Caregiving with purpose - Christine and Liza’s story

My caregiving journey began about six years ago when my mother, Liza, developed a dual diagnosis of dementia and early Alzheimer’s. While watching my mother walk through life with this kind of disease, I’ve had to bear witness to something that’s gradually robbed her of memory, mobility, and speech.

For the most part, mom is non-verbal, but we still manage to communicate with each other—something I am grateful for. Even a small amount of communication let’s me know she’s still my mom. I know because small parts of her personality still shine through. Maybe it’s similar to the time when a child first communicates with a parent—how they coo and learn their syllables. It warms my heart in the same way when my mother manages to share even a few words.

It’s hard to see a disease take hold of someone you love and watch as it takes their independence away—especially because my mother has always been such a strong woman. She always stood up for what she believed in. And she taught me to do the same.

As a younger woman, I remember my mom marched in the 70s and 80s—she rallied for a local community center to be built—something that improved the quality of life for local families with younger children. Today, the same community center offers various workshops—like nutrition classes.

I also remember how my mom used to prepare deep fried catfish, turkey and dressing, and BBQ ribs—the best ribs I’ve ever tasted. Now mom relies on me and my daughter Tenà for her care. Now, this woman who used to feed us, we feed her. Thankfully, she still swallows food on her own—something we consider a blessing.

When I think about how I provide care for my mom, I suppose I’m following in her footsteps—doing what I believe in. That is to say, providing a home for her and a place where she feels familiar and comfortable. No way would I put mom in a nursing home.

When I think about what it takes to be a caregiver, it requires a certain physical and mental tenacity. Some days, when I know it’s going to be tough, all I can do is accept the challenge and try my best. Like when mom has no interest in taking her shower, she stiffens up like a two-by-four, arms clinched at her sides. And she’s a strong woman, so it’s challenging.

But she still needs her shower, so we figure out a way and we get it done.

Everyone has their own way of managing the tests and trials of caregiving. For me, prayer provides a source of inspiration and it gets me through the grueling days. But I realize, not everyone has that to fall back on.

Caregiving, especially 24/7 caregiving, goes way beyond any full time job. Still, even with all the challenges, I won’t let anything or anyone come in between my mom’s care. Sadly, I had to let a boyfriend know that. And it wasn’t easy.

When I think about the younger generation, I would like to see them learn the value of keeping their parents at home instead of sending them off to a nursing home. Because when our parents are gone—they’re gone. Keeping parents at home keeps them alive longer—and that’s just my opinion. But I think many caregivers will agree, because no one gives better care than a loving family member.

So you might wonder what brought us to Sage Products. We simply stumbled onto Comfort Rinse Free Shampoo Caps and we really enjoy the product. Compared to washing mom’s hair the traditional way, with water and shampoo, using Sage brand shampoo caps makes hair washing so much easier. Especially on days when my mom digs her heels in and refuses a shower.

When I use the shampoo caps, I give mom a little extra TLC by massaging her scalp—something I know makes it more relaxing and enjoyable for her. When I glance down at her face, I see how much she enjoys it. Plus, it makes me feel good to give her that kind of quality care she deserves.

When people see my mom, they generally comment on how nice her hair looks and how soft her skin feels. I guess you can say I take a lot of pride in how my mom looks and feels—which is why I give her such quality personal care and choose to use high quality products like Sage Rinse-free Shampoo Caps.


No individuals or organizations were compensated by Sage or Stryker for contributing to this article.