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Alzheimer's: My Personal Family Journey

I've been thinking about my mom a lot lately. She died in 1995. I was living in Cleveland, Ohio at the time, working at a large hospice as a bereavement counselor. One sister was living in Phoenix and my other sister and brother were living close to me in Cleveland . We got together often with my parents. Long into their marriage my mom and dad would go out for dinner or ice cream and walk together holding hands. They were devoted to each other.

My mom was always active. She played tennis and enjoyed a weekly game of mahjong with friends. She also enjoyed playing golf. She was a petite woman and loved fashion and clothes. She worked part time at a large department store in one of the designer departments. Unbeknownst to me cognitive changes and behaviors were taking place. My dad, either frightened or protective, did not tell us siblings what was happening.

At her work my mother had difficulty ringing up sales on the computer system or giving back change to a customer after a cash purchase sale. She began to call in sick and then decided to quit. She often could not find where she parked her car at the mall and would panic. She lost pieces of jewelry, rings, bracelets that my dad bought her over the years. She lost her diamond wedding band. We were kept in the dark about her behavior changes. It was not until she started asking the same questions over and over in a short time span that we noticed a big cognitive change and confronted our father. We were heartbroken. My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease suffering from a moderate decline. She could feed herself, dress herself and recognize all family members. She could not cook, did not know how to use the oven, choose her own clothes, or make a phone call.

As a bereavement counselor working with terminally ill people and their families I knew what I would be facing with the decline of my mom. But in the family, dealing with my mom's illness and my dad, I was not a licensed professional. I was a daughter, a sister, and a caregiver. I needed support. Support, information and education are so important and vital in caring for a loved one with Alzheimer's or dementia.

As a Certified Dementia Practitioner (CDP) I understand what families are going through, both personally and professionally. If you need assistance or care, or have questions please feel free to reach out to me. Comforcare has a wonderful DementiaWise program to help loved ones stay home with excellent care.

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