Let’s go back to when we started noticing things that we all thought were funny. Yes, that’s where to start; back when we would find her keys in the refrigerator, an item that she misplaced and was looking for was in an old purse stuck in the back of the closet. That day she may have driven 3 or 4 blocks out of her way and didn’t know why. She forgot to pay bills so I did that and Lynn and I started doing her shopping
Then things got worse. There were two incidents that actually scared us. One was that she was going to a friend’s house that was close to mine. I had no idea that she was out my way. The nursery at the corner called me and said that my mother drove in a ditch in front of the nursery. Being concerned, I told them I would be right over to get her. They told me the forklift got her out and she seemed dazed. I asked to speak to her and they told me that she’s not there, she was gone. NO…NO…NO I thought to myself why did you let her leave I wanted to say but didn’t. Instead, I got in my car and went looking for her myself. When I couldn’t see her on any road, I went home and started calling her on the phone. It took her three hours for her to get home. We only lived 30 minutes to her house.
The second incident put her in far more danger than the first one. She went to NH to visit her sister and spread dad’s ashes at his former college. I got a call at midnight from my frantic aunt Margie in NH and she told me my mom had not gotten there yet but had called. My aunt Margie further told me that when she had called and didn’t know where for sure. My aunt told her to ask someone and then mom said that she was in some town on the shoreline which was 200 miles out of the way. Mom said that she was going to stay at the B&B she was at and would drive to her house in the morning. Mom got there the next day after noon. She had been a long way from Alstead.
Definitely she needed to know that something was wrong and it was time to find out what. Lynn found an expert in geriatrics who was teaching classes in Alzheimer’s and Dementia at the University of Colorado which is where mom went for all her doctors. He asked if we could hang around for part of his lecture so he could show an example of an Alzheimer’s patient. My sister and I agreed. When he introduced her, he mentioned a couple of symptoms. Did he have to point out that she looked a little lost and scared?
After all this, my brother had us all over for a picnic. He asked my mom to go get the broom for him. She got to the top of the stairs and began to get that lost look on her face. Meanwhile, I went upstairs to get something for my brother and my mother was standing in the middle of the small hallway at the entrance muttering that she was afraid to ask Ronny what she was supposed to get. I yelled down at him to find out what mom was supposed to get. Ronny said impatiently that he already told her 3 times a broom and I pointed to where it was. In the meantime I had gone and got what Ronny wanted. So here our mother was handing Ronny a bag for trash. Ronny told me that she was deliberately trying to make him crazy. I tried to tell him it was the Alzheimer’s and she couldn’t help her forgetfulness and wasn’t trying to make him crazy. He said that Lynn and I had to move her out of his house and that he couldn’t take anymore of her pretending. I tried to explain that she can’t help that she forgets. It’s not a game or trying to make you nuts, but if you really want her out, we will move her.
Lynn and I started looking for a place for her to live and I (for lack of anyone wanting the job) got to be her POA. Lynn found one right away which was perfect for her. It was a one bedroom Seniors only apartment building. The manager told us straight up that this was not assisted living and there’s not always someone there so she has to get things done herself and if she gets a lot worse, she will need assisted living arrangements. So the long road begins. In 1999 Bill and I decided to move to Missouri. Somewhere quiet, settle down there.
Each and every day I’d go spend 4 -5 hours a day with her. We’d read, put puzzles together, and talked. Talk we did. I got to know mom as an adult instead of a mother. It was neat getting to know her that way. She had been on two Alzheimer’s pills that were available at that time. I fell in 2008 and broke my shoulder. So it begins … mom has Alzheimer’s and by now Bill had been diagnosed with dementia and the bills …