{My Story} “I am the primary caregiver for my father . . . and I’m lucky.”

When FOF Liz Vogel’s father got Alzheimer’s, she became his caretaker. Most would be devastated, here’s why she feels “lucky.”



[Editor’s note: The essay below, by FOF Liz Vogel, is part of a series of personal blogs from our readers. Have your own story to tell? Email your idea to geri@faboverfifty.com.]

I have come to realize I am one of the lucky ones. I am the primary caregiver for my father. He lives two miles away in an independent living community, but I see him, or am in touch with him, every day. We lost my Mom three years ago, and since that time I’ve had the true pleasure of getting to know my Dad.

He has navigated his way, with amazing grace, from Mild Cognitive Impairment/Dementia to Alzheimer’s over the last three years. When he needed help writing checks, because his handwriting was getting worse, he asked for it. When his balance was declining and I felt his safety was at risk, he was gracious about letting me get a walker for him. When I thought a safety pendant for emergencies was prudent, he agreed. When I told him he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, he looked at me, winked, smiled and said, “It is what it is, right? The good news is I probably won’t remember tomorrow!”

Not everyone has this experience. Dementia and Alzheimer’s can rob us of the person we once knew and replace him or her with a stranger. The man I have come to know in these last few years is filled with compassion, wonderfully dry humor, curiosity, sincere interest in participating with his community, and a deep appreciation for the beauty of the natural world. I suspect I may be seeing the essence of the man versus the father.

As a physician, my father spent his life caring for others. In fact, I think the last three years have been an opportunity for him to take a well deserved rest. But, perhaps because he provided so much to others for years, he understands the role of caregiver and provides me with the freedom to help him when he needs it.​​

I am learning: I don’t know what it is like to be 86, but I suspect it’s not that much different than being any other age. You want a life filled with opportunities and choices and to be treated as an equal. Every day, my father teaches me how to live and behave with grace, and I hope I do him proud as I wander through these next years.

Liz Vogel is President & CEO of Dots, Inc., and on-line service that connects the dots between the people, communities and information involved in healthy aging and caregiving.  See more at www.trustdots.com.

6 Responses to “{My Story} “I am the primary caregiver for my father . . . and I’m lucky.””

  1. Maryl H says:

    Wonderful story. I too have ageing parents. My mother has early Alzheimers and I and my sisters grieve losing her and the way she was, we have had difficult days and good days. Fortunately my sisters are both nurses as I am and my mother was so most times we are on the same page, we are also capable of talking things over and coming to compromise. Dad is in a new role and at 89 yrs old it has been a challenge but he is trying so hard to do what is right for Mom. We make meals for them weekly but just training Dad to remember to take them out in the morning has been a challenge, everything we have suggested Dad do he has done, sometimes we have to leave notes to remind him but he does it. Everything we as a family are doing is to keep our mother in her home with our Dad and in a familiar place for her to live. Doing this is not always easy but it is the only way we as daughters would have it. I am thankful my parents raised us the way they did, and always to be there for each other.

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  2. Pat says:

    What a beautiful perspective you have. I am saving this story. Truly a gift

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  3. bgv says:

    She is very lucky that her dad has not changed like many of those who have memory issues. A complete change is personality has taken many of us by surprise.

    Enjoy your time with your Dad, it is precious.

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  4. VJ says:

    Liz,
    It is wonderful that you have such a relationship with your father. I didn’t have that with mine or my mother and I so wish I could go back and make changes.
    I do fear getting to a point where I have to be taken care of, especially if my husband is taken before me. It is a very scary thought.
    Although I would love to think that I will handle whatever the future may bring with the grace that Lizs’ dad shows, I fear that may not be the case.

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    • Liz says:

      Thank you VJ. I think it is difficult to know how any of us will react to any new or unknown situation. As I mentioned in my piece, I have had good role models, but I never dreamed this role would be such a big part of my life. I try to have patience and agility, so when I am confused or impatient I step back and give myself some leeway to learn or accept the situation as it is and then think of an innovative way around it if necessary. It’s a long lesson to learn, but hopefully I have several more years to learn!

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  5. Kathi says:

    I have the priviledge of knowing Liz personally. Her new professional endeavor, DOTS, Inc has been a labor of love for Liz. Every father should be so lucky to have a daughter so devoted. This comes through on a daily basis in her business as well. The goal of DOTS is to help all of us baby boomers care for our aging parents and plan for the future so our children will be better able to assist us. I only hope that I will be as gracious as Liz’s dad as I grow old.

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