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Harry's Dad Editorial Responses

These are just some of the responses we received from our Editorial of 01/17/08 - Harry's Dad

My wife, Cheryl and I had growing concerns over her mother, who began exhibiting Alzheimer's symptoms probably 6-7 years ago, but lived alone, still drove, but didn't recognize that she was having problems herself.  "You know how you forget things as you get older", she said with a laugh.

Knowing that her dementia was getting worse, we started helping her with small things, which she didn't recognize as help for her condition.  Shopping, buying food, etc.  The problem was, that as a widow living alone, she wouldn't take her Aricept, vitamins or eat properly.  So just took over even more routine chores for her.

The last couple years, we noticed the dogs weren't fed as we thought they should, she wasn't as clean and neat as she had been, and her house wasn't getting cleaned at all.  We didn't want to take away her independence until it became a possible threat to her own safety.  That became evident when she would go to pick up her grandchildren from school and not show up.  Then, forget she was to go pick them up at all.  After 2 times across several weeks, we took her car away.

She fought, cussed (out of character), but didn't win.  In a few weeks to a month, it was if she always didn't have a car, and she walked to the store.

To "help" her, we stopped by and checked on her and her dogs several times a week.  We called every day, picked her up for dinner twice a week, which we had done for years anyways, and made sure she had food for herself and the dogs.  We just started doing these things, which became part of her routine and an increasing part of ours.  Soon, we realized that she wasn't remembering what we told her to do daily.

We noticed things getting even worse, like getting lost on her walks to the store.  We'd get calls from letter carriers and stores she'd go into and ask for directions.  We found out later that latter carriers in the area watched out for her, as they knew who she was and that she'd get lost and they'd drive her back.  They just didn't know how bad she became.  She had and still has ways of excusing her behavior, and unless you know her condition, she can talk her way through issues.

After the last time she got lost on a walk, we interviewed several facilities and had her admitted to one within a few weeks.  That was January 2007.  It's been a year, and within the first few months, we noticed even more of a decline in her memory.  We have her on Namenda and Aricept, and hope they will keep her decline slowed more than she was not on them.

We still help her a lot.  We pick her up for dinner and lunch a couple times a week, and have her help us around the house with simple chores to keep her connected.  We find that as time passes, she gets confused and "lost" sooner after picking her up from the facility.  We know that our picking her up might not last too much longer or the time away will be an hour or less rather than a few hours.

We've now decided that since she likes games, we will visit her and play games in her recreation area of the facility.  They are very caring, loving caregivers and have wonderful programs at all levels, even for the higher memory issue residents.  Our goal is to help her stay connected with her memories, friends and family members as long as possible, even though we see a decline monthly now.


As a baby boomer who is also part of the Sandwich Generation, it can be difficult to make sure your elder relatives are properly cared for.  I have found that moving into my Mom's house was the best decision for me and my daughter, not to mention my Mom.  Our family knows there is someone there on a daily basis to make sure everything is okay.  I also found that my Mom has just blossomed since we invaded her home.  She has a reason for being, a reason to cook, and a reason to do so many things that she wouldn't be doing if me and my daughter weren't there.

 We think about what we can do to help our loved ones, but perhaps the best thing we can do is give up a few years of our lives to give back to those who cared for us for most of their lives.  The experience really isn't that bad.


I know the frustrations of parenting my cousin rather than partnering with her.  Bathing has been a very challenging area for her since she even refused to change her clothes for days.  Feeling like I had little choice, I had to "trick" her into taking a bath.  after giving her a nice lunch, I guided her on the back porch.  there several family members proceeded to bathe her while she was fully clothed.  We even washed her hair several times because it was extremely dirty.  I don't even want to tell you what the color of the water was.  Anyway, although she was quite reluctant to be cleansed, she soon calmed down after we got her to participate in the process by washing her private areas.  my motto---JUST ONE DAY AT A TIME !






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