Brenda Moseley

Figuring Out What is Right for Mom

Brenda-and-MaryBrenda Moseley (right) has been a caregiver most of her adult life. She received a Masters degree in Special Education and taught in Richmond before her mother, Mary, had a stroke fifteen years ago. Since she is an only child, Brenda became Mary’s long-distance caregiver, driving up to the city every two weeks to ensure that her mother was doing well. After about five years, Brenda was coming every weekend.

A life-long learner, Brenda turned to higher education as a coping mechanism, starting another Masters in Gerontology at Virginia Commonwealth University to learn more about her mother’s issues and ways that she could become a better caregiver. Then a year ago, Mary fell while they were on vacation in Buckingham, VA. After her broken bones healed, it was obvious that Mary’s dementia had worsened.

Brenda tried assisted living in Richmond but determined that it wasn’t a good fit for her mother. Mary, who had been the Chief of Biometrics at Walter Reed Medical Center, was dismayed at the “elderspeak” which Brenda describes as a form of baby talk that the staff used with the residents of the home. Mary insisted that the staff thought she was stupid and she began to spiral into depression. “I had to become a much more proactive advocate,” Brenda says.

Since Mary wanted to return home and there was no medical reason not to have her return to her beloved house in northeast Washington, Brenda made the decision to move back to the city to care for her mother. Upon returning home, one of the first places she called was Iona. After she called the Helpline, she received information about all sorts of assistance, including the Wellness & Arts Center at Iona.

Now a regular in the Center, Mary comes home happy every evening talking about all the activities she did that day. Brenda was granted permission to do her last two credits towards her Masters degree through volunteer work for Iona. Today, holding a brand new diploma in Gerontology, Brenda is networking and looking for a job helping elders in the community and the people who care for them. “I don’t know what I would have done without Iona. You all are a godsend.”