Caring for my mother

Carmel Geoghegan, Founder of Dementia Ireland, writes about her experience of caring for her mother and the rewards, stigma and life changing experiences it brought.

This year, International Women’s Day focuses on equality; both at the individual and collective level. Our individual actions, behaviours and mindsets have the ability to impact society at a large scale. If we each focus on making society equal for all, we can create a gender equal world.

In part two of this series for International Women’s Day, Carmel Geoghegan writes about her experience of caring for her mother, touching on the rewards, stigma and life changing experiences it brought her.

When Mum’s personality started to change and she began to withdraw from the world around her, I somehow slotted into the role of her primary carer. It was a life changing experience – the positives and negatives in some ways balanced each other out.

The negatives were loss of social contact, your friends, social life, financial and health issues also followed. The stigma around the diagnosis was unbelievable, nobody wanted to talk about the elephant in the room. My life was totally consumed by my new role and I often thought it must be similar to becoming a mum for the first time.

The positives for me were the circle of life was completed, you become your loved one’s protector, the roles have reversed. An amazing experience that I would never change. I began building awareness once I got my own head around what was happening, since Mum’s death I have continued to do this. Encourage conversations within families, friends, organisations, medical specialists and the wider communities.

It also changed my life in other ways, I went back to education, opened myself up to challenges I would never have encountered if I had not become Mum’s voice. I have met amazing people both local, nationally and on an international level. My life has been completely transformed and it is now a very positive one which I hope is making a difference to society, no matter how small.

Carmel Geogheghan is the founder of Dementia Ireland. She advocates for dementia and end of life care as a national health priority. Her advocacy is inspired by her time as a carer for her mother, Angela Doris Geogheghan.

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