"I can’t tell you how nice it was to talk to people who understood."
My name is Samantha Burton, and this is a story about my mom and our journey with Alzheimer's disease.
Five and a half months ago, Mom was officially diagnosed. It was good to get the diagnosis. It helped in a lot of ways. But things are getting harder.
It’s not like life stops when you get Alzheimer's. Mom still has to buy groceries, go to the dentist, feed the dog.
And her finances. She still keeps a checkbook, with pen and paper, and it’s a mess. The other night, I was trying to help her out, trying to figure out which bills she needed to pay. And she snapped at me. Yelled at me like this was all my fault.
And that’s when I realized I couldn’t do this on my own. I’d been trying not to burden my husband… trying to protect my kids. And trying not to embarrass mom. But it wasn’t working.
When we got her diagnosis, the people at the neurologist’s office gave us a bunch of brochures and pamphlets. One was for a local support group. So I called the number on the back, and they invited me to a meeting the next week.
I can’t tell you how nice it was to talk to people who understood. I didn’t realize how much frustration and anxiety I was carrying around inside me.
The most important thing I took away from the meeting was how important it is to talk to people in mom’s life – friends, neighbors, our accountant and lawyer. To tell them what’s going on.
And I also heard how important it is to talk to the doctor. He’s going to be our greatest resource and ally. I feel sort of out-of-place when we go see him, but I shouldn’t. It’s my job to manage mom’s disease.
I’ve really taken the guidance to heart, and it’s already making a difference. The other day, I took mom to the nursery to buy some gardening things. And we ran into Margo, a friend of mine, and mom told Margo about her tomato vines a dozen times. But it was okay.
A couple weeks before, I’d had lunch with Margo and I told her what was going on with mom. Two of Margo’s aunts have Alzheimer's, and she understood. So as mom told her about her tomato vines, Margo was able to talk to her like she was a real person.
It absolutely made my day.
I’m glad I’m talking about it. It doesn’t always go so well, but it’s important to do. Mom has a disease. And we’re going to help her live with it.
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