My name is Heather Oglesby and I am a fulltime caregiver for my mother who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. At age 42, I was abruptly introduced to a new world of the aging in America, and into the world of dementia. My life was turned upside down and a new reality unfolded in my life.
My mother, at age 64, suddenly had been evicted from her small cottage in the mountains of Pennsylvania and was living in her car. After a week on the streets she ended up in a homeless shelter. My husband, myself and two dogs rushed to her side. I will never forget the day we drove over 800 miles to rescue her from the shelter. We pulled up to see her standing out back, under some trees, looking disheveled, confused and emaciated. Her clothes were filthy, smelling of the stress that only comes from living in a car or a shelter. She was tearful and non-verbal and very sick. From that day on, my life has not been my own.
I became a fulltime advocate for my mother who had early onset Alzheimers and was thrown into the world of poor health care, faulty systems and a complete black hole of resources. Over the last two years, as a family, we have struggled financially, emotionally and physically, but never gave up. This blog will include all the tips, resources, ideas and lessons learned along the way in managing this role our society calls “caregiver.” I will also be spotlighting other caregivers, organizations and services who are the true heroes in the fight against dementia in the US.