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A Daughter Shares How Being the Caretaker for Her Mom Inspired Her New Mission As An Alzheimer’s Trainer

Being a caretaker to her mother led Ty Lewis to become a certified Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Trainer

Seeing her mom’s tears, Ty Lewis sat down and gently lifted her 80-year-old mother, Gertrude Jordan, who has Alzheimer’s disease, onto her lap and rocked her. Instantly, her mother calmed down. Moments like this are poignant reminders for 45-year-old Ty of how the tables have turned. I am now everything for Mom that she was once for me: comfort, safety, patience, provision and, most important, love. Here, Ty shares her journey in her own words.

Ty’s story of resilience

“When we set out on this path in 2014, I wanted to make sure that I was prepared for what lay ahead. I worked with my mom’s doctor as well as mental health experts and a speech pathologist. And after Mom’s husband passed away in 2020, I moved her into my home so I, along with my husband and two daughters, could go ‘all-in’ to care for Mommy.

“I, like so many, know firsthand that being an Alzheimer’s caregiver is hard, especially when children are involved and navigating dementia as it progresses. As a former special ed teacher, I’m blessed to have insight and strategies from years of working with students who have special needs that have helped me face Mommy’s challenges.

“Realizing that’s not the case for everyone, three years ago, I became a Certified Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Care Trainer to provide education, resources and strategies to others. I also share my journey on Instagram (@iamgertrudejordan), which has become an incredible community of support, hope and encouragement.”

Ty Lewis in happy family photo with her family and mother, Gertrude, who has Alzheimer's
Ty (second from right) with her husband, daughters and mom (front)Photo couresty of Ty Lewis

Related: A Mom Shares Her Story of How She Found Hope Caring for Special Needs Kids

In it together

“Every person’s experience is different, but there are certain things that can help every caregiver. Number one is faith in God,” Ty says. “Knowing He is always with you and will give you strength. Patience also plays a big role. I always say you can’t beat dementia—you’ll never win battling someone with hallucinations, delusions or altered perceptions. Instead, I try to step into Mom’s world and lead with love.

“Sure, there are days I get frustrated or wake up and think, I don’t want to do this. So I’ll duck into my closet, yell or cry, then open the door and boss up. I’ll say out loud, ‘Okay, God, give me wisdom, peace and strength.’

“I also remind myself that I’m not alone. Being vulnerable and honest with others by sharing the good and bad keeps me going. Those connections allow us to learn from each other and know, even on days we are hurting, there’s also love, joy and beauty.

Related: Overwhelmed from Caregiving Stress? Here’s How Humor Can Help

Ty Lewis and mom, Gertrude, embrace
Ty Lewis with mom, GertrudePhoto courtesty of Ty Lewis

“Having a caregiver community also holds me accountable to care for myself, helps me stay sane and reminds me that even though this is hard, it’s doable. There’s no right or wrong way to walk this path. I’m doing it the best way I know how—and that’s through honoring my mom and helping others do the same for their loved ones.

“Mommy took care of so many others, and as I hold her, it’s a gentle reminder that it’s her turn. Every day, I pray for the endurance to run this race well until the end. Life isn’t easy and, at times, it’s unfair, but while I’m able, I’ll do the work with joy and spread that light.”

For more inspiring stories on caregiving:

Experts Share 10 Ways to Outsmart Caregiver Burnout, Plus the ‘Zoom In’ Secret to Easing Stress

5 Tips for The Single Caregiver So You Don’t Burn Yourself Out

How to Care for Kids and Elderly Parents, Simultaneously

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