The knowledge and wisdom adquired during years spent caring for a loved one, are gifts that caregivers treasure for the rest of their lives. Or, at least, for as long as they can remember them.
In her wisdom, Janet, who cared for both her parents, knew darn well that her own memories might not live as long as herself. So she wrote notes to her loved ones, should one day they too need to care for her and learn about her thoughts.
Today, Janet lives at Villa Alamar, our memory care community. Her memories have indeed been robbed by a relentless neurological disease, but her notes now serve to soothe and reassure her family, as they do all they can to keep her safe, comfortable, and content. Although she can no longer express her thoughts and wishes, her notes provide them with guidance as to what kind of care she wants for herself, as well as permission to decide what needs to be done on her behalf.
In her own words, here is a snippet of her message:
“Since both my father and mother have had Alzheimer’s Disease I leave this request regarding me, personally, to my family:
If I start to lose my mental abilities, please be patient with me. Care for me with integrity, doing whatever YOU feel is best for yourselves and for me, then remind me tenderly, with love… 😉 … that I MUST TRUST you.
It is my desire never to live with my children, but to live and die on my own, in my “own home”, be it my home, an apartment, an Assisted Care facility if I can afford it, whatever…”
And for further encouragement, she also wrote:
“Old folks are not stupid, they are just old. There is a lot of wisdom and humor and love in an old person. Don’t overlook that.
No matter how tedious it may seem, no matter how difficult it can be, caring for an aging parent is a good thing. It is more about who you are than what you are doing. You will take from the experience a wisdom and a tenderness of heart that is priceless, so be that kind of person, just be careful not to lose yourself in the process….”
Thank you Janet. We shall all strive to be that kind of person you need us to be, for you and for all those whose care has been entrusted to us.