Alzheimers
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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Alzheimers

My mother has Alzheimer's.  What an illogical disease!  I am not sure if I could explain to anyone the trauma that happens to family members of someone that has the disease. (No, I am not being selfish, I am also acknowledging the trauma it has on my mother)  I always thought that when one has Alzheimer's, they would just  forget people or what they did that day.    It is so much more than that!
My mother was always a hard woman and her only drive in life was to make more money.  She was also a hoarder (possession and money hoarding).  She lived in a run down house in a small run down west Texas town.  When my father passed away in 1988, they had a roadside business that fixed truck flats (Big Diesel Trucks) and my mother had worked side by side with him.  They also had several tow trucks.  Mother continued to operate the business'  upon his death and actually made more money than he did. Of course it may be she didn't ever spend any.   She had employees that she drove into the ground until they left her. Only one employee stayed with her, Paul.  I believe he had been kicked around by his family and he found a purpose and had someone that needed him.  They worked 24/7 and I believe neither had a personal life.  I lived in California when my father passed away and for the next 10 years after that. So I saw her only about once a year when we returned on vacation and she only came to see us once or twice.  She said she couldn't be away from the business very long (I believe now that missing a customer to her was like one of us losing $100 plus).  She never watched TV except the weather and totally enclosed herself in this bubble. She really didn't socialize in this small town even though she knew all 50-55 people that lived there for the last 25 years.  I called and sometimes she was too busy to talk which I thought was good that she was staying busy.  She brought run down buildings and continued to fill them with items that  she obtained either from donations from garage sells and from items that people would leave in vehicles she bought when their cars broke down and they didn't have the money to repair them. I knew her house was filled but she had so many options to move things out prior to our arrival, we did not realize the extent of the hoarding.
She never trusted anyone so we didn't have power of attorney when she became unable to deal with her finances or to take care of herself.  Thank goodness, the county seat is also a small town and everyone knew of her disability and also she was the victim of a con man that she had hired (another story another time)  So we obtain a Guardianship over her and her estate.   My sweet Fellow and I started the monument tasks of locating and securing her assets.  Since she was not happy with me (Alzheimer's patients can be very abusive, verbal and physical), we moved her into her house in town.  This home that she owned was clean, not cluttered and was close to hospitals, doctors and an awesome group of home caregivers.  We hired them to stay with her 24/7 to cook, clean and drive her to the stores and for companionship.  We had taken her to a neurologist, who said she didn't need to be cooking, driving, or making business decisions so we knew 24/7 care was needed.  My Fellow and I had full time jobs here (5 hours away) so we traveled back and forth.  We attended every doctors appointment with her and every holiday. We were even able to fly with her to her birthplace in Arkansas for her birthday.  No, it wasn't easy, it was the hardest, roughest and most stressful time in my life. I started smoking again and since I handle stress by throwing up, I promptly lost 13 lbs but with my Fellow by my side we survived.  We had to make the decision to move her into a Alzheimer's Care Facility after a year had gone by.  We visited several facilities in this area and in August we put her in our car and started the stressful 5 hour drive and left her at the facility.   Neither of us slept that night, overcome with guilt, apprehension and exhaustion.   She was very angry for the next two weeks but as the doctor predicted, she forgot she had lived anywhere else by that time.  Now I know it is a better place for her, there are other patients there and the staff are trained to keep the residents busy.  She is 15 minutes from us and we can visit anytime. Don't get me wrong, it is still very stressful and I am still on a emotional roller coaster ride.  I know she is being taken care of very well but I never know how the visit will go upon my arrival.  I have always heard the old saying " throw your hat in the door and if no one shots it, then its safe to go in"   except after my hat gets shot, I still have to go in.

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