My Story Caring for a Parent with Dementia for 20 years

“Little girls who suffer trauma have dreams to become women who make a difference”

I started this clinic in 2020 because I never want any woman to go through what I have been through in my life sofar. Either with your own personal health or caring for a parent with a chronic illness in Ireland. I had anxiety and IBS all my adult life which largely became a complicated gut health condition called SIBO because of the gut brain axis and the connection to mental health. I endured 15 years of stress caring for mum who was living from her late 40s or early 50s undiagnosed with dementia. We were in college and away working in our 20s so maybe we would have noticed it earlier had we been home more. As the years went on in my mid 20 I was back living in Sligo I had more and more to do for her, maintenance of her house, food shopping, the bills, the mail, the appointments, her appearance etc.

My early 30s were the toughest, my dad passed away from a sudden brain haemorrhage. My siblings had moved to Canada for work, and mums depressive condition worsened after Dads death. She didn’t leave her house for 2 years and blamed herself for dads death. She wouldn’t go to a doctor, and I had 2 houses to manage at that point hers and my own. I had also advanced in my career I was travelling all over the country working. I had high pressure at work and at home with mum. But by the time she was 60 Mum was very depressed. She didn’t face her mental health and take anti-depressant medication until she was 62. The dementia had well set in by then from the years of being depressed and alone in her house, bad diet, no exercise, no friends and maybe early perimenopause and low hormones caused some of this. She took early retirement from work due to stress (or dementia!) at age 47. She was almost suicidal cause she wasnt taking the meds right, the meds we were trying, she was forgetting to take them. I was moving up the corporate ladder, travelling alot at work, moving into our newly built home and caring more for my mum whos condition was worsening. By the time I was 34 I had realised my own health was suffering so much that I decided to take redundancy when it was offered. I finished maternity leave after my first child and I started my skin clinic at home. I had 2 beautiful kids and studied for my MSc thesis at home.

I was so frustrated all those years looking after mum not knowing why she was not able to do stuff for herself. Why we had no diagnosis. Mum was diagnosed with dementia age 64 once she lost so much weight from forgetting to eat. I was under enormous stress then caring for mum 3 days a week in my house with 2 babies as I could only get limited home-help for mum in her house. I was managing a growing business aswell as team of 12 people to look after my mum and 2 babies screaming and demanding with no family to help me. By mid 30s my marriage and health was on the rocks because I wasn’t sleeping at all at night since I had my kids, I was so anxious still and my digestion was horrific, so slow. I wasn’t able to keep the house clean or cook meals and my husband was under stress managing it all solo. I was also bringing mum all over the country seeing could anyone stop the cognitive decline.

I had to give up on trying to get my mum better 2 years ago. We ran out of money trying all these supplements, herbs and hormones and when I nearly ended up in hospital with my own health stuff and I put her in care. A nursing home is really a place “that old people go to die”. The food is so poor. They dont exercise them. They dont leave the grounds for day trips. Theres very little stimulation. Because of covid there was so little visiting. The whole system is short staffed and needs to be overhauled like the wonderful residential care villages they have in Canada. We even looked into getting her into a residential village in Canada because my family are there but it was 150K Euro equivalent a year so sadly that wasnt an option.

For the 10 years I looked after her she was so well cared for. Then it was one chest and kidney infection after another since she went into care and she fell and broke her hip after the kidney infection last summer. I am now watching her die. She is non-verbal, only mutters now. Only walks if supported.  She doesn’t know us. She is only 72. It is heartbreaking to watch. All the interventions I had tried were stopped by the doctors because they hadnt heard of the Bredesen Protocal of Alzheimer’s reversal. Including the HRT and Herbs which was really helping her. It is all very sad. She may have another 1 to 2 years left at most at this point of writing. She is rapidly declining.

From watching my poor mums health decline due to lack of selfcare, obesity, high cholesterol, and high sugar diet and too much work and stress as a parent I am motivated to now care for myself, to have a less stressful life, and for my kids to be proud of me. I want to be in good health and I want to help you be well for your families. Way back in 2015 I knew I wanted to care for women inside and out. I knew someday I wanted to start a health and skin business. The perfect marriage of my 2 passions skin and gut health and a life of trauma to give me motivation. I started during 2020 and I have treated so many empowered women. Some day I hope to go on to pursue functional medicine when my kids are older. Everyday I get up knowing I make a difference in a woman’s life fills me with joy.

I am campaigning for change in Ireland and have asked Stephen Donnelly to put Dementia care in Ireland on the to do list. Currently there are no support groups for young people and this needs to change. Even a quarterly meeting per province. Dementia takes your friends away because between stress and lack of time caring you cant devote yourself to relationships outside the home.