A New Season in life Thanks to Alzheimer’s Disease

 

Alzheimer’s Disease has made an appearance in my family.

Can you relate? It seems everywhere I turn I’m running into somebody who has a loved one with memory challenges such as Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia. (By the way, in about 80% of dementia cases the culprit is Alzheimer’s Disease)  I’m not talking about forgetting what you went to the pantry to get. I’m talking about suggesting it may be time to retire when you’ve already been retired for twenty years or worrying about why you can’t find your brother who has been dead for eight years or introducing your wife as your uncle.

How A checking overdraft changed everything.

Have you ever been overdrawn in your checkbook? For many people an overdrawn checkbook might be annoying but it wouldn’t be a tale tell sign that someone has mental health issues. But with my mom it was a huge red flag. She had been a bookkeeper before she retired and she ALWAYS balanced to the penny.  

I’ll never forget the day Mom called to tell me the bank had called to tell her that her account was overdrawn. She was beside herself. Wondering where she made a mistake. Well, it was a number of mistakes that created a terrifying moment for my mom. I told my parents to come over and I would take them to the bank to get it all figured out. That was when the second red flag went up.

When it rains it pours.

I was already aware that my dad was on medication for dementia. He had shown mild signs for years and I was also aware that he was declining. Mom and I had shared many conversations about this. But this day would reveal how much decline had taken place. I waited for my parents to arrive so we could deal with the bank and after quite a long spell I got a phone call. My parents were lost.  They were an hour away in the opposite direction of my house.  I ended up staying on the phone with them for the next hour talking them through what they needed to do to get to my house. A place they had once lived next door to for seventeen years.

 

Enter my new normal.

My new normal is a roller coaster ride of experiences.

  • First,  I have become the legal guardian of person for my parents. It has been the best route to helping my parents. So many things needed attention like my dad driving a car (this was scary) or actually NOT driving a car.  Keeping my parents from running through the money they had been so diligent to save for final years. So many choices. 
  • Second, I opted to have a third party lawyer to be made guardian of their estate so I didn’t have to deal with their finances. This was a great decision.
  • Next came finding a safe place for my parents to live. With eight people still living in our house and stairs everywhere (we have a three story house) bringing them here hasn’t seemed like the safest choice. We tried moving my parents from the independent senior living residence they were in to an assisted living community that could help them remember to take medications and hopefully, keep my dad from wandering off for hours at a time and be there to steady my mom.

The winds pick up steam.

Unfortunately, the assisted living didn’t work for my dad because they weren’t staffed to be able to care for someone with Alzheimer’s. He had a wander guard to alert them when he was trying to leave and the alarm was going off – constantly. So, my dad was moved to a memory care assisted living. This was hard on Mom, who missed him terribly. 

The storm keeps increasing.

After a couple of weeks it was clear my mom was also showing increased signs of dementia. We decided to move her into the memory care unit as well so they could be together, but before we could make the move, Mom had a major fall that landed her in the hospital.  To make an already long story not as long as I could make it – believe me, it’s so much longer – both Mom and Dad are finally under the same roof, although in different halls and varying levels of care.

Is the storm passing?

Now, I’ve finally found a few moments to begin sharing my journey. I’m still working with my son Stefan at East Stream Studio (You can read more about us here) but it has taken some juggling managing my parents care, having meaningful visits with them, keeping up with my teenagers, helping one figure out college, staying diligent with East Stream Studio’s needs, supporting my husband as he works for his family in an extremely high stress job… That’s just the beginning. There clearly are not enough of me to go around. But I am settling in to a season of calm. The storm isn’t passing quite yet but I have found shelter within the people who surround me.

Join my journey.

I believe it is important to bring people along on how Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are affecting our family. And to tell about the good, the bad and the ugly. But mostly to tell you that I have never been more stretched to my limits and yet so powerfully aware of God’s presence and comfort. And I have grown more as a human being in the past year than I feel I had my entire life before Alzheimer’s Disease became a part of our family. And that is indeed what we are. A family. 

So, I will be continuing to my ramblings about making the most of life as a middle-aged woman that works in the entertainment industry. And whipping up yummy recipes like homemade biscuits. And talking about  being a wife, mom, and friend, about loving Jesus and now about taking care of my precious parents. 

If you are walking through the halls of Alzheimer’s or dementia let me know.

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We can all benefit from each other’s stories.

Follow me on instagram  @robinliner09. I have discovered a caring community of people from all over the world who are loving their way through the challenges of memory loss on instagram. 

You are not alone,

Robin

 

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