Brandee Evans plays the lead character Mercedes on the Starz show “P-Valley” and recently wrapped filming on the flick “B-Boy Blues.”
Yet the 33-year-old Evans has another role in life besides being a rising star in Hollywood: She’s a caregiver to her mother, who is living with Alzheimer’s disease.
“It’s hard, but it’s also beautiful because I know her mind is in there,” said Evans, a Memphis native.
Alzheimer’s is an irreversible neurodegenerative disease that causes memory loss, confusion, and eventually loss of other mental and physical abilities, such as communicating and walking.
When Evans’s mother was diagnosed with the disease, which is the most common form of dementia, she decided to heal past wounds surrounding their relationship.
“All I needed to clear the air was for her to forgive me and for me to forgive her for anything that may have hurt us in the past,” Evans said, “and to live in this present moment and just love each other.”
Doing so helped Evans prepare for the challenges ahead, which has required creativity, patience, and a sense of humor.
“You gotta laugh to keep from crying,” Evans said.
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, Evans was a caregiver on her own, but now, she knows the importance of asking for help — which is a piece of advice she’d offer other caregivers.
“I think my life would’ve been less stressful the first two years of caring for my mom,” she said. “I just felt like I had to do it myself, but I almost broke down.”
Taking time for self-care, like eating a healthy, mostly plant-based diet, exercising, and designating alone time has also been helpful for Evans, both in helping her offset her own risk for the disease, and to help her be an effective caregiver.
“I’m having moments where I embrace every moment because you don’t know,” Evans said.
Self-care sometimes feels “selfish,” but Evans knows firsthand how crucial it is, not only for her own health, but also for her mother. “We cannot be good for them if we can’t be good to ourselves,” she said.