A young woman counts out pills and looks sad, noticing the milestones of other people her age passing around her.

Putting Your Life on Hold to Care for a Parent With Alzheimer's

My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s when I was 25 years old. When I was 28, I decided to quit my full-time job and become a caregiver for my mom. I was her caregiver off and on for the next several years, until we hired an in-home care agency.

During those years, I often struggled with the fact that my life was on hold indefinitely. While most of my friends and peers were having successful careers and/or starting families, I was making my mom lunch and helping her use the bathroom. I felt like I had not yet accomplished anything great in my life. I felt stuck. And I often felt like a loser for not having a “real job.”

Feeling judged for quitting my job

While society generally accepts women taking time off to have babies and raise children, no one seems to understand why a twenty-something-year-old woman would have to quit her job to care for her mom. I felt judged for not working while I was taking care of my mom. I felt like everyone thought I was lazy and useless. No one seemed to understand why I had to be the one taking care of her.

“Aren’t there other people who can do that?”

“Can’t you just put her in a nursing home?”

These are things I heard from people when they found out I was quitting my job to help take care of my mom. No one even considered the fact that I actually wanted to be there to help take care of her. My family wanted to keep my mom home for as long as possible and that wasn’t going to happen unless someone was there to take care of her. I wanted to be that person. I wanted to spend a lot of time with my mom. I wanted to help care for her.

Still, I constantly dealt with feelings of depression and not being good enough. I felt like I had nothing to show for my life. I wasn’t being productive or making progress toward my goals. I wasn’t contributing to my household. I didn’t have anything in common with my friends or my peers anymore. I kept wondering when it would be my time. When would I get to do the “big thing” I was supposed to do with my life?

Caring for my mom was my purpose

What I failed to realize at the time was that caring for my mom was the “big thing.” It was my purpose for the time being. I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I learned so many invaluable lessons during my time as a caregiver – things that no job or formal education could have possibly taught me. What’s more is that I got to spend countless hours with my mom, being there for her and making her smile. That’s something I would have never been able to do if I was working a full-time job.

If you are struggling with the fact that your life is on hold while caring for your parent, I hope you know the significance of what you’re doing. No paycheck is worth the time you are spending with your parent. No job will give you more experience than what you are doing right now. The time will come for you to chase goals, build a career, or start a family.

But for now, please know – you are not behind.

You are exactly where you’re supposed to be.

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