Posted on: September 15, 2014 | 0 Comments |
Note: In 2007, Jamie Wilson Headley (founder and CEO of Dementia Services Group) began the complicated process of helping her once-independent mother adjust to life with dementia.
These are the challenges that one woman faced, but although Jamie’s Journey is deeply personal, it is also universal. We hope that her trials and triumphs will shed light on the emotional and logistical issues that come with caring someone with dementia.
The doctors decided to keep Mom at the hospital to go through rehab to get her strength back. During that time she underwent more testing and although she was never given a firm diagnosis for her symptoms we were told she should probably not live alone any longer. I remember thinking “Seriously? How is this going to work? What does that really mean? How sick is she? This is going to get better, right?”
My Mom had lived alone for most of my adult life and she liked it that way. She was the most independent person I had ever met. I couldn’t even imagine how we were going to convince her to make these changes. Luckily, she felt lousy enough and she was scared enough that she didn’t really want to be alone. She knew her memory was slipping, just as she had told me a month before, so she was open to options. I found out she had stopped going to work (she had been working part time as a consultant at her old job) because she kept losing her train of thought and had gotten lost driving home from work one day. She wasn’t required to keep a set schedule so no one had really pushed back at the office. I also realized she hadn’t paid several bills and she had accidentally paid one twice. I knew things were going to have to change drastically and that this was about more than just not living alone. It all seemed so surreal. Mom had never been sick before. She was not on any medications, she didn’t have any of the typical illnesses many people in their 70’s deal with. She hadn’t even had the flu in 20 years.
Luckily, She was willing to give up driving and I began researching home health care. We tried home care for a couple of weeks but it felt intrusive having someone in the condo with her. So Mom agreed to move around the corner to an assisted living facility that a friend of hers was living at. The facility was beautiful and Mom settled in pretty well. She was used to moving and she was a survivor.
It seemed like we were in a good space for the space we were in. Mom was accepting the changes in her life with grace and dignity, we had found her a nice place to live and we were pursuing the answers to her medical issues. Never once did I consider that my Mom had Alzheimer’s Disease and never did I have any clue of the troubles to come.