Our whole house smelled like baking. I’d say that’s my fondest memory from before. Before my mom forgot how to bake. Before she put couch cushions in the oven. Before dementia.
My mom, Alicia, and I have always been extremely close. She was a single mom and I was her only child. We’ve been pretty much inseparable my whole life.
When I had kids of my own, my mom was a wonderful role model. And when I became a single parent to two young boys, she helped me raise them. She was like a second mother to Tyler and Aaron. So much so, they call her Mum.
About 10 years ago, we started noticing changes in Mum. She was repeating herself a lot and couldn’t remember conversations. She also misplaced things or put them where they didn’t belong. My son Tyler is the one who found the cushions in the oven.
Mum was in complete denial, which made it nearly impossible to convince her to see a doctor. For about two years, we struggled to understand what was happening and how to handle it. I’ve since learned that it’s fairly common to experience delays in diagnoses. Too often symptoms like memory loss are brushed off as signs of aging.
The first thing I did when we finally received the Alzheimer’s diagnosis, was reach out to the Alzheimer Society. It was a real turning point for me and my family. I only wish I’d called them sooner.
The guidance we’ve received, and the programs Mum attends, have been a huge help to my family. Today, if you can, I hope you’ll make a donation to ensure support is there for everyone who needs it.
Like so many families touched by dementia, perhaps yours too, we have found the pandemic to be very challenging, especially where Mum’s care is concerned.
Prior to the pandemic, my mom attended in-person programs at our local Alzheimer Society five days a week. It gave me great peace of mind to know she was safe and cared for while I was at work and the kids were at school. And Mum loved the activities and social interaction.
When in-person programs had to be cancelled we were worried about the impact that would have on Mum, but thankfully the Alzheimer Society quickly offered virtual programs. All four of my kids take turns doing the activities with Mum. Tyler also makes sure someone is there to help Mum participate in virtual bingo, exercises, singalongs and more.
I’m fortunate, and Mum is too, that our whole family pitches in to help. I know that kind of support isn’t available for everyone. That’s where the Alzheimer Society comes in – they can be that extra shoulder to lean on and help ease the worry and isolation.
No one should face this disease on their own, which is why the support from our donors is so important.
Because the need is so great, I hope you’ll also give some thought to monthly giving. Ongoing monthly donations are really the best way to provide a steady flow of funds for essential programs, as well as for critical dementia research.
The holiday season can be difficult for people living with dementia. I miss shopping with Mum and seeing her face light up when the kids open their gifts. I miss watching her make hopia – a traditional Filipino pastry – and how incredible our whole house smelled when she baked. But mostly, I just miss my mom… from before.
Judy, daughter & caregiver
P.S. The support from donors is a lifeline to families like mine who are touched by dementia, especially during the holiday season. Please consider making a donation today.