By Bobby Carducci
“What’s going to happen to Rodger?’ was the first thing most people asked upon hearing of my mother-in-law’s passing. Extremely introverted, unable to drive, and not in good health, he’d been dependent on her to care for everything it took to run a home for many years. Fortunately my husband and I had talked about taking in one of our parents when and if the time came. We had the room and the desire to take someone in. We knew it would be hard at times but we were convinced we would make it work.
We didn’t know how sick he was, how hard it would be, or how long it would last. The first surprise for both my husband and I was learning that he was schizophrenic and had been since 1947. It certainly explained a lot about his odd behavior over the years, but until the medical records arrived no one in the family had ever mentioned the 13 years he spent in mental hospitals from 1947 to 1960. In addition to being mentally ill he developed dementia, Parkinson’s disease, congestive heart failure, and dysphagia.
I did what I could to educate myself about the various diseases and how to help him have the best possible life as long as possible. It was harder than I ever thought it could be. I called it creative problem solving on the run. All day, every day and night, was a challenge. I doubted myself so many times. Why couldn’t I figure this out? Why couldn’t I make him understand I loved him and wanted the best for him?
Confessions of an Imperfect Caregiver is the true story of one family coping with one of the most difficult, fastest growing issues of our day. It’s raw and it’s real. I invite readers to cry, shout, despair and laugh with me as I did the best I could to save Rodger from himself while he did everything he could to convince everyone I was crazy and he could take care of himself.
I had one patient for seven years, my father-in- law, and became fearless when taking doctors, nurses, and other health care providers to task to make sure he got the care he needed.
After Rodger passed away, I decided to become a caregiver advocate and do all I can to support caregivers. I am now a caregiver support group leader, blogger, and national speaker on issues dealing with Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Caregivers have thanked me for writing the book and expressing in vivid detail what it takes to be caregiver and the toll it takes on those who do it.
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