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The End of An Era

Well, hello there. This is my first blog post since the holidays.

Last week, l learned of the passing of a dear former member of The Ivey. My heart went out to the family we got to know so well. Upon learning of her passing, I realized that I am overdue in reaching out to you readers to thank you for the notes of encouragement and love you’ve sent my way, since my Dad’s passing on December 11. That morning I was also reminded that the family we all become with the shared journeys of caring for our loved ones throughout the dementia journey keeps us close, strong and grateful.

Like Mom, Dad lived with dementia the last few years of his life. Although long distance, I was able to be his “mind-caregiver” – Skyping with him 3 times per week which were orchestrated by his extraordinary Care Manager, Sharon. For 2-3 hours/day and 3 days/week, she made sure his mind was engaged through long walks, conversation, recreation and exercise, or other special activities at the health center. For my Dad and me, those memorable calls enabled us to see each other, sing and laugh together, and allowed me to monitor his health while providing great “mind care,” the hallmark of what we do at The Ivey every day.

Although I was not able to have either of my parents attend The Ivey, I am so proud of how their lives informed The Ivey’s model of care. My father was an early advocate of the concept of The Ivey and became a supporter in the development of the campus and building. When he evolved from being my mother’s loving caregiver to the gentle person who needed care, I incorporated programming ideas I learned during his 3.5 year stay at the Davis Health Center in Wilmington.

It was mine and my brother’s honor and pleasure to walk this journey with him and be with him at the moment in time where the circle of life ends. Sometimes still sad, but at peace with his long life well lived, I am so grateful for the lessons learned from his life spent as caregiver and ultimately, as care recipient. His and my mother’s gift to me is to be able to pass on those lessons to families experiencing dementia, and help them create lives worth living and well lived throughout the circle of life. I hope my blogs can add to the work we do for the whole family here at The Ivey.

Without parents now, as many of you may be, life feels different. Thirty years ago, when my Dad’s last parent died, he told me that it is the end of an era. Now I understand.

(Got a comment? I love ’em! Email them here and I’ll read and reply.)