Originally Published: March 15, 2017 6 a.m.
Dear Annie: My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years ago. In the beginning, it was just small stuff, such as forgetting that she had told the same story to us five times or using her lipstick as eyeliner. About a year ago, it got really bad. My dad told me that she would get up in the middle of the night and take out the car. One night, around 3 in the morning, he got a call from a gas station. The attendant said that there was a lady there who didn’t know where she was.
After the middle-of-the-night scare, my father decided it was time to put her under professional care. We researched all the facilities and found the best one. Though it is a great deal of money for us, the care the facility provides seems top-notch.
The other night, my dad and I took my mom out to dinner and then went back to the home where she is staying. She sang nursery songs the whole ride back from the restaurant and seemed in good spirits. When we were saying goodbye (not sure she remembered who I was), she began to cry. She didn’t understand why she couldn’t go home with my dad. She became very upset and said, “But he is my husband. I love him. I want to sleep next to him.” My dad was holding back tears and said very calmly, “No, this is your home now. You have to go to your room.” The nurses told my dad and me to leave and said they would take care of her. It was so sad to watch. Were the nurses right, or should we have taken her back with us? — Daughter in Distress
Dear Daughter: Alzheimer’s is a horrible disease, not only for the person diagnosed with it but also for all his or her loved ones. It takes no prisoners and leaves everyone around wounded; there is no doubt about that. I’m so sorry you’re going through this. It sounds as if you’ve found a reputable care facility for your mom, and that’s great. Talk to her doctor and ask him or her whether there are any techniques you and your dad could use to help soothe your mom when she’s distressed. You might also talk to your insurance provider about home health care options.
Dear Annie: I’m sure you’ve been contacted by others by now, but another resource for those who may want to honor someone who died from Alzheimer’s disease is to join a local Walk to End Alzheimer’s if one is offered in their community. More information is available at alz.org. I walk each year, as both of my parents have dementia. Please share this important information with your readers. — Susan B.
Dear Susan: Thank you for writing. An estimated 5.4 million Americans suffer from the disease. Visit the Alzheimer’s Association website for more information about the disease and what you can do to help make a difference in the lives of those affected.
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