Episode 75: Caregiver Conversation with Cameron Huddleston

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Cameron Huddleston is back on the podcast! You can also find her on episode 66. Cameron and I wanted to offer her caregiver story and that is what this episode is all about. In this conversation, Cameron shares her journey as her mother's caregiver and how she navigated Alzheimers, dementia, her mother’s cancer, and covid. 

Show Notes

1:05 - Cameron shares stories with us about her parents and family. How she came about moving back home and was able to catch changes she saw in her mom.

2:30 - The signs of Alzheimers Cameron began seeing with her mom.

4:07 Her experiences and how she included her mom's Dr and had her tested for Alzheimers.

4:43 Cameron’s mom had a friend that suggested she get tested for Alzheimers that ultimately diagnosed her at 65.

5:08 How it feels, as a caregiver and child, to receive the Alzheimers diagnosis for a parent.

5:31 Cameron describes what legal documents she knew she needed to set up so she could help her mom in the future when she needed it.

6:00 Cameron describes how her mom’s Alzheimers progressed. The support she set up for her mom while she still lived on her own. 

7:00 Protecting her mom from financial scams and realizing it was time for her mom to move in with her. 

7:40 Cameron sets up services and support for her mom to help her care for her and still be able to parent her children and continue to work. 

8:00 Cameron shares how she worked to balance caregiving along with everything else in life she was responsible for. 

9:00 Benefits of having mom stay at home with them as well as difficulties. 

9:45 The effect of the stress of caregiving and realizing that she couldn’t give her mom the care that she needed. 

10:23 Memory care.

11:00 Cameron shares how she prepared herself for the inevitable challenges and outcome of her mother having Alzheimers

12:24 The different phases and change in roles for Cameron and her mother. 

14:25 Parental/ child role reversal. Taking care of her parent and the difficulties that role created. 

15:30 How memory care allowed Cameron to focus on being her daughter.

16:00 The work Cameron did as a caregiver while her mom was in memory care.

17:20 The benefits of having outside help with a family member who has Alzheimers.

19:00 Different ways of caregiving and how everyone has to make it work the way it should for their family.

20:00 Cameron tells us how great it was to move her mother closer to home and recounts the happy moments her children had with their grandmother.

22:17 Early 2019 Cameron’s mother is diagnosed with cancer. She shares the difficulties of having to help hospital personnel with her mother.

28:00 Cameron gets another call from her mother’s facility. She needs to be checked for recurring cancer but if she leaves she has to quarantine for 10 days before going back to the facility. Cameron found a facility her mom could quarantine in. 

29:00 Cameron describes how covid policies created more difficulties for her and in getting her mom to the hospital for a biopsy. 

30:00 Cameron finds out her mom’s cancer is back and has spread to a lymph node. She realizes that the treatments available would be impossible due to her mom’s progressed Alzheimers and Demntia. 

31:15 Cameron, her family, and Dr decide that treatments would not be beneficial and the Dr gets her mom’s facility to take her back instead of having her quarantine in a different facility due to the fact that she had a negative covid test.

31:45 Cameron realizes that when she drops her mom off at the facility with terminal cancer she wound not be allowed in to visit her.

32:10 Mom’s facility allows visiting in the late summer. Her mother doesn’t realize Cameron came for visits because of masking and distancing. 

33:09 Covid causes her facility to close again and in December 2020 covid cases started showing up in her mother’s facility. She is told if her mom tests positive for covid she would have to quarantine in a different facility.

34:00 Cameron starts planning for what she would do if her mom needed to quarantine and coordinated with hospice just in case.

35:25 Cameron’s mom gets her first vaccine and had stopped eating and drinking much and is ready to go into a hospice facility.

35:54 Three days later her mom tested positive for covid and the hospice facility wouldn’t allow her in. 

36:23 Cameron makes the difficult decision to bring her mother home with just a few hours to set things up for her mother. 

36:50 Hospice brings everything needed over to Cameron’s house. Her family moves to different parts of the house before she brought her mother home. 

37:00 Cameron sees her mom for the first time in a couple of months and is surprised at her decline. She shares the difficulties in getting her into the house on her own. 

38:32 Cameron cares for her mom while she has covid, in her home with very minimal help.

39:29 Cameron describes the last days with her mom.

40:43 Cameron realizes she needs more help and has her sister come to assist her. 

41:00 Caring for her mom during her last days with the limitations caused by covid.

41:47 Cameron shares how she wasn’t prepared to watch her mom struggle with pain and to watch her die. 

42:09 You can’t be emotionally prepared for the death of a loved one.

43:00 Cameron's experience with being with her mother when she passed. How she had to deal with the loss on her own because she had to quarantine after her mom’s death. 

45:00 The trauma that Cameron lives with after experiencing her mother’s death. 

46:00 Shares one of the last tender moments before her mom’s death. 

48:54 Discussing the end of life. The importance of sharing our experiences so people can learn more about what they can expect. 

51:08 Cameron’s recommendations for other caregivers

53:45 Recap

You can find more about Cameron Huddleston at her website https://cameronhuddleston.com



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