Caregiving With Geographic Atrophy

In my early 60s, I shared caregiving for my mom with my sister. Mom had wet macular degeneration requiring monthly injections. My caregiving involved taking care of my mom’s bills and keeping up with her many medical appointments. I drove her 200 miles round trip for her monthly injections. My sister with wet macular degeneration was on the same monthly schedule so I could take them at the same time.

I was blessed with good health and had not yet been diagnosed with macular degeneration or geographic atrophy (GA). Caregiving wasn’t difficult, and I was glad I could help provide care for my mom.

The challenges of caregiving a second time

Fast forward 10 years, and once again I find myself in a caregiver role for my sister. This time my husband and I will share caregiving with my brother and his wife. My sister lives with me 1 week at a time, alternating weeks with my brother. She is in poor physical health as well as having wet macular degeneration.

Driving with geographic atrophy

With early geographic atrophy, I am able to drive in familiar places in the daytime. With 4 serious chronic health conditions, my sister has frequent visits to various doctors. I can handle visits to her primary care provider but will depend on my brother to drive to her visits in the city. I hope and pray I can start injections for GA soon to preserve my vision and continue driving.

Handling family finances

Paying my sister's bills and monitoring her bank account may be my biggest challenge. The smallest size text I can read is 18-point. As we all know, bills come written in much smaller text. I plan to purchase a larger lighted magnifier so I can read more easily. All my bills are set up on autopay. I hope that is an option for her as well.

Meeting dietary needs and preferences

My sister is an insulin-dependent diabetic and has coronary heart disease. My challenge is to find ways to meet her dietary needs and please my husband and I. She and I both need to eat a Mediterranean diet for our macular degeneration, but it has to be adapted for her diabetes.

Have I said I really don’t like to cook? My poor eyesight makes it particularly challenging. I have memorized my favorite recipes. New recipes I want to try are downloaded to my iPad. I am able to enlarge the text, making recipes much easier to read.

The blessings of caregiving

In spite of the challenges, I believe that caring for my sister will be a blessing to all of us.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, my sister became a recluse. It was necessary, but the social isolation was particularly harmful emotionally as well as to her overall health. Being shut up in her apartment led to weight gain that impacts her health.

I am hopeful that being around family will improve her health. We can see to her physical needs and give her the socialization she so desperately needs.

My brother and I will be as blessed as my sister. Being in a position to provide her a safe and loving environment will bring joy into our lives.

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