When I first met Rusty, he was in a difficult situation with his father.
Rusty’s father has Lewy Body Dementia, which causes hallucinations, mood swings and other behavioral issues. His father had been evicted from his memory care facility, and Rusty didn’t know where to turn.
Brooks was able to provide therapy and medication management to help stabilize his father. He then moved to our Green House for memory care and has lived with us since 2014. Rusty always approached his father with respect and patience, which is why I asked him to be interviewed for this article.
Tell me about your journey from being your father’s son to being his caregiver.
It was gradual. Before my father received his diagnosis, we had already noticed odd behaviors and changes to his personality that didn’t add up. When the Mayo Clinic finally came back and told us my father had Lewy Body Dementia, we had never heard of it. My first instinct was to research the condition and find out everything I could about how this would affect my father. His wife, my stepsister and I were able to manage him through the disease up until the point when my stepmother passed away. That’s when I knew I had to move him to Jacksonville and provide more support.
How did your new role affect your existing life: your work and marriage?
I was completely transparent with my employer. Luckily, I had tenure there and a manager that understood that I needed to leave work some days to support my father. My wife has been supportive – taking on my father’s finances and bill paying. She’s the one person who understands just how overwhelming it can be sometimes.
What advice would you share with a friend or colleague who is beginning the caregiving journey?
Take care of yourself – if you forget about yourself you could end up in the room next to him. Never lose sight of the fact that this is your father. Find someone else to do the daily nursing care – I knew I would not be comfortable in that role. Take the time to learn about the condition and treatments – be an informed advocate. Finally, don’t forget to laugh.