What was your mother’s diagnosis like? What was happening leading up to her diagnosis?
There are always “first signs” that something is wrong – we’ve all been there. In 2002, when I was pregnant with my third child, a baby girl after two boys, my mother was ecstatic to finally after four grandsons have a granddaughter. However, each time we spoke, she kept asking me when the baby was due and if it was still a girl. I knew that something wasn’t right. My father, a physician, was in denial and unwilling to act. Six months after my daughter Caroline was born, my 62-year-old mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). She was devastated and would call me multiple times a day telling me that the diagnosis was wrong. To avoid depression, I lied and told my mom that she was correct, that she didn’t have Alzheimer’s. For the next seven years, my mom managed to use her outgoing and friendly personality to cover up her illness.
I have witnessed the relentless and devastating effects of the disease. My once beautiful, energetic, charismatic and loving mother is now a shell of her former self. It’s been painful for our family to watch Alzheimer’s rob my mother of her strong and vibrant personality. My mother’s struggle breaks our hearts every single day. Not only did I essentially lose my mother but my children lost their grandmother. There are millions of families living this nightmare, slowly seeing their loved ones fade away, and often feeling powerless. I knew I had to turn my pain into action – for my mother, for me, for my family, for all of us.