Why My Resume Says “Full-time Alzheimer’s Caregiver”

Posted on September 27, 2014

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Recently, I had to edit my resume for my job hunt. As you may all know, it’s the most boring and mind-numbing task of all. One has to glorify one’s mediocre self. Let’s face it, most of us are not as great as we think we are, or in some cases, as others think we are. Yet, our resume becomes our marketing tool. In two pages, we have to encompass everything we’ve done and subsequently how we’ve evolved over the years. It’s hard.

I had the privilege of having my resume looked at critically by a very kind and experienced gentleman from the corporate sector. He teaches business and heads a very successful division of a multinational company. His biggest advice to me was to list my accomplishments and explain briefly about the universities I attended and the companies I worked for. That’s when I came to my undergraduate degree section on my resume.

There, under “1998-2001    B.A. Psychology, St. Xavier’s College, Gujarat University” stood alone. There were no accomplishments. In fact, I barely graduated with 53%. When you look at that, it doesn’t look impressive at all. In fact, one might let their imagination wander and judge what this teenager might have been up to in college!

So here’s the truth. From 1998-2001, from the ages of 17 to 20, I was the primary caregiver to my mother who had Early Onset Alzehimer’s. This means, I would wake up in the morning, with the help of our nurse, change mom’s incontinence briefs while praying that I wouldn’t be late for college. But most mornings I was. I had to miss the first lecture that started at 8AM. When I got home, I would watch mom sitting idly, tied loosely to her chair to prevent her from falling over. If she was having a bad day, she’d be screaming at the top of her lungs or crying uncontrollably and inexplicably. These were the last three years of her life. These years, while I was trying to complete my undergraduate degree. She couldn’t talk. She couldn’t eat or swallow. She could only cry, shout, smile randomly or stare blankly.

But these were the “good years”. You know why? Because she was in the end stages of the disease. When my sister was in college four years before, mom was in the middle stages of the disease. She would get lost in our own neighbourhood, leave the stove or electronics on, soil herself without warning and of course, be barking mad at all of us. No nurses wanted to stay. No household help wanted to work at our house. People whispered about “madness” behind our backs. My sister took the hit. She dropped out of college to care for my mom full-time. I was too young to comprehend the damage it was doing to her psyche, her aspirations and dreams and of course, to her career.

And my sister is not alone. I am not alone. This is the story of all those people who do not receive credit for taking care of their loved ones to the best of their capacity. Billions of unpaid caregiver hours across the globe. Sacrifices made. Jobs lost. Relationships soured. Finances depleted. Experiencing loss every day, E.V.E.R.Y S.I.N.G.L.E D.A.Y. To honour each and everyone of these caregivers, my resume is now edited to read:
Resume Alz Caregiver

As I typed this out on my resume, I felt good. I felt strong. I felt validated. I felt like I was doing the right thing. I felt like I was recognizing myself, acknowledging my hard work and heartache. And yes, I would do it all over again. That’s Alzheimer’s for you. You continue to love long after the person you knew is gone! My experiences and struggles as a caregiver inspired me to go on and a get a Master’s in Social Work and have made it my life’s mission to contribute to the lives of those affected by dementia, and editing my resume to thus is a homage to caregivers everywhere.

Dedicated to my sister, Shraddha, for making the sacrifices with love, for taking care of my mother to the best of her capabilities. For always channeling mom in her advice to me now and in loving her own daughter. You are worthy of all the love in this world, but most importantly, RESPECT. 

And to my brother-in-law, Nimai, for standing by us through our most difficult times.

And to my dad, Vivek, for teaching my sister and me about love.

For caregivers everywhere…for every untold story…for every cried and uncried tear.

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Posted in: life