Chasity Brooks’ caregiving journey began in 2017, when her mother-in-law, Jean, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Although Jean recently passed away at the age of 84, Chasity continues to spread awareness of Alzheimer’s disease by raising funds for a cure through Walk to End Alzheimer’s. Below, she shares her story and tips for Alzheimer’s caregiving and fundraising.
The role of a caregiver
My brother-in-law unexpectedly passed away in 2014. At the time, my mother in-law lived with him in Tennessee. Her other sons, including my husband, lived in Florida, where she went to each of our homes until she finally settled with us in the beginning of 2017. She lived with us until gaining her wings in 2021, on New Year’s Day.
The most challenging part of being a caregiver is giving up your life to care for theirs and to have the patience and understanding of what they may be going through. I stopped working to care for her. We left our lifestyle to conform to how she needed to be taken care of, and we had to develop a routine every day while at the same time expecting every day to still be an adventure due to living in an Alzheimer’s world.
The most rewarding parts of being a caregiver are knowing exactly how your loved one is being cared for and the little moments you wouldn’t have had if they had not been in the home. What surprised me the most were the moments when I knew what would come next because it was common in the disease, but somehow, it still affected me when it actually happened.
My husband was a source of help. He would put in a hand whenever he could to take care of his mom, no matter the task. I was the one that got her up in the morning, and either he or both of us were the ones putting her to bed.
The art of fundraising
I believe what has made me a successful fundraiser is that I never stop. I am always posting, verbalizing, trying to get the word out and not giving up.
I first started fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Association when I was the captain of the first Walk to End Alzheimer’s team I was involved with in 2016. I decided to fundraise for the number of people Alzheimer’s disease affects.
One in every three seniors dies with Alzheimer’s or another dementia, and it hurts every family who has to watch what it does to a person they care about; it’s horrific. Further, the number of people with the disease is growing, and there is no recovery. It will not go away without help, and we need to figure out what that help is.
Advice for others
Our family support system was with each other. My advice for someone who may have a loved one diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia is that you are not alone. I advise finding an online group you can talk to and learn from. Everyone should engage in this cause because Alzheimer’s is not biased, and it doesn’t care who you are when it comes for you.
I sought the support of the Alzheimer’s Association because I was already a caregiver and wanted to educate myself on the disease better. I attended one of the organization’s programs where a volunteer spoke about the symptoms of the disease. The program helped me because it gave me a person to talk to and I was able to ask questions.
A caregiver also has to have something else to distract them at times. If you dwell on what is happening it will drive you crazy, depressed and you are no good for anyone unless you have some sanity. My distraction of life is staying busy.
Chasity Brooks is in the arts field and enjoys challenging herself and learning new crafts such as photography. Currently, she attends Pensacola State College and teaches small children at church on Wednesday nights. Chasity and her husband have two grandchildren and recently adopted two children they’ve fostered for 2 ½ years. When she’s not teaching or crafting, she loves spending time with her husband and family.