Losing Mom to Alzheimer’s

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By Deb Taylor, CEO

Sharon Taylor, my mom, was a senior finance accountant for the city of Apple Valley for 29 years.  She retired at the age of 62.  A couple years later, I began to notice that mom was forgetting things.  Then, she had trouble writing a check.  My dad, Garry Taylor, my sister, Marie Taylor and I went with mom to an appointment with a neurologist.  The doctor oversaw testing for Alzheimer’s.

At our next appointment, mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at the age of 64.

The next thing we noticed was that mom would begin to miss ingredients when she was preparing meals or baking.  She was having difficulty with sequencing (e.g. step 1, step 2, etc).

As the disease progressed, mom had difficulty with finding the right words.  Sometimes she would call a cat a dog and mix things up.  Sometimes, she came up with words we had never heard of to describe something.

Over time, mom lost the ability to cook. My dad never cooked a day in his life.  Well, dad learned how to cook and prepared meals for mom. As mom’s disease progressed, she became a picky eater. One day mom would like something dad cooked and the next, she wouldn’t eat it. But he kept cooking for mom and trying new things.

Dad would say, when your mother can’t take her own shower, then it will be time for mom to go into memory care. Well, that time came and went and dad bathed mom. There were many times when mom would kiss dad, tell him that she loved him and that he took good care of her. That would put a smile on my dad’s face.

Dad would say, when your mother can’t go to the bathroom on her own, then it will be time for mom to go into memory care. Well, that time came and went and dad helped mom go to the bathroom.

Dad would say, when your mother doesn’t know me anymore, then it will be time for mom to go into memory care. Well, that time came and dad continued to take care of mom. Mom didn’t know dad was her husband, but she did know he took good care of her and he made her smile.

Mom lost the ability to recall the past and to conceive the future.  Being with mom required all of us to be in the moment with her.  It was quite a lesson on being present for the person you are with.

Dad continued to take care of mom for some time, a total of 8 1/2 years. Not only did he take good care of mom, he took her out every day, took her to the cabin, took her to Florida, and he talked to mom. He gave her a good quality of life and I believe that is why mom was able to stay at home for as long as she did.

Then the time came… last September, 2016 when mom needed more care. Dad selected Emerald Crest Memory Care in Burnsville, which was just 1/2 mile from his home. It took about nine people to do the job that dad did – take care of mom 24-7.

In the end, mom lost the ability to eat, walk or talk.  Mom passed away in March 2017.

I discovered this quote on FamilyShare.com and it really captures my mom’s unconditional love.

“A Mother’s Love”

Your arms were always open when I needed a hug.

Your heart understood when I needed a friend.

Your gentle eyes were stern when I needed a lesson.

Your strength and love guided me and gave me wings to fly.

I miss you, mom!