Toronto

At 21, she had to put life on hold to care for her mom with Alzheimer's

'It affects everything,' Kathryn Fudurich says of her mom's illness

Kathryn Fudurich

Kathryn Fudurich and her mother Pat, who was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's in 2010. (Kathryn Fudurich)

 shares

When Kathryn Fudurich was only 21 years old her mom was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's and her world turned upside down.

Fresh out of university, Fudurich had to put her own life on the backburner and become a caregiver for her 55-year-old mother.

"It affects everything," she told CBC's Metro Morning.on Wednesday, which was World Alzheimer's Day.

"It challenges the family dynamics, the roles that everyone plays."

For years Fudurich, who blogs about her mom's struggle with Alzheimer's, spent nearly every day with her mom, knowing that when it comes to Alzheimer's, things don't get better.

Fudurich is also the co-founder of Memory Ball, a fundraiser that raises money for Alzheimer's research, and encourages awareness and support for young caregivers.

Putting life on hold

While most of her friends enjoyed their early 20s, Fudurich felt guilty every time she went out.

Fudurich's career also suffered, as she tried to spend as much time with her mother as possible. How could she not, she said, when her mom had devoted so much time to her?

"In the early stages it's almost like you're in survival mode. So you're making choices that will affect your short-term future," she said.

"I was always thinking, no matter where you go, that I could be helping mom right now."

Kathryn Fudurich and her mother and brother

Kathryn and her brother became caregivers for their mother when she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in 2010. (Memory Ball)

Now in the late stages of Alzheimer's, her mother is fairly detached from reality and can't name her family members, Fudurich says..

They mainly communicate through verbal and emotional cues.

'How's your mom doing?'

Like many people, Fudurich said she didn't understand how serious Alzheimer's was until confronting it herself. Now, she feels like her peers can't understand what she's going through.

Kathryn Fudurich

Kathryn Fudurich spoke to CBC's Metro Morning on World Alzheimer's Day. (CBC)

"When people ask you, 'How's your mom doing?' it's an impossible question to answer, because they're always doing worse than whatever the last time is that you talked to that person," she said.

Fudurich now blogs and makes videos to help people understand the disease. 

Taking a step back

When she turned 25, Fudurich realized she had to focus on her own life as well. She now sees her mom a few times a week.

"It kind of just got to a stage when it was too overwhelming and too stressful and not serving me in my own personal development," she said.

"Time's not stopping and my life's still moving forward and I need to put focus on my own future and build a good foundation for myself."

Kathryn Fudurich and her mother

Kathryn Fudurich still spends a lot of time with her mother, but is also focusing on building her own future. (Facebook)

More On This Story