Mooresville Alzheimer’s Care Expert Says Each Story is Unique
Alzheimer’s care professionals hear a variety of stories when we ask why someone is looking for Alzheimer’s placement for their loved one. Over the years, I’ve heard the reasons countless times. I am thankful that I am able to hear these stories from families; stories that touch me and shake me to the core and remind me why we do this. The story below is one of these stories that I will never forget.
Recently, I met a gentleman inquiring about placement for his wife. He felt she needed placement into our Alzheimer’s community. I asked him why he felt this way and he gave me all the reasons I have heard many times. As he shared their story, his daughter started to cry. I asked him was there something that had happened in the last few days that made him feel compelled to come talk with us that day. His response was he “just did not know what else to do.”
Fighting back tears, he told me that for the last several months his wife would wake up around 4:00 am every morning and roll over next to him. As she patted him on the cheek and kissed him, she would call him by name and tell him how much she loved him, then she would fall back to sleep. For the first few weeks she did this, he would lay in bed awake staring at the ceiling until mid morning hoping and praying this would be the day she would wake up and know who he was. But every morning she would wake up and he could tell from the look in her eyes as he prepared her breakfast and helped her get dressed she did not know who he was.
The disappointment and pain in his voice was hard to bear. How can you begin to comfort someone with that pain? I told him what a special moment that must have been and thanked him for sharing this with me. I asked him again, why he felt it was time to start thinking about placement for her. With tears running down his face he looked me in the eye and answered, “Because she stopped waking up at 4:00 am and no longer knew who I was even for those few precious seconds.”
He asked me how this could happen to someone who was only 59 years old. Although it offered little comfort, I placed my arm around his shoulder and said, “I wish I knew.” It is so hard to fathom the pain this family was facing. She would be one of our many residents, but she was his only love in life. It takes such courage to admit that your family member has Alzheimer’s and that you really don’t know what to do to try to make things better for your loved one.
I am humbled each and every time I meet a new family struggling with the many challenges of this disease. I always remind myself and our team members that she is the only wife and mother this family has. I know in my heart, and I will never stop believing, that we can make a difference, one resident and one family at a time.
–Richard G. Seifried, Executive Director, Carillon Assisted Living of Mooresville
[Editor’s note: Seifried is a dementia care expert with more than 25 years experience caring for people and families affected by Alzheimer’s disease. Today, he is executive director of Carillon’s Mooresville assisted living community, located in the Lake Norman area just outside Charlotte.]
on January 31, 2014