Through the power of DanCE, we can change the Face of Alzheimer’s
28th Jan


My Stages through the Alzheimer’s Journey as a Caregiver, by P.D. McCombs

1.Shock: When I saw that my mother, Beverly McCombs, could not draw a clock, among a battery of tests given to determine dementia, I was shocked. During the entire hour, my beloved mother was asked to answer questions she simply could not answer.

2. Denial: As I sat there with tears streaming down my face, my mother simply said to the doctor, “Well…I knew I wasn’t as sharp as I used to be.” What…that’s it! That’s all she had to say. No push back against the news that was delivered by a doctor who looked to be fresh out of medical school. A simple acknowledgement was all she gave. It would take me years to give a similar acknowledgement.

3. Education: When my grandmother was living her dementia life at the age of 95, the name Alzheimer’s was new onto the scene. What my grandmother had was called senility. It’s what “old folks” got, they said (the medical profession)…the natural aging process. In the 15-year span since the death of my grandmother in 1985, Alzheimer’s was now a household word and not just “old folks” got it, and it wasn’t the natural aging process. I need to get educated about the disease so I could help my mother. I started with the Alzheimer’s Association.

4. Theories: I became sold on the stimulation theory. Mother exercised while we reminisced. She volunteered daily at various organizations. Stimulation…socialization…that’s all she needs…and she won’t have Alzheimer’s anymore, I believed. Being the extrovert that she was, mother happily obliged. She even became a Wal-Mart greeter for a year. She worked two days a week, two hours each shift, with a paid caregiver always close by. It didn’t prevent or reverse Alzheimer’s but her quality of life was high.

5. In The End My Thinking Changed: I used to believe the worst thing that could happen to someone was to have dementia. I have since changed my mind. As I look at how others make their transition (cancer, emphysema, etc.), I see physical suffering until the end comes. With Alzheimer’s, I saw a peaceful existence until the end. Yes, there were times that were not peaceful, but for the most part, mother lived a peaceful life … all the way to the end. She died May 26, 2009, at the age of 92. She lived a good life all the way to the end. No regrets.

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