I felt like I was hit twice by surprise with Alzheimer’s in the past week. First my neighbor called me to tell me that Sara, a neighbor from across the street had passed away this past week. She saw Sara’s obituary in the newspaper and it said she had Alzheimer’s disease and named the hospice that had cared for her.
I really didn’t know Sara or her husband at all. My neighbor had brought over cookies last Christmas and met Sara’s husband and seen Sara though she was just staring into space and didn’t say anything. Her husband introduced her and said she had advanced Alzheimer’s disease., and my neighbor shared this information with me. One of the things that hit me so hard when I read Sara’s obituary was the fact that she was only 67 years old. I know younger people can get Alzheimer’s but still tend to think of it as an old person’s disease. I think I especially feel this way because my dad is so much older.
In any case, Sara’s funeral was today. I saw her family, including young grandsons, dressed up to go to the funeral. Just shortly after that I saw a U-Haul truck come just 2 houses away. At first I thought they were packing up and moving out the same day as the funeral and that struck me as very odd.
Then I realized the U-Haul truck was 2 doors down. I talked to my other neighbors out front as we took in some sunshine and shared neighborhood news. It turns out that Carla, another older neighbor, was moving to assisted living today.
Carla had fallen about a year ago and broke her hip. She never fully recovered from that and still used a walker to barely get around. In fact, she looked so frail that her next door neighbor started bringing in her mail so that she wouldn’t fall while outside getting it for herself.
As the neighbors talked, they reviewed how Carla stopped going out at all and stopped attending community activities. She often didn’t even get dressed and just sat on her sofa all day. Soon her sons realized she had Alzheimer’s disease and began to push her to move to assisted living.
Carla resisted moving until this month. Her oldest son stopped by to visit with us as we talked out front. He said this time he didn’t give his mother a choice. He just told her she would have to move her to assisted living. Carla has several sons and they all came to help her move. (I was jealous to see that after I had to move mom and dad with only my son to help. My brother and sister were both AWOL from that difficult job!)
Looking back over the past year I can see that Carla’s sons really had no other choice. Carla was deteriorating month by month. Her nearest neighbors tried to visit regularly and check up on her but there wasn’t much they could do to help. She really needed daily care. Her sons had arranged some in-home care, but it wasn’t enough to guarantee her safety when she was alone especially overnight.
So here we are today on our street, feeling sad for our neighbors, both of whom were hit hard by Alzheimer’s disease. While I deal with this awful disease daily in my care and concern for dad, others run into it regularly in the neighborhood as well. If only we could come up with a method of prevention or cure for this disease!