We had the pleasure of interviewing Rosanne Corcoran, a former caregiver to her mother. While caring for her mother, she realized she needed support and a community of people who knew exactly what she was going through. When she realized there wasn’t a lot of support and community groups around her, she decided to create a regional Daughterhood Circle and a podcast, “Daughterhood The Podcast: For Caregivers”.
Tell us about your background and your experience as a family caregiver.
Sometimes you never know when you become a caregiver. I’ve always felt like one, but my official entry into the world of dementia was when I noticed some changes in my fiercely independent and full-of-life beloved mother. For the next six years, I watched and waited. I worried and hoped, not sure when things would change, but knowing full well they would.
After moving my mother into our house after an emergency, I became fully ensconced in dementia caregiving. My daughters, a senior in high school and an eighth-grader, as well as my husband, had to readjust to life in our house. The responsibility, guilt and stress all piled on as I tried to juggle how to continue to be involved with my family while I cared for and supported my mother. There were times life felt like a sitcom, but one I’m not sure anyone would watch.
I am the youngest in my family and the closest to my mother. If anyone was going to care for her, it was going to be me. When the time came, I accepted that responsibility without reservation. But, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t hard and heart-breaking. Those feelings can exist at the same time.
Living in the sandwich generation, every day ended the same way for me– feeling like I let someone down. No matter what I was doing, I felt like I should be with the other. I was painfully aware of time. My children were growing up, and my mother was growing older.
That’s the thing about caregiving. There are so many emotions you can’t quantify or explain. It’s a loving, giving gift of your time and energy and yet most times you doubt yourself in your role.
Caring through the pandemic was incredibly difficult. Isolation is a part of caregiving but the pandemic increased that a thousand percent. The fear of someone bringing the virus in, coupled with the thought of what if I got sick, who would care for my mother, made the anxiety almost unbearable. And the toll of caring alone with no breaks really affected my body and my mind.
Now that my caregiving journey has ended, I think about important lessons I’ve learned. The practical ones, like taking care of yourself, it is vital. Identify and accept your role as the person in charge. It’s freeing. Embrace it. Maintain connections with supportive people in your life, sever the ones who aren’t. Educate yourself not only about the disease or condition your care partner has but also in how to care for them and your relationship.
The life lessons. Notice the little things that you don’t think matter. Soak in the comfort of being in someone’s presence. Be present in each moment. The gift of life.
What do you know now, that you wish you knew then?
To get support sooner than later. It makes all the difference in the world knowing you have support. If you don’t have it in your life now, try to think of those around you who can help. If there is no one, it’s okay to look outside of those you know.
Also, the decisions I made along the way were the correct ones. That my instincts were correct. I think one of the most important things to remember in caregiving is you know your person the best. Follow your instincts and be their advocate.
How different are you today compared to when you first became a caregiver?
I began this process as an empathetic person and that empathy grew exponentially. Every day, it guided me in the right direction. Reducing confusion and providing comfort was the goal. I wanted my mother to know that she was a blessing to me, no matter what.
As a caregiver, what resources would you like to have available?
In a perfect world, I would love every doctor’s office to have a social worker who could provide local resources and support. They could also assist with qualifying for VA or Medicaid. Caregivers would then at least have a starting point.
How has being a caregiver influenced your career and life?
Once you have been a primary, in-home, dementia caregiver for someone you love, the reality is you can do anything. It has given me confidence in my abilities and has sharpened my already inquisitive nature. Now that my caregiving journey is over, I want to use the opportunity I have to continue providing that practical information on the podcast and to help other caregivers know they can do it, they aren’t alone in doing it and they can survive it.
What do you do for self-care?
For the last two years my self-care has been pretty dismal. Caregiving in a pandemic will do that. Each day, I looked for ways to care for myself in my home. I would journal, sometimes multiple times throughout the day. Listening to audio books was also a help – celebrity biographies are my favorite. Meditating, or at least trying to breathe with Insight Timer, my favorite app. Listening to music or watching musicals with my mother was always joyful.
Now, in my after caregiving life, self-care has changed again. My old routine still applies, but grieving adds another layer. I am following what my heart needs.
Can you tell us about Daughterhood the Podcast?
In January 2019, I started a Daughterhood Circle support group in my area. Meeting other caregivers who were experiencing much of the same feelings and challenges made me feel less alone and validated. We all yearn for real, practical information and resources that can be used in our homes. My experience inspired me to create “Daughterhood The Podcast: For Caregivers” in November of that year.
The goal is to provide sound advice from expert sources delivered by a compassionate confidant who was in the trenches. Someone you can trust and who understands not only caregiving, but the associated feelings. Practical and concise information so you can keep your focus.
The podcast has brought many gifts during my journey. It provided a lifeline for me while I was caring and continues today. I have developed great relationships and am humbled when someone expresses gratitude for providing a constant for them while they navigate their own journey, feel less alone and validated.
What else would you like to share with fellow caregivers?
Try to be compassionate with yourself.
Twitter – https://twitter.com/RosannePodcast
Blog – https://www.heyroe.com/
Daughterhood Website – https://www.daughterhood.org/
Rosanne’s story is a great example of how support, resources and community can make all the difference. If you are a family caregiver, click here to find your local CRC to connect with resources today!Share this post: