Carolyn is an 85-year-old retired school teacher living independently in Houston, Texas. She is beginning to need assistance managing her affairs and caring for herself. She’s having problems with bathing, dressing, cooking, getting to doctor appointments, doing her shopping and paying her bills. Her only child, Ralph, lives in Dayton, Ohio. He worries about his mother constantly and wishes he lived closer so he could help her out. He knows he needs to take action; he just doesn’t know what to do.
Martha is another 85-year-old whose needs are different from those of Carolyn. Martha’s memory and mental functioning are declining at an alarming rate, and she’s received a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s. It’s obvious that she isn’t safe living on her own. Her daughter, Susan, who lives nearby, hired a home-care company to help care for her mother. But Martha hated the arrangement and fired the caregiver the company had sent.Continue reading →
The first groundbreaking Move for Minds event brought together leading brain experts from around the country both to dispel the myths that there is nothing a person can do to prevent Alzheimer’s, and to highlight just how much can be done to prevent, or slow, memory loss and the disease in many cases. Healthy lifestyle choices, starting from a young age, can make a big difference. Even adjusting lifestyle at older ages can still have a positive impact on fighting the disease.
Unclaimed Baggage is our personal story about Martha, our mother, and her journey through life and ultimately through Alzheimer’s disease. Our account is told in snippets of anecdotes from our mother’s perspective as well as other family members’ perspectives.
As we begin our narrative, we are driving our mother to the Assisted Living Facility that we collectively agreed was where she needed to be. Continue reading →
Last night I lit a Yahrzeit candle for my father, who’s been gone for two years. And I decided, at the last second, that rather than sing a traditional prayer, I’d just sing a few lines from one of his favorite Broadway tunes. It made me smile in a moment that was otherwise sad.
Like many, my father’s struggle with Alzheimer’s was a long and gradual one, but that did not make it easier for him, and it didn’t make it easier for all of the people who loved him. We had to say goodbye over and over as parts of who he had been vanished like color from a beloved garment, never to be restored. Continue reading →
Love in the senior years: A true inspiration to me. My parents are married over sixty years as of this writing. Sixty years of ups and downs, good health and bad, happiness and sadness. But one thing remains: a steadfast love. It is this love that inspired me to write; theirs, and another couple: my husband’s elderly aunt and uncle. Continue reading →
My mother, Vera, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in October of 2006. That was the day my world changed – forever. I will never forget (or is that statement actually true?) the day I received the phone call. “Mrs. Howell, I am calling to tell you your mother has dementia.” The doctor lacked bedside manner, and he assured me he could call in medications that would make Momma better. Continue reading →
My parents raised four children in a small community located near Charlotte, NC where they were active in social and church affairs. Jim coached Little League and Rusty directed the polling place in our precinct. My siblings and I grew up, went to school, and made life-long friends there. But then, gradually, negotiating the complexities of social interactions became more difficult for Mom and Dad and they withdrew from the activities they once enjoyed. Continue reading →
I grew up in in the mountains of New Mexico in a roadside attraction built by my father.
With the exception of, “I love you,” I have probably spoken this one sentence more than any other. I defined myself as the daughter of Ross Ward, the man who created Tinkertown Museum.
I did not mean to write a book. After my father died from complications of early onset Alzheimer’s disease, I sat down with my journals to try to understand what had happened to me and to my family in a five-year period that began just before I turned thirty. Continue reading →
It can get lonely carrying on with this job that most people think I must be a “little strange” to be doing. “You’re a hospice chaplain? Isn’t that morbid to be doing that?” Someone felt my going so far as to write a book about it was downright peculiar and distasteful. But with my front-row seat at Act Three Scene Three of people’s lives, I keep getting intimate glimpses of what hospice patients are pondering, remembering, laughing Continue reading →