Caregiver support…can I find the real me again?

A new purpose: life after caregivingMagazine September/October 2016

by Joene Nelson Werner, Healthy Living Made Simple

September/October 2016

“With one last breath, my life changed.  I had been a 24/7 caregiver to my husband of over 48 years, and in a moment, I became a person without a cause.  While my days had been consumed, leaving no time for myself, suddenly there was no responsibility or accountability to anyone or anything.  A gradual beginning, an abrupt end. What does one do with the freedom that comes from losing one’s purpose?

The Aftermath

He passed November 17 from complications due to Alzheimer’s disease; the last three weeks moved like a train wreck.  It happened so quickly I was left trying to wrap my mind around it.  The holidays were a blur.  I felt so alone and misunderstood.  After several months, my mind still spiraled–no longer a caregiver, no longer a wife.

A year earlier, I tearfully shared with my Alzheimer’s caregiver support group: I’d lost me. Would I ever find the real me again?  I wasn’t sure who I was, where I was or if I’d reclaim my past life.  The years of caregiving with Alzheimer’s were like an out-of-body experience and upon my husband’s death, I was jolted back to reality. Caregiving consumes your identity.  Unconditionally putting another first, I had become programmed.  Being able to put myself first was strange.  It was difficult to accept that I had my ‘me time’ back.”

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