made a big decision to downsize and move to Little Rock to be near me. They basically relocated on their 60th wedding anniversary! So now I have found myself in the role of caregiver for both, even though, thankfully, they are still able to live independently.
What is a brief description of your daily/weekly routine as a caregiver?
My dad has the role of insuring that my mom receives her daily meds properly and that she stays safe in their cottage. He also makes sure that she participates in any outside activities (even though they are very limited with covid) and takes her on daily walks. He also makes sure she has some outdoor patio time as they both enjoy the breezy afternoons, bird watching as well as people watching! Fortunately, their meals are provided so he is relieved of that duty.
My days are a careful balance of home duties, family life which includes 5 young adult children with one still in college, church volunteer responsibilities, and daily visits to my parents. My daily time with them is spent taking care of their bills and banking, finding new doctors, keeping up with & transporting them to doctor appointments, pharmacy communication, coordinating priest visits so their spiritual needs are met, grocery shopping, bringing weekly laundry to my home, continual organizing of their cottage due to my mom’s frequent “hiding” or misplacing of household items and clothing. Additionally, I strive to make my daily time with them fun. We go for walks, sit outside, and enjoy desserts together! Finally, I take lots of pictures of them so that I can keep out of state family abreast of what is going on in their lives.
What challenges have you faced as a caregiver?
My dad sometimes finds himself pondering the future of how her Alzheimer’s will progress. He wonders if he is prepared for what’s next and often asks himself “Am I prepared?”. Thankfully, mom and dad are both faith filled and trust in God for their daily and future needs.
My biggest challenge is time management. I am always aware of the need to be flexible in my daily schedule but oftentimes, I wish I could do more for them and my own family.
One huge challenge I faced this past year was coordinating the sale of their home and all of their possessions in Oklahoma. My dad had hip replacement surgery last year and followed it up with the other hip replacement surgery just this past August. So, not only was he adjusting to a move but he also had the challenge of dealing with physical pain on top of caring for mom. Because of this, he could not handle many details of the home sale. We are grateful he has recovered well and can now enjoy pain free walks in the nice fall weather.
What rewards have caregiving brought you?
My dad says that Alzheimer’s has actually drawn him closer to my mom! He is more in tune to her needs and has developed a deep empathy for her physical and mental struggles. He actually says “She did so much for me over the past 60 years. It’s my turn to serve her and take care of her and I’m happy to do it.”
I, too, have learned over the past year to not have any expectations in terms of my mom’s recollection of important things in our lives. BUT I have been rewarded with some beautiful moments. More than once, she and I have remembered some key events which have triggered tears and a genuine connection. For example, I recently had an eye issue and needed to see an ophthalmologist. I told my parents about it. Later on, while mom and I were on a walk, she remarked with such motherly concern “I’m so glad you are taking care of your eyes.” It meant so much to me that she still had that maternal instinct to be concerned for me. Another time, I mentioned the poem “Trees” by Joyce Kilmer which she taught me as a child. She actually recited the first couple of lines and became teary eyed. It’s a beautiful poem with a great message and it still has meaning for her today. We actually gifted her a framed print of this poem for their anniversary.
How has caregiving changed your life?
Since my dad sold their home in Oklahoma, they have a much smaller place which is easier for them to maintain. He recognizes they will likely not travel anymore which I know is bittersweet. Traveling would probably exacerbate mom’s confusion and we don’t want to add to her struggle. They had a lot of joy going on road trips to see family so it’s a big change to remain planted in one place. Saying goodbye to their Oklahoma neighbors and church was difficult but already, they are making new friends in their village and adjusting to the new environment.
Caregiving has made me keenly aware of my parents welfare. I make all decisions regarding my time with them in mind, so that their physical and medical needs are met.
Is there a piece of advice that you would want other caregivers to know?
Upon receiving a diagnosis, we recommend embracing the new chapter with calmness. For us, this took some research (to grow in knowledge and understanding) and prayer (to reduce anxiety and maintain peace). My dad also needs to continue to watch sports and movies to relax and have a mental break from caregiving. I, too, take time to exercise and hike Pinnacle with my husband almost every day. I also enjoy facilitating bible studies at my church and keeping up friendships with girlfriends. All of these things are a respite from caregiving and help renew and refresh my mindset.
How has Alzheimer’s Arkansas helped in the journey?
Alzheimer’s Arkansas was our first stop after my parents relocated to Little Rock. Here, we received a multitude of resources that helped us understand the progression of the disease and also knowledge about what assistance is available should we need more help down the road. Additionally, the grants awarded to us have been extremely helpful in offsetting some of the expenses that come with daily caregiving.