What a week! Prepping for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, a crazy work schedule, honey-dos, training with a new, good friend to begin our own Alzheimer’s support group…and much more. Sigh. 😉
Today will be a bit of a rerun if you follow me in Facebook, but it is a good kind of Cliff’s Notes of what my mom’s story is. This is a piece I wrote for our local news to posted about her:
Why do people Walk to End Alzheimer’s? There are many different stories out there. Here’s Mark Applegate’s reason, in his own words, to join us for the Walk on September 21 in Jordan Valley Park:https://www.facebook.com/pg/ethanforhetz/posts/?ref=page_internal
“My mom was diagnosed with “a minor type of dementia” nearly a decade ago while in her mid-60s. She was being treated for a mental health concern partially brought on by the loss of both of her parents and other life challenges. She “got much better” as time went on over the next few months and the “minor type of dementia” sort of fell off of our radar. I mean, she exercised, stopped smoking, ate right, played brain games on the computer and read. She was doing everything right. No big deal, right? So we moved on. Over time, in the busyness of life, I resorted to calling mom much more than I visited in person even though we only lived 50 miles apart (it is easier to fake illness on the phone than in person).
As time went on, mom started repeating herself quite a bit in stories and making mistakes telling about events that she should have known well. In the last two years my siblings and I investigated further because of a few things she said and because the stories got worse. One day my sister, jokingly, asked mom, “Do you remember my whole name?”. Mom said, “Sure I do! Come on…”. My sister, still smiling, said something like “OK…OK…tell me. Spit it out like you used to when I was in trouble.” She couldn’t. It was at that moment we realized that the “must just be getting older” problem was now something very different. She was officially diagnosed with dementia and then Alzheimer’s Disease, although it really could be called mixed dementia.
Mom has struggled and declined dramatically over the last 18 months. She is now in full-time memory care. She has played the piano for over 60 years by memory and has done so well. It has always been her happy place playing the piano and sometimes getting her kids to sing with her. You ask why I walk in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s? Of course her health and long-term prognosis are the most important reason we walk. She is stuck in a wheelchair and unable to move herself from room-to-room today. She was placed on hospice over the last couple months and they have helped her a lot manage life where she is with the disease today. Besides this obvious reason I walk, I walk because I want mom to be able to play piano again. I love to see her smile and play her cares away like she used to. Things could be terrible, but somehow when mom was playing all was going to be OK.”
— Mark Applegate
In order to complete this as a Cliff’s Notes, I should tell you, in case you missed it, that the Sweet 17 are the 17 sweet ladies with whom mom shared a memory unit for the first 9 months she wasthere. The first six months was very hard, as you will see in the early posts, but she has progressed now to the point that she is no longer a flight risk, so she lives with the general population. Of the original Sweet 17, less than half are still living and there are sweet replacements for the ones we lost. I still visit them some visits and they still “remember me” or at least smile when I arrive. They are some of the most precious women in my world.
This is truly a terrible disease that needs to be stopped in its tracks! Our walk this weekend and the one next…and all of yours have a part in making that happen!
Update: Mom had a pretty typical day yesterday again. She is still happy within her cocoon, awaiting gaining her wings and flying to the Savior’s arms.