One of the greatest privileges of my life was to care for my mother, who had Alzheimer's disease
. However, I was constantly fighting an internal battle. A feeling of inadequacy always bubbled beneath the surface.
Many caregivers fight similar battles. This is why I wrote the following, which is an excerpt from a yet-to-be published book for caregivers. The excerpt has been lightly edited for this column.
Managing feelings of inadequacy
Often, caregivers of elderly loved ones must manage other ailments, while also managing dementia (as if we could). My mother was a diabetic. She thankfully was not insulin dependent, but we had to pay close attention to her blood-sugar level. Her blood was sampled at least twice a day and her diet was closely monitored.
It is imperative that diabetic
patients avoid wounds. For this reason, my mother saw a podiatrist once every three months. Her toenails were trimmed and her feet checked for dead spots. The health professionals in the office were caring, gentle, and proficient. However, on one particular day, the doctor mentioned that her feet were dry and needed lotion. This was not the first time he had brought the subject of her dry feet to my attention. I presumed he thought I had ignored his previous discussion on the subject, because her feet were dry on that day.
The tyranny of the urgent
“It is within your mother’s best interest that you lotion her feet.”
I immediately felt guilty and inadequate. I don't think the doctor intended to accuse me of being