Surviving Alzheimer’s with Friends, Facebook and a Really Big Glass of Wine
Emotional journeys take on different forms for many people as they go through life sometimes in fog hoping that somehow the mist will clear. Caring for a parent with dementia, as I know, is not easy and the life you are about to life will be anything but smooth for you and the person that has the illness. How do you explain to the person that they need help and things will change including their surroundings. The two authors of this book have been friends for many years as Dayna Steele takes readers on a journey of a different kind into the mind, heart, soul and life of her mother. Difficult as it seems you uses her posts on Facebook to ignite herself, keep her mind active and share her frustrations with the millions of people that enter the world of Facebook everyday. All too often we share our daily lives, update our feelings and receive reactions from people we never met yet they give us the support, guidance and love in their own special way. Each posting is heartfelt, each one raw and helps Dayna deal with her fears, frustrations and willingness to share her mother and her story with so many. Nothing like a tall glass of red wine, a special comfort food and the love of a mother to keep you strong. You often laugh, you cry and you wonder why things happen and then you question it and move on.
Fran, her mom went along with Dayna on her journey which started with her posts on facebook. Sometimes we learn about family members and their problems just by logging on to this social network and not having to repeat ourselves. The most difficult thing I faced was knowing that my mom was diagnosed with this deadly disease and heaving to search the net for any type of research or hope. So, as Dayna took her mother for that fateful checkup and listened when she was asked questions and to perform certain simple tasks, you can imagine what happens when she realizes that some simple words meant little to her. Laughed at her own responses and although the neurologist passed her fate, he mom never realized it at all. Many people with this illness often have a fixed thought in their minds and her mother just wanted to go to lunch. Learning about the stages of the disease and where she was made it easier for her to understand yet her mother, as mine, new how to hide it and often fooled many. Notes around the apartment as reminders to help her remember. Since early 2013 the author created this journal on her facebook page to help understand what her mother was going through and help others in the same situation too. You cry, you shout, you scream and you laugh all at the same time.
Each day she posted another story that she hoped help her and others to understand the devastating struggle that she and her mother faced. She also shared the fun times, the cooking, the outings and the projects she created to help her mother keep active. The author states that about the middle of 2014 she realized that these postings on Facebook were her way of letting go, dealing with her emotions and even when she was not there for her mother and away working on tour, she felt close. Calling her mother every morning since the day she left for college was their way of connecting. She was just a phone call away. You begin to miss that and hope that somehow you can regain the connection in some way. Her mother was in Regal Estates and they took good care of her and would have her call the author. Phone calls are hard at times and you often breakdown but your emotions can play havoc and until you hear the person’s voice you might panic. How do you find the humor in a situation that is not funny. She often cried, her tears overflowed like a river that has no beginning or end and hoped that the final stages would leave her with a picture of her mother that she would keep in her heart forever. The last stage of Alzheimer’s is quite different from the beginning ones as the posts changed and the emotions did to as the things her mother could do were limited. Taking the trip “down the looking glass my whole life,” like Alice she hoped to find something special down that rabbit hole. In charge of this trip “Down Alice’s looking glass my whole life,” changed her life drastically as each stage warranted that her mother be moved to different facilities for different care. Moving to a private home was the last of all of her apartment type things that she threw in her own closet. It’s hard to discard things and you find yourself holding on to many. When her mother finally passed she had to go through her things and decide what to do and its hard to get rid of more things each time she had to move and finally at the end. My mom was home and I never had to move her to a facility but I did have to rearrange her furniture, bring in a hospital bed and make room for her aids. Going through her mother’s things she sorted things out to save for sons, nieces, her brother and even Goodwill. So thank you Dayna and Heather for sharing Fran with all of us and her Dayna Steele scrapbook that her mother created. She was her biggest fan. How do you say goodbye when you are still saying hello? Getting updates she realized that things were getting worse. Her mother smiled, yelled and accused everyone of stealing and she stole things and hid them too. Not admitting to herself that things changed but at the end burying herself within her own thoughts and mind even though she could not express them. So, for those of us that have dealt with this disease cherish the moments you have with your loved one. Keep their minds active and talk to them as if they understand. Make sure people come to visit them and read this book as a reminder that they still matter and always will as the author shares Fran with all of us.
Fran Lewis: just reviews/MJ magazine