This is an updated excerpt from my blog The Alzheimers Carer, written during and immediately after my 10 years stint as sole carer for my mother, whose life was taken over by alzheimers.
It follows on from comments I made in my last post about how readily the wrong kind of thoughts can overpower and dominate our minds. Knowing what I know, this has still happened to me a second time. The enemy is fully aware of our weaknesses – in my case a penchant for self-criticism – and he plays those to the max.
At the time of these events, I had no deep, personal relationship with the Lord, though I called myself a christian, and only a limited knowledge of the huge wealth of help and guidance to be found within the covers of the Bible, and in truly following Him.
About the year 2004, I could not see anything good left in life for me. By way of background, I was a lawyer by profession and worked as a government lawyer and a law lecturer. I was successful at my job, had my own home, and a comfortable income. After my father’s early death (leukaemia), I was faced with the decision of staying put with a job, or moving home to the beloved family property in the country without one. Never one to pass up a challenge, I chose the latter option.
This is not the place to go into details, but suffice to say for 17 years everything I touched to bring in an income had failed – largely for reasons outside my control. I am reminded that after I got up here a number of people said to me, “Well, the saying is, ‘Come North and go broke.'” As always, one hopes this kind of forecast isn’t true – but then, how did it get to be a forecast? And so the seeds of doubt are sown.
The final failures were due to the growing restrictions imposed by my mom’s developing alzheimers condition. Two promising attempts at setting up a real-life graphics and web design business fell under the wheels of THAT chariot.
It was like being thwarted at one turn after another. On top of that, my capital was gone, and my last attempt at business left me in debt.
There I was, living on the benefit (for which I was grateful), with debts to meet, and completely tied to the house looking after my mom. With almost 2/3 of our income derived from her – her own pension and a small army pension of my father’s – I couldn’t see how in the long term I could afford to keep the beautiful place I had moved home to enjoy. I felt I was staring down an endless black tunnel of my future – where had all the promise of my earlier years gone? How was I going to survive if my mom died?
How was I going to survive if she didn’t?
The property was still in her name because I had put my capital into developing businesses. In this country and probably in yours too, government has now empowered itself to sieze the property of elderly people going into fulltime care, to offset the cost of keeping them.
At the very least if I put her into care, they would impose a caveat on the place and out of their ‘largesse’ allow me to live there until I died. Isn’t that nice? Especially after I had saved them so much in fees for elderly care over the years. I can tell you – it would be the last straw.
I know without a shadow of a doubt that if I had owned this property then and had absolutely nothing to lose by putting my mom into care, I would not have done a single thing differently. In fact if I did own the place she and my father worked so hard to develop, it would probably have been even harder for me to consider institutionalising her. And there were ‘friends’ who, to salve their own consciences, advised me to do just that, every time I saw them.
My real worries lay in the future. The completely, totally and always uncertain future. I was haunted by those elderly permanent residents I saw in our hospital/rest home, laid out in special padded, reclining chairs and fed with spoons.
Many people around me didn’t know how I carried on as it was. My fear was how I would carry on if looking after my mother came to that.
More next time.