PATRICIA’S STORY: The uninvited guest

I always knew I would care for my mother in her senior years. She would be moving into my home. Moving day arrived and, much to my surprise, it did not go smoothly. My happiness at finally being able to look after her was dashed. The move plans had been wonderful, but on moving day, mother somehow did not understand what was happening, and she became very irritable and upset. What I did not realize at the time was that she had brought along an uninvited guest: Alzheimer disease.

Never the same

My days would never be the same. I was face-to-face with something I did not understand. Why was she asking me the same questions over and over? Why did she keep asking me to call our dad, who had been dead for 15 years? I watched her fold and refold clothes out of the closet. One day she sat in her favourite chair waiting for someone to take her home to Ireland. I kept trying to get through to her. Each day became another day of trial and error. One day, mother fell in my garden. Still ignorant of her disease, I allowed her to put off going to the hospital until several days later. The doctor I met with at the hospital told me she had a broken pelvis and explained why she had not been able to walk. I then met with a hospital assessment team, who sensed mother had more than physical health concerns. Their diagnosis confirmed her illness: Alzheimer disease.

Words of encouragement

Thankfully, someone introduced me to the local Alzheimer Society. If there are angels on this earth, they are the people at the Alzheimer Society. Whenever I called, however I was feeling (crying or shouting, angry or calm), they listened. They offered words of encouragement and taught me about this disease. It has been five years since my mother passed on. Ever since her death, I have volunteered for the Alzheimer Society, learning all I could about this devastating disease in order to give back to someone else what I was so unconditionally given.

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