Daughter, Mom, Teacher, & Caregiver
Age: Early 60s
Care Role: Caring from afar at first, then locally.
Age: Passed away in early 80s
Progression: Moved to assisted living after diagnosis. Passed away 8 years after diagnosis.
My mother passed away 11 months ago. Her journey through Alzheimers-- and my journey with her - was not an easy one. It was complicated by her relationship, personalities and distance. My mother was very independent. She divorced when I was 10. So now she was 78. She lived by herself. She was very capable. She was doing loopy things. She drove to the neighbors and asked if she had left her phone there, but she hadn’t been there in two weeks. They followed her home and called me. Other people were reaching out. They told my mom they wanted my address or number to send me a Christmas card - and they said they’d noticed something was wrong but no one took the next step.
Getting a Diagnosis
It was a tough road to get the final diagnosis. I couldn't get a diagnosis because you have to have a specialist. My mother would cancel the appointment. She was covering for herself for years.
We’d make the appointment. I’d take the 8 hour drive to go stay with her for a few days and she’d cancel the appointment. I was very fortunate, she walked into a hospital one day. She knew something was wrong. They did a quick evaluation. She was polite and friendly and she knew who the President was and what day of the week it was but if you asked her where she shopped three hours ago, she couldn't tell you. The next day she showed up at her old doctor’s office. She had changed doctors years before but she said “well, I was here yesterday.” Because of agitation and confusion they had an ambulance take her to a hospital. They wanted to discharge her but I couldn't take her yet. I could only make the drive and take the time off from work at certain times.
Legal and Financial Planning
My mother had her will rewritten during that time. None of us were made Power of Attorney. She was changing her will every two years.
My mother was resistant to ending driving but once she ended up in the hospital, she ended up with a diagnosis and then a letter saying she couldn't drive and then she was moved to a place where she couldn't drive. So, driving just went away as a concern. I was fortunate.
I knew she could not live with me and I am an only child. I wanted her to be in a care facility close to me. She had to be in a facility for her safety. She’s the person who would have gotten lost in the woods or made the wrong turn. Once she was in the facility she would say “I have to walk to the post office, it's just two blocks.” She had never lived just down the road from a post office.
I needed her in a place where she was safe. I couldn’t worry if she was wandering.