Daughters, meet fellow daughter, Aisha Adkins.
Aisha is a Millennial and a full-time caregiver for her mother and founder of Our Turn 2 Care, a platform for young adult caregivers who are people of color or members of the LGBTQA community. She’s an authentic storyteller who’s driven by her faith, inspired by her family, and eager to use her talents to affect positive social change.
Aisha earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology from Georgia Southern University and has worked in fields ranging from healthcare to technology to nonprofit development. When she is not a doting daughter and agent of change, she enjoys classic film, traditional jazz, and cookies-n-cream ice cream.
. Thanks, Aisha for sharing your story and amazing passion!
“Fronto…? What’s that” Oh, it’s sort of like Alzheimer’s? But she’s so young!”
I’m sure we’ve all had those conversations. You know, the ones that happen when you run into a family friend you haven’t seen in awhile at the grocery store. “Hey! It’s so good to see you! How are your parents?” the friend exclaims. Life happens, so sometimes you respond with a glowing report of a South Florida beachside retirement, while other times you have to inform friends that “Mom isn’t doing so great.” If Mom was just diagnosed with breast cancer, the friend may ask about chemo and surgery. They may even offer to drop off a breakfast casserole with flowers and a pink “Get Well Soon” balloon.
Unfortunately, when your loved one is fifty-seven years old and has been diagnosed with Frontotemporal Dementia, the friend looks at you with a combination of horror and confusion. “Fronto…? What’s that” Oh, it’s sort of like Alzheimer’s? But she’s so young!” More questions follow about when she will get better, if you’ve looked into nursing homes, and if you’re taking care of yourself.
After you run into about the fifth family friend, your answers become rote and robotic. You used to respond defensively with underlying rage, appalled that anyone would dare ask such ridiculous, insensitive questions. Now, you realize that people ask questions (even seemingly rude ones) because they know absolutely nothing about the disease and how it truly affects your family.
“When my mother was first diagnosed with FTD, I thought it was important for me to maintain some semblance of an “average millennial life.” ”
When my mother was first diagnosed with FTD, I thought it was important for me to maintain some semblance of an “average millennial life.” I applied for jobs at trendy tech startups and planned for weekend getaways – neither of which panned out. Then it dawned on me that all of these uncomfortable conversations were preparing me for a greater purpose. I was going to become a caregiving and FTD ambassador.
After years of running from my purpose, I finally realized that I could use my voice to educate, equip, and connect young adult caregivers who belong to marginalized communities. In 2015, I began sharing my story, slowly at first. I wrote pieces here and there about my experience as a caregiver. The responses have been overwhelmingly positive, with many people reaching out to share their own stories. This journey has even inspired me to launch a new platform catering specifically to marginalized young adult caregivers, Our Turn 2 Care.
“As caregivers, we can tend to become bogged down by responsibility. But sometimes sharing our stories can serve as a form of therapeutic self-care.” ”
Of course, no one can fully understand all that caregiving entails unless they experience it for themselves. But I certainly look forward to doing my part to raise awareness and hopefully make an impact where access and policy are concerned. As caregivers, we can tend to become bogged down by responsibility. But sometimes sharing our stories can serve as a form of therapeutic self-care. I know sharing my story has had a very cathartic effect for me. Maybe you decide to journal, maybe you vent to a friend, or maybe you put your story in front of policymakers and politicians to catalyze change.
Whatever type of ambassador you decide to become, don’t be afraid to let your voice be heard. The only way to affect positive and measurable change in your own life or in public spheres is to give real, tangible form to weighty statistics and anonymous surveys. If caregivers are unsung heros, then it’s up to us to change the tune.
Thanks again for sharing your story, Aisha. Our community is grateful for your bold willingness and relentless desire to help others especially young adult caregivers who are people of color or members of the LGBTQA community. Keep up the AWESOME work! We look forward to hearing from you again with an update on ALL THINGS Our Turn 2 Care. If you’d like to share your story, we’d LOVE to hear it. Send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.