On the left is a picture of my mom celebrating her 70th birthday. On Christmas Eve of 2013, I stood in her apartment stunned at what I saw. Trash covered the carpet, all the dishes, pots, and pans collecting mold on the kitchen counter, fungus growing in her refrigerator, dog feces on the floor, flies buzzing everywhere. The worst was realizing my mom was mentally absent.Then the biggest shock hit home.She has no other family members. No husband. And as the only child, her care was all left to me. And, I didn't have the means to place her in an assisted living home.I worked for a start-up located two hours away from my mom. My life was about work and doing what 20 somethings do. I thrived on being that independent savvy woman. I aspired to be a power executive. Any time away from work I spent with friends, being outdoors, going out to social events, etc. It was all about to change in ways I couldn't have possibly imagined.
On the right is the same woman three years later. Now at a healthy weight, she can tackle a flight of stairs with no problem, makes her own appointments, fills her own weekly medications dispenser, socializes, easily makes new friends, and regained her mental clarity. Despite being diagnosed with vascular dementia, she can still do a lot and she loves her life.Through extensive research and experimentation with my mom, I created and implemented a program to turn my mom's health around. I didn't erase dementia, but I increased her quality of life. It took a lot of sacrifice, but I gained a lot in the process. It was a path to self-development that I hadn't expected. I gained patience, emotional intelligence, and compassion. And, the intrinsic values that come from navigating the minefield of parent care while working full-time, overcoming a close family estrangement, nurturing personal relationships, and finding new joy in life.