Caring for Parents with Dementia, Janet Fraser Writes Loving Memoir of Their Journey: Just Another Day in the Retirement Home

Just Another Day in the Retirement HomeThe story behind the story . . . Just Another Day in the Retirement Home by Janet V. Fraser

Caring for aging parents is an experience very few of us are prepared for. Our parents are with us from the very beginning —- nurturing and supporting us well into adulthood, if we have been fortunate enough to have caring and loving parents. The role reversal which occurs when they age and become dependent upon us for support and comfort is both a challenge and an honour. We become their voice, and their advocate when they can no longer speak for themselves. We become their eyes and their ears when they have difficulties with their vision and hearing. We cry with them and laugh with them. We cherish the time we have left to be with them, not knowing how long that will be. We reminisce with them about the past, not knowing how much longer they will remember. I needed to share my experience about issues that arose as I navigated the maze of caring for aging parents, as well as a complex health care system, which they needed for the first time in their lives. Caring for those who once cared for us is both a privilege and a challenge, giving us an opportunity to learn valuable life lessons about giving, loving and compassion. I felt the need to share those lessons with others.

Although I worked my entire career as a Registered Nurse, I was not prepared for the challenge of the role reversal that was required when both my parents developed dementia and needed my help in a new way. It was an eight-year journey filled with ups and downs, tears and laughter, sadness and also joy. It is a love story about two elderly people who showed love and commitment to one another even in their final years as dementia progressed. Although they were losing memories and abilities, their feelings and emotions were very real, and the essence of who they were remained intact. There are life lessons to share in this story about caregiving, love, life and loss.

This book is a human story, with universal appeal, about a situation which most of us will have to experience sooner or later, whether it is with parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings or friends. We all have parents or someone who is like a parent, who nurtures and mentors us as we grow. We all experience grief and loss, as those we love age and the relationship changes. My book is written from a daughter’s perspective, rather than a medical or nursing perspective, making it simple enough for any reader, who might be a busy caregiver, and for those who need to know they are not alone in this journey.

I experienced the realization that I could still find joy, love and gratitude, in spite of the fact that I was losing my parents. Our relationship, as I once knew it, was over, yet I still loved who they were, even as dementia was stealing away their abilities and memories. I learned to celebrate who they were, through all the stages of their life, knowing that this is part of the circle of life. In this way, I believe that my story helps to end the stigma, that dementia is a dreadful end to a meaningful life. Just as every life stage has lessons to teach us, so too, the final stage in a loved one’s life brings meaning and wisdom.

About the Author

JANET FRASER is a first-time author with a background in nursing. She earned her RN, Bachelor of Science degree in Nursing as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. Since retiring from many years as a Public Health Nurse for the City of Hamilton, she spends much of her time advocating for health services in the community and visiting the elderly with her dog, Katie.
Although Janet’s work as a Registered Nurse was primarily with children and youth, her experience as a client advocate led her to the role of advocate for her aging parents in the retirement home. This experience—as a daughter, rather than a nurse—inspired Janet to write this memoir.

Janet enjoys an active lifestyle with her husband, Jim. She enjoys hiking, cycling, sailing, skiing, and swimming, and is a passionate organic gardener. Janet is also an advocate for the environment, and hopes to leave a healthier, greener world for her two children, three step-children and eleven grandchildren. Janet lives with her husband, Jim, and her dog, Katie, in Hamilton, Ontario.

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Twitter: Janet Fraser @janetfraser15

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Instagram : Janet V. Fraser #janetvfraser

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