Lenore Rivera: Becoming a Caregiver


Lenore Rivera and I spent about an hour at the InnovAge Greater Colorado PACE-Chambers Center talking about what it takes to be a caregiver:

  • the challenges,
  • the emotions,
  • the surprises.

Lenore’s mother spends most days of the week at the center.

Lenore is a gracious, strong, compassionate woman who loves her mom and does her best to balance competing responsibilities and the see-saw emotions inherent in caring for a family member with Alzheimer’s. Her story is riveting, heart-breaking and hopeful.

Every Thursday over the next two months Lenore will share her experiences. This is her first post.

Jordan Gruener

Part one

Whenever I used to hear the term “caretaker,” I immediately assumed the person being spoken of was one with professional qualifications in the nursing field. With little knowledge of what Alzheimer’s disease really entails, I never thought for a moment I would be the one person in my family to be the “caretaker” for my mother.

During the early stages of my mother’s illness, and because I lived in another state, each time I came home the signs weren’t of noticeable differences. I’m not even certain my father noticed the changes in her gradual memory loss, the misplacement of everything, the post-it notes she had in every room reminding herself of little chores. How could he? He was too close to the situation and certainly didn’t want to hurt her feelings by insinuating she may need help.

It wasn’t until my father had a stroke that I noticed a dramatic change in my mother’s personality. It was like a water dam had suddenly opened.

While at the hospital with my parents, I left the room for an hour or so and one of the head nurses came to me and wanted to talk about my mother. She had been observing her for several days now, and told me that she was more concerned about her, than my father. She knew my mother was not capable of taking care of my father once he was released from the hospital.

I completely fell apart. I knew for myself she was right. What was I going to do?

I had no idea where to turn. My parents didn’t have a lot of money, and I wanted so badly to keep them together. I promised them I would. Well, the administrative department worked hard to find a wonderful and affordable place for my parents. They lived at Braswell’s Chateau Villa in Redlands, California.

During the time my dad was in the hospital, my mother and I took care of business. We arranged for me to be an owner on all their bank accounts. I was also given power of attorney to take care of all financial matters, which, by the way, means absolutely nothing these days!

Every company, every bank, every financial institution I dealt with required THEIR power of attorney forms be legally signed and notarized! The only thing that actually worked effortlessly was that I was a signer on the bank accounts. With that authorization, I was fully able to pay my parents’ bills and help them in that manner. It was good timing, as I later learned that with both my parents being ill, they no longer were capable of signing legal forms.

Lenore RiveraLenore Rivera





This blog is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding your health or medical needs.

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