The DeKam Girls…that is what we were called growing up in SW Michigan. Margie and I were the younger ones, 2 years apart; we played together, grew up together, even went to the same college.
Years/decades separated our lives as adults.
Margie lost her husband at 54; life alone was a challenge for Margie, so much so that maybe we missed the early signs of Dementia. She withdrew from social contacts, had difficulties with personal and work-related jobs (esp. spread sheets!); hobbies(quilting, watercolor, crochet, sewing) were gradually dropped. Margie yearned to be done working, but never had a plan to fill her days after retirement. When her communication skills deteriorated, I started paying attention. Margie lost sense of smell and taste, developed a Frankenstein Gait, struggled with checkbook, calendar. Parkinson’s Disease was the diagnosis. That diagnosis was not the whole picture; in 2020 Cognitive Testing confirmed PD, and also revealed Dementia NOT related to PD. Driving privilege was taken away (my Bad Cop job) midway through Covid Time. Somehow, from long distance…with daily phone calls, Meals on Wheels, Home Health Help and caring neighbors, Margie made it through her 2 Covid vaccinations; post-haste we moved her to NJ and Assisted Living. She was moved to Memory Care the next day.
4/5 months later, Margie has a little routine in Memory Care. She attends activities but does not participate. TV remotes and phones are out of her range now. Meals are a highlight of her day. If I show her a new picture of my grandchild, she breaks a smile. And she still knows me.
Dementia is a journey, for the whole family. Some of these trips are slow with subtle changes. In our case, the journey seems so fast…Dysphasia makes communication challenging. People at her facility sometimes think that I’m Margie’s daughter. (Incredibly sad) So we all carry on; there are snacks to deliver to Margie, walks in her garden, occasional trips in the car.
If you are reading this, I know you care about Margie and our family. If you can join our walk team, PLEASE sign up now!!! If the distance is too great, I encourage you to donate to Alzheimer’s Association today and join our team’s fundraising opportunity. The money goes primarily to research and for support and education; your gift might help another member of my family, or yours, fight this disease.
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
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