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Host: Scott LaMar

One family's Alzheimer's story by Scott LaMar

Written by Scott LaMar, Smart Talk Host/Executive Producer | Jun 24, 2013 3:01 PM
Mom 1970 300 x 220.jpg

My mother, Nancy LaMar, in her early 30s.

A sad milestone was reached this past weekend in my family’s journey through Alzheimer’s disease. 

My 73-year-old mother, Nancy, was diagnosed with the disease three years ago.  Her memory and thinking skills have progressively gotten worse.  It’s common today for Mom to ask the exact same question five times within a half-hour period.  A woman who once was bright, often smiling and could and would talk to anyone she met now only discusses her meals and snacks.  Other conversations are difficult to maintain. 

mom last Christmas 300 x 220.jpg

Mom last Christmas

Mom has lived in a nursing facility for the past two years.

Even though the meals are good and well planned where she lives, she asks my sister or me to take her out to lunch every day.  Often, she forgets that she already called and will contact us multiple times a day.  She tells us that she doesn’t always like what they’re serving or that other residents or the staff is mean to her.  We investigated and are confident that’s not the case.  Mom wants to be with us and get out of the home.

We can’t blame her.  Both my sister and I are saddened by the fact that our mother is living in a nursing facility and can’t come and go as she used to just a short time ago.  I feel guilty that we don’t see her or call her more often.  A phone call always starts with Mom asking if we’re going out to lunch.  When we say we can’t that day, that’s usually as far as she wants to take the conversation. 

Each of us usually takes her out at least once a week.

Anyway, Mom went to lunch with my sister on Sunday.

During the drive to the restaurant, Mom saw a road she thought she recognized and said, “That’s where your mom and I used to go to the doctor’s office.”

As my sister related it to me, she asked Mom, “What do you mean, your mom?  You’re my mom.”

Mom responded, “No, I didn’t give birth to you.”

My sister asked, “Who did?”

Mom replied, “Hazel.”

Hazel was my mother’s sister who was more than 20 years older than Mom.

My sister asked, “Well, who am I?”

Mom said, “Well, you’re not June or Joyce” referring to two of Hazel’s daughters.

My sister said, “Mom, I’m Lynn and you had me in 1962.”

Mom seemed surprised, “Oh, I don’t remember that.”

We knew the day would come when Mom didn’t recognize one of us.  We actually didn’t think it would happen this soon.

It probably isn’t permanent that she forgets my sister, but we expect that day is approaching.

Alzheimer’s’ Disease is heart breaking.  I personally feel like I’m grieving the loss of a parent.  I guess in a way I am.  Only, this loss is a slow, drawn out one.

Friends often express their sorrow and sympathy for me when they hear stories like this one or find out my mother has Alzheimer’s.

I appreciate their sentiment, but I feel guilty accepting it because I’m not the one with the disease, I’m not the person who has very few memories of the time she spent with her husband, her parents, her family, or her friends and I’m not the one who has no recollection of one of the happiest days of her life.  I was there and remember that joy.

There are millions of families going through the same experience we are at this moment.  That doesn’t make it any less painful.

My sister and I only have one mother.  And, she’s close to not being with us anymore, even if she is.

Tuesday's Radio Smart Talk will focus on the state's plan on Alzheimer's.

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