“I got through 100% of my worst days.”
This is a quote from “Just Sam” – Samantha Diez (21) – the 2020 American Idol. Sam was part of the foster program and was then adopted by her grandmother at the age of 6 while her mother was incarcerated. She currently lives in the projects of Harlem and started singing on the “trains” (subways) when she was in middle school to help support her family. I have been so impressed by her as a person, her gift of song and certainly her story. And I am thrilled that she was chosen as 2020’s Idol.
Her statement above during her first audition for American Idol really caught my attention. And I immediately thought of all of our Alzheimer’s and dementia (AD/D) caregivers who have had many “worst” days as they have cared for their loved ones. Certainly, the circumstances for Just Sam are and have been very different than the circumstances for our AD/D caregivers.
Just as each caregiver’s story is unique to their loved one, their environment and specific circumstances, we know that caregivers go through many, many difficult days, It begins when they have suspicions that something is not normal, to receiving a diagnosis, to figuring out how to manage changes in behaviors, loss of skills and memory and then seeing their loved one “slip away” before their eyes.
Those “worst” days happen through all of the stages of the disease process. Caregivers are thankful for the days when life moves more smoothly, but hopefully become more prepared for those “worst” days as the weeks, months and years continue to accumulate. And interestingly, what seemed like a worst day in the beginning of the disease process eventually becomes a day that seems to have less significance as time marches on for the caregiver.
No one knows what it would be like to walk in Just Sam’s shoes. No one knows what it is like to walk in a caregiver’s shoes unless you have experienced it yourself. During this Corona world we live in today, we may all be in the same Corona ocean, but we are not all in the same boat.
I have a tremendous amount of respect and admiration for AD/D caregivers. Their journey is long, frustrating, sad and seems endless, even though they do not want the end to come. Alzheimer’s and dementia caregivers DO get 100% through their worst days, partially because they have to and partially because the love they have for their loved one won’t let them do otherwise.
We talk about taking life one step at a time. Caregivers need to remember that they have taken their journey one day at a time and have been successful. Whether it’s minute by minute or day by day, they have succeeded. Caregivers to get 100% through their worst days.