Alzheimer’s Walk, Plymouth, MA

My mom Fern was diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s when she was only 63 years old. She died at the early age of 70, not from the Alzheimer’s, but from stomach cancer. We were at the point when it was too much for my dad to take care of her at home. She was no longer able to dress herself or do her basic hygiene. To see my beautiful, dignified mother change so much in a few short years was heartbreaking. We began looking for a skilled facility where she could be looked after in a safe environment. About that time her skin and eyes began to take on a yellowish tint, and she was pressing on her abdomen, saying, “belly hurt, belly hurt.” My poor mother was not able to communicate her illness to us until it was too late. The non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma had grown to a mass that was pressing on her liver. What to do? Chemo? Radiation? The family decided to ‘let her go’ in peace, (thank God we all agreed with this decision!) and 7 weeks later, after a short stint with Hospice, she was gone. Was the cancer a blessing in disguise? In my humble opinion, yes. I have seen caregiver’s health fail under the pressure of a loved one with severe dementia, families torn apart, and retirement savings disappear for care of the loved one.

My Aunt Blanche also suffered from the horrific disease.

So it is my pleasure to be part of the Annual Alzheimer’s Walk in our area. The photo shows myself and colleagues who are part of an elder care collaborative called Resources to Remember.