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Who Cares?

kanchi's picture

Anna Strosser's memoir relates a complicated, and sometimes tragic story. Throughout her piece, one thing becomes clearer to me than anything else and that is that it is impossible to separate out different parts of your life or individualize different family members completely. Certainly, we all have different parts of our lives (professional, personal, academic, etc) and each person is an individual. But Anna reminds me that we are all connected, and that our life experiences are all connected. We cannot simply see Ken in his older years, living with dementia. We see him in his relationships to the family and others, we see Anna in her relationships to others and how those relationships become part of the experience of physical and mental health. Everyone's emotional life, shared or secret, contributes to how she, Ken, their brothers and sisters, children, and other family relate to each other in the present day. And all of this is part of being the carer for someone. It is a true challenge, and something that I applaud most of all in Anna's memoir is her ability to be flexible. She recommends it to others at the end, but it is another thing entirely to practice it in one's own life: to recognize when something is not working and try something else, or to realize when you were wrong about something and own up and apologize.

If I had questions for the author, I suppose they might be something like this:

Self care is so important for care givers. What have you found to be the best self care for yourself?

There are times when it is easy to feel frustrated or inflexible in the moment of a challenge or a change. What are some of your tried and true techniques for staying open and flexible?

You learned many things along the journey of caring for Ken so far, including some very valuable insights to what he understood or did not, could differentiate between or could not, etc. Are there two or three top realizations or understandings about Ken and his condition that you feel were "groundbreaking" or "lightbulb" moments, so to speak?