Rena McDaniel is the blogger behind the very useful, very popular site The Diary of an Alzheimer’s Caregiver. Rena can’t cook, but she can care!
Where and when do you feel most competent? Wow a hard one right off the bat! Okay, I feel the most confident actually when it comes to understanding mom. After 46 years, I know her pretty well, so I can almost always tell you what she is thinking. If she’s upset I can usually figure out why and I know what things will upset her so I can avoid those triggers. I’m also pretty good at dealing with her behaviors. I’ve developed a lot of patience since I first began and I guess that is because I’ve become more educated about Alzheimer’s. I know that whatever she does isn’t her fault it is the disease.
With what do you struggle? I struggle with a lot of things, but I guess the worst is standing up to her and taking charge. She is still my mom and that part is so difficult for me. I also hate confrontations and try to avoid them at all costs. I would like to feel comfortable being more assertive. I also struggle with asking for help when I need it. I’d like to think that I’m getting better at both.
What one thing do you wish you had more time for? I wish I had more time for my writing. I just finished my first novel and want to finish editing it, but it’s hard when there are so many other things to do.
With what do you wish you had more help? I wish I had more help period. I would love to spend more time with my husband, daughter, and grandchildren.
Where do you find support? My husband and daughter first and then my online friends. I also have a brother that helps by keeping mom for the night or a couple of hours. We moved from Kentucky to South Carolina and haven’t made many friends here yet. All of our friends live at least 400 miles away. That’s why I started my blog.
What is your best habit? I guess it would be my organizational skills, everybody knows it isn’t my cooking!
If you knew then, what you know now… I would have made sure that mom prepared for the future a little more. I would have also educated myself about the effects of Alzheimer’s before being thrust into the role of caregiver. I made so many mistakes in the very beginning.
What is your dream retirement? My husband and I want to travel when we retire, but mainly just the option to do what I want when I want.
What would you like to see medical professionals do more of to support caregivers? I think that respect needs to be given to the caregivers. I also think that doctors could do more to help the caregiver by offering guidance and support. More doctors need to be educated about diseases. It is hard to find one that really understands what our loved ones need.