Rosanne Corcoran is a carer – or to use her American word, a caregiver. She is also a daughter, wife, mother and podcaster. This week she spoke to me from her home in Philadelphia, USA . Her dad died when she was 16 and she’s very close to her 92-year-old mum.
For the past 12 years, since her mum was diagnosed with, first mild cognitive impairment and then Alzheimer’s, Rosanne has been her main carer, and in 2015 her mum moved in with her and her family. Before she had to give it up, her career was in real estate.
To put it bluntly, in her own words, she is a full-time, sandwich-generation dementia caregiver and she’s exhausted. And that was before Covid struck; before she lost the caregiver who came in for four hours a day so she could run errands; before her younger daughter’s high school closed.
For months now Rosanne has barely left the house; when she does she hurries home for fear of bringing the virus back with her. She doesn’t think her mum Rose, who needs help with all her everyday needs, would survive were she to catch it.
Last November, Rosanne wrote an open letter “To Dementia” for Next Avenue, an influential US website on ageing. In it she describes how the disease has taken a beautiful, independent, light of a woman and turned her into someone whose world has been shrunken to one room.
“I am consumed with worry and fear and guilt and sadness and anger over watching my mother slip away, all the while trying to stay involved in my children’s lives,” she writes.
Yet Rosanne still manages to be upbeat. “At least my children learn about what’s important in life; at least my mother knows she is loved; at least we have dinner together; at least we can laugh”.
Like me, she’s found a creative outlet in writing and podcasting. Each month she writes, records, edits and produces Daughterhood the Podcast on the Whole Care Network: where her guests have ranged from Teepa Snow, one of the world’s leading educators on dementia care to our own Tommy Dunne, a Liverpudlian who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 58.
Speaking to Rosanne about her roles as carer, mother and podcast host was a delight. She’s warm, honest, knowledgeable and – despite her mum’s sleep patterns ensuring she rarely gets to bed before the sun comes up (the day we spoke it was 3.15am) – fluent and charming. But why take my word for it? Tune in to any of the podcast platforms above to hear her fabulous mid-Atlantic voice.