In 2011 my husband and I along with our daughter and my mother moved from California to care for my husband’s elderly parents. It would be a gross understatement to say that our expectations and our reality are worlds apart. Creating a multi-generational home has been a challenge, one I think we have managed successfully. Even with the knowledge I have today, I wouldn’t change the choice we made. Living together as adults we now have a better understanding of who our parents are. I think being with us and in our care has made them happy and given our parents peace of mind. For my husband and myself, we have had the privilege of sharing these last years of their lives. My father-in-law has passed away and my mother lost her battle with cancer in 2014. My mother-in-law turned 89 early this year, a few weeks after her birthday she left us to join her husband and they are now dancing together in heaven.
In our journey as caregivers, we have found our greatest success in our ability to be innovative. Besides the general concerns that arise with aging, our experience lies primarily in caring for my father-in-law with Parkinson’s disease and dementia, and my mother with cancer. What I looked for and often could not find in our early days as caregivers was information on a specific topic that didn’t involve wading through an entire caregiver’s’ handbook. I am a copious note taker and have numerous three-ring binders filled with all that has happened in our home these past few years. A home health care assessment assured us we had created a safe and supportive environment for our parents and that other families would find value in our experiences so I decided to chronicle our stories here. I have also turned my notes into several short and very specific caregiver booklets. While I write from the perspective of a PD/dementia caregiver, the information has universal application within the realm of family eldercare. My dream is that sharing our lives as family caregivers will support and encourage others on a similar path.