Why I put my goals on hold to care for my mom


Patricia and her mother, Mildred

Patricia Tyson is a nurse at Seniorlink based in Indiana. Over the past 2 years she has been her mother’s primary caregiver. This is her story. Part 3 in a 3-part series on Seniorlink employees who are also caring for loved ones at home.

I have many hobbies and interests. I’m a musician, a baker, traveler and I enjoy practicing French. One of my goals in life is to retire and live in the South of France. However, 2 years ago I had to put my hobbies and goals on hold to care for my mother, Mildred.

She was 92 at the time. She had been living alone and doing quite well. Over the years I had noticed little instances involving memory loss and encouraged her to visit her doctor, but she never wanted to go, always saying she was fine. Then it happened.

My mother had been in church and mentioned to a friend that she was feeling under the weather. Her friend called me, worried that something was off. After her church service, I decided to stop over and check up on her. I suggested taking her to the ER, but she refused. She wasn’t making sense though, and I called 911. That was the last lucid conversation I ever had with her.

A new career, supporting caregivers

My mother has vascular dementia. This type of dementia is rare, and often causes problems with speech and memory. After her diagnosis, I did everything I could to get her talking again. While she’s able to speak, she can’t communicate. I haven’t had a true conversation with her since that awful day.

My career up until that point has been as a hospice nurse. I needed more flexibility to care for my mom, which is when I made the leap to work for Seniorlink. It’s been a blessing in so many ways.

First, I create my own schedule so I’m able to be with my mom and care for her whenever she may need me. Second, I get hands-on experience working with family caregivers, people like me, who all have their own loved ones with their own unique problems.

Lessons learned

While caring for my mom I quickly realized how difficult it can be to care for a parent. There are certain parent/child boundaries that are unsaid. She won’t allow me to guide her like I do with my patients as a nurse. Instead she pushes back, always trying to be independent of needing her daughter, so I often have to rephrase my asks of her, which in turn has helped me direct the caregivers I serve at work each day.

Throughout all of this, I’ve found a new hobby to be passionate about. I am writing a family cookbook. Reading through her old recipes and learning family history has been rewarding. I’m happy to pass on her legacy, and I’m happy that throughout all of this, I’m able to be there for her when she needs me most.  

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