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Rebecca Makonnen, spokeperson for our national campaign!

On September 19, 2018

Meet Rebecca Makonnen, read her story and discover why she agreed to be the spokesperson for our national campaign.


WHAT WAS YOUR CAREGIVER JOURNEY?

My mother was an independent woman, very proud and very independent. When she found out she had Alzheimer's disease, she was still very lucid. It was heartbreaking and very difficult, for her and for us. I could see that she was heartbroken because she felt that she was becoming a burden for us, that's how she interpreted it.

It brought me a lot closer to my mother at the end of her life. So far - knock on wood - that was the biggest test of my life.

 

HOW DID YOU END UP SEEKING HELP AND RESOURCES?

I realized that I needed help when I felt like the situation was getting out of control. Up to a certain point in the journey, I had been telling myself that my big sister and I could take care of everything. Then a time came when we realized that we were going to need some outside help.

I think that I realized quite quickly that it wasn't selfish to ask for help, but that, on the contrary, if I was doing well, I was ultimately going to be able to look after my mother better.

 

WHAT TYPE OF SERVICE DID YOU USE AND WHAT TYPE OF EXPERIENCE DID YOU HAVE WITH IT?

First, just a support group - which really wasn’t my thing because I am a very private person, not much into sharing emotions, even with my friends -

but then I was overwhelmed by what was happening. And I also felt kind of alone because my sister was living outside the country at the time.

I joined this group to break free from the isolation, to see if there were other caregivers who were in the same situation as me, and to have channels to better manage the situation: my mother's health, her anxieties, my incomprehension, my compassion…

I told myself that if I wanted to look after my mother properly, I had to go and talk to other people experiencing the same type of thing about available resources. Kind of like a user guide, like when you get a new smartphone and you want to know how it works! I needed to know exactly the steps to follow - insofar as possible - because at the same time, everything was unpredictable. Attending the support group comforted me immediately.

 

WHY DID YOU AGREE TO BE THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THIS CAMPAIGN?

Because I think that maybe people in this situation will see themselves in me. Without question, there are people right now who are saying “this is too great a responsibility, I feel completely overwhelmed by what is happening, how can I get a little help?”

And also, because I don’t’ think it can be done all alone, in fact, it's impossible. It's a grueling job, emotionally, physically exhausting; we come out of this experience emotionally enriched, but with our battery run down. And that's done all alone.

 

N.B. This text is the transcription of an interview held as part of the campaign.