Caregiver Story August 2018
In 1989, everything looked like it may get better. I had just remarried and soon would retire. Then my life changed. My mom started doing odd things, dressing odd, and cooking terrible. But when she couldn't find my house or my daughter's house we knew something was wrong.
One of my daughters and my brother were living with Mom, so it seemed good. First we took the car away, then removed the knobs from the stove. She asked repeatedly to see her mother. When they told her she was dead, she became very upset. She would frantically search the house for something to give to Disabled Vets. She would go through cabinets, and gave away dishes, glassware, or silverware. And then when she was talking on the phone with my first husband just like old friends, we knew she was no longer the woman we knew.
She couldn't stay alone and be trusted and safe, or even stay with family. As a caregiver you need to sleep and get more of a break than you think. My brother took her to a nursing home with locked memory care. The nursing home suggested no visiting for the first two weeks. On my first visit, I needed to console her and hold her in my arms because she said they (the nursing home) told her I was dead. She had me confused with her mom, but we do what is necessary.
My mom spent 13 more years at Deerbrook and the staff was good to her. I think she was happy; but what is happy in an Alzheimer's patient? A friend of mine says it's the long goodbye.
Four years after my mom passed, my husband was in a skiing accident. I didn't have time to mourn the loss of the man I loved. I had to roll up my sleeves and get to work and take care of the house, the driving, and the nursing. My husband changed from husband to patient. A patient who wanted to die. He had gone in an instant from an active person, to using a walker, then to a wheel chair, and eventually to an electric wheelchair.
I drove the handicap van with a rear lift to many (jobs) that I really never expected to do. He was 74 when he got hurt, and as he got older, he lost more and more mobility. I think sometimes he hated me because I was mobile, and he thought I was not doing things right. One day I was shoveling snow and I could hear him screaming that I wasn't doing it correctly. I was 12 years younger than him, but by 2010 I needed a hip replacement and then another and then a knee replacement. The physically challenging work took a toll.
In 2010, we hired a girl for four hours a day during the week. I started coming to the support group in 2011 and continue to come. I hope now I can give something back for what I received.
In 2011 a family crisis started that eventually ended my marriage, and in 2013 I never saw my husband again. He passed in 2015… free at last.
Judy with her mother, Effie Monroe
July with her husband, Arnie Juricic, and family