Role Reversal

Role Reversal by Mary Lynn Merriman

Can you really find joy when caring for a loved one with dementia?

Loretta Woodward Veney has worn many hats in her life – daughter, wife, mother, security specialist, trainer, author, inspirational speaker and more. The one hat she, like so many others, never expected to wear was being her mother’s caregiver, becoming, in essence, her mom’s mom. 

Loretta donned this new hat in 2006 when her mother, Doris Woodward, was diagnosed with early-stage dementia at the age of 77. Doris became one of the estimated 5.7 million Americans diagnosed with dementia. Loretta became one of 16 million Americans who provide unpaid care for someone with Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

With Doris’s diagnosis, “there was a role reversal, and my mom and I both recognized it,” said Loretta. “I knew my mother wouldn’t be going to any appointments without me. The only thing I was going to demand for her is that she be respected and don’t talk about her like she’s not right here in the room with us.  And, I was going to be her greatest advocate.” 

Loretta acknowledges she was unfamiliar with dementia and unprepared for the journey that was about to unfold.  

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