My mother was diagnosed with dementia back in 2011, but in hindsight the disease lived in her for at least 2 years prior, we were just unaware or made excuses for the strange or forgetful behavior that we saw. In January of 2012 she went missing. It was a rainy Friday night and she was missing for over 8 hours. It was the worst 8 hours of my life. At first, I didn’t want to bother the police and so I spent an hour searching her condo complex with a neighbor and called everyone I thought she could possibly be with, but came up empty on where my mother could be. You see, I took her license away from her (through a wonderful anonymous form at the DMV) in November of 2010 after some concern of her getting lost, and some troubling driving situations.
SWAT central was set-up in the parking lot of her condo complex. They had search dogs, the helicopter out and had traced her cell phone pings to the neighborhood nearby. I called my friends and family and posted a message on Facebook. We had over 50 volunteers looking for her that is, in addition to the police force.
Friends of friends were called into action by my Facebook post and there were people looking for my mother that I didn’t even know. To this day I get teary-eyed thinking about all the people that came out to look for my mom on that rainy Friday night.
Hours into the search, a young couple who lived in the adjoining complex came over to the base camp and informed the officer that they had picked up a woman matching the description and given her a ride. I raised my voice and asked, ”Where did you take her?” They dropped her off at a gas station off of the 805 and 30th street, and left her there in the rain. Again, I get teary-eyed, thinking of my poor mom who had a toe amputated in late November standing lost and confused in the pouring rain.
The police regrouped along with my friends and family and moved their search efforts over to that neighborhood. All this time, I was not allowed to leave the base camp set up in the parking lot of my mothers condo complex…all I wanted to do was go look for my mom! Time seemed to go by like molasses. About an hour later, we were notified that a woman having a similar description as my mom was picked by a police officer. The officer at base camp stated that they had to verify her identification, before she could be brought home to us. Luckily, my good friend Mark Schaffer was with him and was able to identify her by showing her a photo he had on his phone of my mom with Chopper. Finally, the terror was over and my mom was on her way home. I cried hysterically- out of relief. I knew then that I would never let this happen.
Since that horrific night, my mother has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and I arranged for home health care for 11 months. She stayed comfortably in her home until December 26, 2013. It was a burden on us, working full-time and caring for her on the nights and days when I couldn’t get coverage, but we managed for almost another full year after she went missing.
She now resides in a special care unit at a nursing home in El Cajon. However, the paperwork, continuous trips to the doctor and the continued decline in her health weighs heavy on my heart. At times, I feel her life is ending. Her face seems to have aged another 10 years. I want to give her better care, but cannot afford the high price tag associated with a private care facility for Alzheimer’s. Like other patients in the nursing home, she needs better care; she needs constant supervision, and interaction.
By donating my time and money to the Alzheimer’s Association, I hope they find a cure for this dreadful disease one day. I hope every diagnosed person receive quality, affordable care. After all, we must honor Thy Father and Mother.
*Update: There are new drugs being tested to stop Alzheimer’s. It is in the infant stage of testing but there is a glimmer of hope.
Article regarding cost of care
Article ranking Alzheimer’s as the number 3rd cause for death.
Contact Frizti Gros-Daillon at House Hold Guardians to ensure your home or the home of a loved one is safe for them: http://www.householdguardians.com/