February 5, 2021 by jas
With Contributor and Guest Author, Susan Landeis
Along our journey, we caregivers meet many other caregivers. Many appear as blessings in our life, a life that is most times unlike what we lived previously, or expected to live, ever! We yearn to become connected to souls that are fueled by the same needs for resources, information, and friendship, to create emotional bonds that carry us through this unfamiliar phase of our life. And so, those in our new ‘tribe’ draw us like magnets to link to the chain of care.
Susan Landeis is a soul in that tribe, a link in the chain of care. Originally, I kept seeing her comments on Twitter and LinkedIn and was drawn to find out more about her and her experiences. It was no surprise, then, after I discovered we both had lived in Colorado, even though in different towns and at different times, to find that we had other common interests.
In her story here, Susan conveys the “unexpected” that many find in a caregiving journey. In her life, it was the unforeseen pathway that rose in front of her and her walk along that path that changed her life and lives of those around her. Here, she gives us a glimpse into her world through a story that outlines her book, “In Search of Rainbows.” We learn how sometimes what we think could be the hardest lesson in life, turns out to be the greatest gift.
I am happy to introduce Guest Author, AlzAuthor, Susan Landeis as she joins the Accepting the Gift of Caregiving chain of care to share her experiences caring for her mother and then her father. It is my wish that other caregivers will feel comforted knowing that, if they reach out, there will be others like Susan to respond, in fact, a tribe of others!
An Unexpected Journey
By Susan Landeis
February 5, 2021
Someone once said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For me, it started with a phone call from my father, asking for my help. The only problem was that he needed help caring for my mother, the one person I spent most of my life trying to avoid.
As far back as I can remember, my mother suffered from depression, and we had what you might call a tumultuous relationship. I left home at an early age and never looked back. Although I still kept in touch with my parents, the conflict and tension remained between my mother and me.
At the age of 68, my mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, and my parents moved to a senior living facility. After three years, we noticed disturbing changes in my mother’s behavior. It began gradually with confusion and distorted reality and became more concerning when her vivid hallucinations led to aggressive behavior. Soon after, we learned she had Lewy body dementia. I had no choice but to place her in a care facility. It was also during this time that my father’s health began to fail.
Little did I realize how profoundly my life was about to change. As I lost more of myself to the demands of caregiving, I found myself floundering in unfamiliar territory and felt the strain of caring for both parents.
After more than 20 years of working in Health Information Management, I gave up my career and devoted myself to my parent’s care. Like most new caregivers, I struggled with emotions, guilt, and isolation. I missed my job, my friends, and my independence. Relationships became strained, especially with my brother, who was my only sibling. In the blink of an eye, my world had changed!
As my mother’s dementia progressed, I suddenly realized she had become a different person. The disease enabled her to “forget” the past, and her unhappiness began to disappear. The walls came down, and our relationship slowly began to evolve.
As I became more involved in my parent’s care, I learned about their medical conditions, health, and medications. I went back to school and studied eldercare and nutrition, and began taking an active role in my parent’s health care. As a certified nutritionist, I started a new chapter in my life, which became my “second act.”
After getting consistent reports of improvement from my father’s doctor, I knew I wanted to share what I had learned. I wrote my first book, Optimal Caregiving: A guide for managing senior health and well-being to support others.
Sadly, my mother passed away two years later. At the end of her life, I realized we had been given a rare gift. It was a second chance to find peace, healing, and forgiveness. Our journey had brought us full-circle.
Caregiving has changed my life in so many ways. It has made me a better person and taught me more about faith, human limitations, life, and death than any experience ever could.
As I worked through the grief of my mother’s passing, my pain became the inspiration for my second book, In Search of Rainbows: A daughter’s story of loss, hope, and redemption. I share my personal story hoping that others will find encouragement and perhaps a new perspective that we share many life struggles as families and human beings.
I realize many caregivers struggle with family dynamics. I know the struggle is real, and I feel your pain. If you happen to find your story on the pages of my book, I offer compassion and understanding. You are not alone! Caregiving brought me back to my roots, and I will always be grateful that I accepted this wonderful gift!
Copyright © 2021 Susan Landeis
Susan Landeis is a writer, author, certified nutritionist, and senior advocate who lives in the beautiful state of Colorado. Susan is the author of Optimal Caregiving: A guide for managing senior health and well-being and her touching memoir, In Search of Rainbows: A daughter’s story of loss, hope, and redemption.
Susan continues to care for her father and is also an AlzAuthors Associate doing graphic design and author promotion. She advocates for those touched by Alzheimer’s and dementia by promoting the works of AlzAuthors.com.
LinkedIn: Susan Landeis
Each day do something to make others smile and your heart sing!
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Accepting the Gift of Caregiving, Part One and Part Two
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