Local Author Chosen for Chicken Soup Sequel
Mar 26, 2014 11:03AM
By Megy Karydes
Carrie Jackson and her father
Evanston resident Carrie Jackson didn’t sign up to be a caregiver to her father, who passed away in 2012 after suffering from Alzheimer’s for eight years. But Jackson, now a certified dementia practitioner, was in her 20s and busy stocking diapers and Ensure, checking in with his nurses and visiting and spending time with him while her friends were going out and having fun.
“It was a lot to handle all by myself,” she says, adding that other family members weren’t involved in helping her care for him. “Caring for a dying parent is incredibly draining, and most people in their 20s and 30s aren’t able to fully understand what’s involved.”
Jackson saw a call for submissions of encouraging and inspiring stories for the latest book in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias: 101 Stories of Caregiving, Coping, and Compassion, and decided to submit some essays she wrote when she was actively caring for him. A piece she wrote in 2010, when he was first admitted to hospice, was chosen. The book comes out April 22.
“It’s not a happy essay; it’s called ‘The Hand That Feeds,’ and it’s my struggle to feed him when he’s spitting up and in pain and miserable, and the caregiver comments on how strong our connection is and how much he loves me,” she begins. “Then I remember that the hospice nurse said he could live for quite a long time if he keeps eating—and I am conflicted.”
Today, Jackson is very involved with Alzheimer’s advocacy, education and fundraising. She sits on the Alzheimer’s Association’s Junior Board, chairs pALZ, a peer-to-peer mentoring program for young people affected by the disease, and was among the top 25 fundraisers in all of Chicago for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s last year. Jackson shared her story to paint a snapshot of what it’s like to be a caregiver for a person that can do very little for himself.