Luz’s mother and father lived together in their
downtown Brooklyn apartment until 2004, when
her father passed away from cancer. In the months
leading up to her Dad’s death, Luz began to notice some
changes in her mother — her memory, mostly, but also
some changes in her personality. Mom used to be sweet as
pie but now, she can turn on a dime and gets very defensive
whenever Luz asks her anything.
She figured the changes were related to her father’s
illness and subsequent death. After all, caring for a spouse
can be incredibly stressful and the death of her husband hit
her mother quite hard.
Leave well enough alone, she thought.
During a visit with her mother a few weeks later, Luz
noticed a stack of unopened mail. When she asked her
mother about the pile, she said she could not be bothered.
Luz again thought her mom was probably still depressed
over the loss of her husband and did not think this was
cause for too much concern. As she went through the
mail, however, she learned that things were about to get
much more complicated.
Dad always took care of the bills but since he became ill
in 2001, Mom had taken over the responsibility. In the pile
of mail, Luz found a letter from the management company
of her mother’s apartment building, as well as letters from
each of the utilities. According to the letters, Mom’s rent
had not been paid in several months and two utilities had
issued turn-off notices because of failure to pay.
Luz asked her mother what happened and she said she
had paid those bills and the letters were wrong. “They
just want my money,” she said. Luz followed up with each
company and with the bank and learned that, unfortunately,
the letters were accurate. She quickly took care of the rent
and utility arrears, and then sat her mother down for a
Luz told her mother that she was worried about her.
Her mother admitted she wasn’t her usual self but couldn’t
explain what was happening. Luz thought she should see
a doctor, and together they made an appointment for
later that week.
The doctor recommended
Luz’s mother be seen for a
diagnostic evaluation. When the
results came back, they learned
that she has Alzheimer’s disease.
In the months since her
mother’s diagnosis, Luz has had a
very rough time. She has become
incredibly sad and anxious,
affecting both her personal and
professional lives. She wakes each
morning in a near panic, worried
about her mom, who lives alone.
When her anxiety became too
much to bear, she essentially
moved back in with her mother,
staying at her apartment at least five nights each week. This
left little time for her to tend to her own life and friendships
have suffered as a result. She speaks with her mother many
times throughout the day while at work and her supervisor
has started to complain.
Knowing something had to give, Luz reached out to the
NYC Chapter and has been working with a care consultant.
Together they registered Luz for several Chapter meetings
including Understanding Dementia: What You Need to Know
and Where to Go; Legal & Financial Seminar; and Medicaid
Home Care so that she can start the ball rolling on ensuring
her mother is well cared for as the disease progresses.
Once Luz began to put things in place to ensure her
mother’s care, she had to start caring for herself. Luz and
her care consultant speak regularly so that she can share her
experiences and get a professional’s point of view. She is
looking into private therapy and is considering a support
group. Though it is still quite difficult for Luz to talk about
the impact Alzheimer’s disease has had on her mother and
herself, she knows she cannot do it alone.
And with the programs and services offered by the
NYC Chapter, she does not have to.
Alzheimer’s Association Care Consultants are here to assist you as you navigate through this difficult process. If you would like to meet
with a care consultant, please call the Chapter at 646-744-2900 or our 24-hour Helpline at 800-272-3900. Caregivers featured in this
series have agreed to share their stories. Names have been changed to protect their anonymity.
— Matt Kudish, MSW
Director, Helpline &
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