Hi, I'm Jen. Thanks for visiting my website. I hope that in sharing my story that you can find some relatable bits to carry you along. Find a support group or a friend and let them wrap their arms around you.
Alzheimer's is a daunting disease and I believe it is The New Great Depression. My paternal grandmother died in 1999 at the age of 92 from Alzheimer's Disease. It was my first experience with the disease and I admit, I did not want to recognize it for what it was. Dec 10 of 2018, I lost my sweet mom to Alzheimer's.
Beginning in 2010, we noticed small changes with my mom's short-term memory; she was 73. As it progressed into 2012, I approached my family and with mom's cooperation, she was tested by a Psychologist (PhD), which included an MRI of the brain. She was diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI). In February of 2014, we requested a second test because we noticed significant changes, including short-tempered behavior, a lack of socializing, misplacing common items, and confusion with directions. That test still reflected MCI but, "with a significant drop in short-term memory, reflecting dementia." We were told to continue with her primary care check-ups and also referred to a neurologist to closely follow her progression. By 2015, her diagnosis was confirmed as Alzheimer's and the neurologist started her on Aricept (donepezil) and also Namenda (memantine). We feel confident that between both the early detection of MCI and starting her on the medications significantly slowed the symptoms.
In the beginning, my father was her primary caregiver but by January 2016, I changed my work schedule taking one workday a week so that I could help with doctors appointments, etc. By March 2017 I went part-time taking two days a week to help them at home more. As mom's Alzheimer's progressed, dad hired a part-time person to help in-between my days. By mid-April 2018, my brother (Marty) and his wife began helping and we started day-rotations on the weekends. Mom's health overall was great but she experienced many episodes of neuropathy in her legs and also Vasovagal Syncope which caused her to pass out. We were able to have home health assigned two different times for Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Nursing assessments to help maintain her baseline strength and mobility. 2018 was a spiral of events with seven Vasovagal episodes, the worst and final in October. Within a week of the episode, she was bed-bound. On November 16th, hospice informed us that her Alzheimer's was closing in and gave us 4-6 months; however, she rapidly declined and we rallied by her side over the next several weeks. On December 10th, she went to her heavenly home six days after celebrating her 81st birthday.
I remember during mom's first testing period, the psychologist met with me and my two brothers to answer our questions on coping with mom's diagnosis. He helped us to realize that we "live in her world." That was the best advice anyone ever gave us! It takes practices at times, not to react. So remember, be patient and kind to your loved one in this life of Alzheimer's. Be patient with yourself! Most of all, when you see those moments of clarity, savor that gift.
I pray for you all, for strength and for comfort in the Lord's promises. "This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary." Hebrews 6:19