Living with Mom–An Alzheimer’s story

This is the first installment in the ongoing story of caring at home for my mother, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s one year ago.
There will an a companion video series coming along as well documenting our struggles and successes.

Today is Wednesday January 10th, 2018.

Introductions:
Janet Chilson–Mom
73 years old

Mom--Janet
This mom–Janet

Robert Bleattler–Me, the oldest son and primary caregiver
53 years old

Dawn Wellman–daughter 49 Years old
Deral Bleattler–son 47 years old

Marie and Bill Thompson–Friends and caregivers ( they are really Family to us)

A brief history:

In February of 2017 Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, though we knew before then that it was beginning. At the time she was diagnosed, she was told she could no longer drive an automobile, which was good as she was getting lost frequently. Losing her ability to drive, and therefore in her mind…independence, really took a toll. Although we got her out as often as possible, it was devastating to her and very difficult for the family to watch. She became increasingly depressed and agitated, and seemed to almost give up for a period of time. Just writing about it now,makes my eyes well with tears remembering how the light had disappeared from her smile, and the way she didn’t seem to enjoy the things that once made her so happy. It took some time, but we were able to bring her out of that episode of despair. Although, she has not been the same since then.

At the time of Diagnosis, Mom was living with her best Friend Marie Thompson and Husband Bill, she had been living there for 7 years. My step father had passed away some years ago and Mom didn’t want to live alone, or have to live with any of her children and lose any of her independence. Marie was fantastic with Mom during those first few months, though Mom was becoming a handful. In August, Mom tripped and fell. She broke her right arm, I was away for work. A week later she took a road trip with her Brother Rich and his wife Deb, to meet with all of the living siblings at her youngest brothers home in North Carolina for a family get together.Everything seemed to be going well, though the trauma of the break seemed to trigger some other symptoms. She was afraid to walk, as she thought she would fall again. On September 1st, Marie awoke to find Mom had descended the steps from her room during the night and made her way downstairs unassisted, she was sitting in the dark alone and completely disoriented. Can you imagine the absolute fear Marie must have felt when she discovered Mom was not in her room?

We contacted her primary care doctor who told us to take her immediately to an ER. We never did get a definite answer as to what triggered this, but she spent 11 days in the hospital. She suffered episodes of unexplained seizures and was in a coma for almost 4 days. I have been through a lot in my life, but those first 6-7 days in that hospital were the hardest thing I have ever been through. I lived at that hospital. After 11 days Mom was due to be released to a rehab facility for 30 days, as she was near unable to walk. On the day of her release, she was dropped by someone in that hospital, and suffered a broken hip. She has not yet recovered from that trauma, and I am sure she never will. Her hip has healed well, as well as her arm. Since the release from the hospital, mom has not been the same. The disease seems to have progressed faster since then. Although she is physically healthy, her mental facilities are not faring as well. When she was released from the rehab facility, she came home to live with me. Marie and Bill were just unable to care for mom at the level she now required as they are both around Mom’s age.

This brings us to the present, the here and now, the today.
New Alzheimer’s study

This is by far, the hardest job I have ever had. And it IS a job, 24 hours a day 7 days a week she requires care. It is also by far, the most rewarding job I have ever had. I have learned a lot about myself, and become closer to my mother than I had been my whole adult life. She is by all rights what my life now revolves around, every decision I make I must stop and think how will it affect Mom? My whole life changed when she came home to live with me, and this is our story!

Please follow us, as we together learn how to best navigate this murky unknown atrocity.