How to Stay Young: Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease

By: Julie Huck
By: Julie Huck

"She grew up as a farm girl in a log cabin."

"She wasn't ever afraid to do anything, try anything once."

Then a few months ago Isabella's sons began noticing some changes in their mom.

Dick Babcock, who's caring for his mom with Alzheimer's, says, "She knew her son and she knew all about me, but she didn't know me when I was right next to her talking to her."

Isabella's husband had just died, so Wayne, her other son, brought her home to live with him. It became apparent that something was very wrong.

Wayne Babcock, who cares for his mom with Alzheimer's, says, "She'd forget things like to turn the water off."

Then, Isabella's doctor diagnosed the problem, Alzheimer's. It sparked a range of emotions in the family.

"Frustrated, lost, like we were the only ones out there."

It got harder and harder for the Babcocks to balance full-time jobs and give Isabella the care she needed.

"We had to watch her 24 hours a day, we were afraid she'd get outside."

They began looking into nursing homes and stumbled upon one home specializing in memory care. It was designed specifically to care for patients with Alzheimer's and other types of dementia.

Delores Moyer, N.P., the founder and owner of Harbor House, says, "We have a walking path internally, open spaces outside where people can go out and walk and have some sense of independence, but still be safe."

The Babcocks felt this cheerful home would give Isabella some independence and help her live with dignity, but that didn't make move-in day any easier.

"I've done a lot of hard things in my life, but the hardest was to walk out that door the first day and leave her."

The staff at Harbor House knows that feeling. That's why they hold information nights and family events.

"We look at the family as a second entity that we're caring for and helping to get through this disease process."

Today, the Babcocks understand their mom's illness a little better and they're finding some peace of mind.

"I guess you just have to live for the moment, accept the fact that when I walk in she doesn't know who I am but I can make her smile and I can make her feel comfortable."

And though they can't give Isabella back those stolen memories, they can still create new ones.

If you're caring for someone with Alzheimer's or simply want to understand more about the disease, Harbor House offers informational meetings and support groups once a month. You can find out the days and times by calling (715) 355-0812.

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