By ReShonda Tate
It’s a Monday morning in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and Shelly Taylor Page is rushing to get to her full-time job as a law professor at Southern Illinois University. But before she can get out the door, she must contend with her other full-time job as a caregiver to her elderly mother, who has dementia.
“I had to bring my mother from Houston to live with my husband and I here in Tennessee. And I’m not going to lie, it’s hard,” Page said. “I walk into her bedroom and she’s packed up everything. I have to find the toothbrush, the comb. I have to explain to her why she’s living in my house because in her mind, it’s 2006. She’s belligerent and wants to go home. Many mornings, I just burst out crying because I’m tired and I have to get to work.”
Page is grateful for the support of her husband, James, who works from 8 a.m. to noon, and helps out a lot. Support, she says, is crucial.
“The first two months was so hard. I’m yelling at my mom because I didn’t really get it. I struggle with my weight and she’d call me a fat, ugly b*tch and I would just break down. My husband steps in to remind me, ‘That’s not your mama saying that, it’s the disease.’ I didn’t get that. So it’s super important to have a serious support network, not just to help you physically, like if you need to run to H-E-B, but mentally,” Page said.