I was struck and inspired by a recent online article regarding millennials dealing with the caretaking of aging parents. As a caregiver to her mother with dementia, California resident Julia Torres had a unique experience.
Nine years ago, when Torres was twenty-six years of age and pregnant with her second child, her fifty-five-year-old mother, Diana Gomez, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. At that time, Torres, her husband, and their daughter were living with Gomez. They continued to do so until Torres's brother, Alfonso Gomez, could move in to care for her. The young family moved out, yet were able to live in their own place only for one year before Diana Gomez’s caregiving needs increased, and they needed to move back in.
While working part time as a waitress, Julia realized she wanted to make her work meaningful—so she went back to school to earn a law degree, in addition to caring for her mother. She said, “I remember leaving (the restaurant) and being like, 'I’ll be back in like six months. I’m just going to try a semester out and see what happens.'” Julia succeeded in meeting her goal and is now an attorney for the U.S. Department of Justice at the immigration court in Otay Mesa. And her mother, now sixty-four and dealing with advanced dementia, is receiving hospice care in an assisted living facility a mile from Torres, who is pregnant with her third child.
My experience of caretaking a person with dementia taught me a great deal—not only about how challenging it is, but also it prompted me to learn more about the disease. In recent years, research results definitely indicate there are factors that can prevent dementia or lessen its severity. Going online and googling “dementia” provides a vast list of books and articles on these preventative measures.
Dear readers, if you have had the experience of being a dementia caregiver, your comments about it are most welcome. In fact, readers may learn something about this topic that could be very helpful.