Two years after my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, I had moved her into a really nice independent facility. Anyone living in this place had to be self sufficient and able to take care of themselves. They did offer services likes meals, a daily check to make sure your loved one was ok, but that was about it.
I had put a lot of processes in place for my Mom to follow that I thought would help her and they did for awhile. One day my friend (who is now my husband) and I were going to pick her up and take her out to lunch. I called her to let her know we were coming. My friend said that he would go in and get her and bring her out to the car. When he knocked on the door, she opened it butt naked with just her purse draped over her shoulder. She proceeded to exit her apartment and walk down the hallway. He was incredulous and said “I can’t unsee that”. He corralled her back to her apartment but she didn’t understand that she was underdressed for the occasion. He called me quickly and requested that I come in and handle the situation and he needed to recover from what had just transpired. We both had quite a giggle about it and we were mortified for her. She would have died of embarrassment if she knew what she had done.
I realized then that we were close to her not being able to live independently for much longer. She still was able to do it for several more months but with more guidance from me. I had to take over the administration of my Mom’s medications (going there three times a day to administer them and give her the insulin she needed). I also hired a visiting caregiver organization to come and check on her more often, as well as to take her outside of her apartment to get her some socialization.
I knew Alzheimer’s would take away her memories, but I didn’t realize it would take away her ability to know how to do the simplest of things that she has done all of her life like put on her clothes. Boy, was I in for a rude awakening over the next several years about how this disease would progress and rob her of her ability to do almost anything.
Quite frankly, this just terrifies me because I know this will happen to be over the next several years. My body will be functioning but my mind won’t be. What a cruel despicable disease. I saw my Mom deteriorate before my eyes, and she eventually became childlike and at the end almost like an infant. Not a dignified way for anyone to die. It also took a significant toll on me as her caregiver, and my immediate family members who watched her die every day.
We have to find a cure. If a cure is not found, we have to find a way in the United States to allow someone with cognitive diseases to die with dignity if they so choose (if they make the decision while they are cognizant). We treat animals better than people in this country.
Mom, I apologize for sharing your story but it is an important story about a beautiful woman who I loved tremendously who was stricken by an incurable disease with and no effective treatments. How many more loved ones do we have to lose?