This advice helps me foster a frame of mind, one that allows the care giving life to feel more like a shared journey than a grim sentence. Our lives are very different from the way we led them years ago. I don’t want to suggest that we haven’t changed how we live those lives. What we do is what we’ve always done, slowed down admittedly. But we are not merely marking time.
Before, I would have been more likely to gather my gear and drive to Alyeska to ski rather than to watch. But this year I can find my pleasure in parking at the base of the slalom track and pointing out the skiers to Audrey as we watch their progress through the gates. My delight is found in her smiles and laughter, her worry at the sight of a spectacular tumble by a very small skier.
Together we share our awe at the beauty around us, the icy mudflats, the stark white mountains against the brilliant blue sky.
An eavesdropper might find our repetitive dialogue dull; I know it’s reassuring to my mother to have a response to every question or statement. I know if I listen to what Audrey is saying to me I can learn something new about our altered world.
We’re living our lives. We’re not on hold.
Pamela R. Kelley is the full-time caregiver for her mother, after serving as her long-distance caregiver for more than four years. Before her caregiving role took primacy, Ms. Kelley directed an American Bar Association-approved paralegal education program at the University of Alaska Anchorage from within UAA's Justice Center. As she transitioned to full-time caregiving, she prepared a resource manual and presented lectures on long-distance caregiving to her UAA colleagues. She is a 25-year member of the Alaska Bar Association, and concentrated her years of active practice in the areas of commercial transactions and creditor representation in complex bankruptcy cases. Over the years, she has published many articles on topics as varied as cyber-stalking and antitrust law. Ms. Kelley lives, works and writes in Anchorage, Alaska.
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Original content Pamela R. Kelley, the Alzheimer's Reading Room