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by Jeanne M. Soucy

Mom was the matriarch of the family and basically raised all four of us children by herself, since my Dad worked nights. She ruled with an iron hand and domineered over every aspect of our lives.

My Dad noticed her repeating herself 8 years ago, shortly before he died. Within a couple of years, even though she was still living by herself, I noticed her memory deteriorating.

Four and one half years ago I moved in with Mom on a temporary basis, or so I thought at the time. After being there a short time I suspected she had Alzheimer's Disease. Since then I have taken her for four evaluations. It was only the last one in February of this year, when she was hospitalized for one week and the disease had progressed to the stage that it had, I was medically informed that it was indeed Alzheimer's Disease. Since the hospitalization she has gone down about 65-70%. At that time, with doctor recommendation, her driver's license was taken away and I assumed all household responsibilities and have been doing so since.

Four days a week, Mom goes to the Adult Daycare Program at Easter Seals from 7AM-3PM when I have a CNA pick her up, take her home and stay there until I get home from work at 5PM. Friday I have the CNA there from 7AM-5PM and I have the responsibility the rest of the time.

I've been here for four years and am still watching, with God by my side, as my mother deteriorates day by day. As she shuffles around the house, "What time is it?" "What day is it?" "Where is ___?" "What time is it?" "What day is it?" "Do I have to work tomorrow?" "I don't know how much longer I can keep working." "It's not fair that I have to work at my age." "What time is it?" "Is anyone coming today?" "What are you going to do today?" Repeat above over and over until some days you think you will lose your mind.

There is absolutely no drug on the market which can assist a caretaker. I live with depression, stress, and anxiety levels never before realized. I have given up counseling, antidepressants and take an occasional Valium when absolutely necessary. God is my HOPE. The only respite I receive is a ONE TIME Federal Grant of $1,200 (simply translated into 66.6 hrs. at $18/hr - not even three days). What little money mother has remaining I use towards bills and her care (Easter Seals, bussing, medical, household etc.), I will not spend her money to give me a break. She needs it so I can keep her home as long as possible. PLEASE HELP US!!

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