MOTHER'S ALZHEIMER'S STORY
ALOHA DEAR KALOKA FAMILY,
Alzheimer’s is a catastrophic disease! To lose one’s mind, who you are and all the memories of one’s life, there is simply no words to describe that loss! According to the Alzheimer’s Association facts and figures, “Of the estimated 5.5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s dementia in 2017, an estimated 5.3 million are age 65 and older and approximately 200,000 individuals are under age 65 and have younger-onset Alzheimer’s. One in 10 people, age 65 and older (10%) has Alzheimer’s dementia. Since 2000, deaths from Alzheimer’s disease have increased by 89%. Americans provided an estimated 18.2 billion hours of unpaid care for those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias, valued at more than $230 Billion.”
My mother’s dad had Alzheimer’s disease. Back in the ‘60’s, if you “lost your mind”, you were deemed senile. My grandma eventually had to place grandpa in a Veterans home because of the constant care that he required. Mother’s 3 sisters also lost their brave fight with Alzheimer’s too.
I knew something was wrong with mother starting in 2007. In particular, phone conversations were always the same. She would initially do all the talking and it was always the same stories. First, what kind of weather their city was having, then talks of all the different colored planes that she had seen while sitting on the back-porch swing. (Their house was in a landing pattern.) Last but not least, about all the school children that she had watched play on the school playground that was across their back fence. When I would ask a question about any other subject she would say, “Well, here is you father, he wants to talk to you.” “LOVE YOU,” I would say as she handed the phone to him. Then I would get the real story. Mother had stopped food shopping, cooking, cleaning and doing the laundry. She wanted father to take her out to eat every meal, every day. She had taught Home Economics since graduating college and was a phenomenal baker and cook! She LOVED to cook! Her excuse was that she had cooked the first 48 years of marriage so now it was fathers turn to cook or go out to eat! All father knew how to cook was opening a can of sardines and making rice in the rice cooker! I knew that she had forgotten how to cook and it broke my heart. Father said if she tried to cook something she would leave the oven on and forget about the food, burning it and the pyrex dish that would then be thrown away or she would leave a pot of food on a burner and forgot it was there. She almost started a kitchen fire on 2 separate occasions. Father kept a fire extinguisher close by at all times!
He said mother was also getting lost while driving alone and not able to find her way home. I told him that he needed to sell the house and both come and live with my husband and I. His health was now declining having to do all of his chores and all of mothers’ too. He said mother was in denial and did not think anything was wrong with her mind and that she would get mad and not talk to him when he brought it up.
TO BE CONTINUED……