A man we’ll call “Max” had worked on road construction for 45 years before beingdiagnosed four years ago with dementia and about six months ago with Alzheimer’s. Now 68, he has a risk of falling, and he tends to wander looking for his childhood home. He is completely dependent on others for bathing, dressing, eating, and personal hygiene.
His 64-yearold wife “Mona” was a high school librarian, but she took early retirement two years ago because her husband could not be left alone. She spent 24 hours a day, seven days a week caring for her husband. She couldn’t go to the grocery store without taking him with her and stopped going to church because her husband got agitated. Their friends stopped coming around because being around Max had become awkward.
Susan, an Alzheimer’s Association dementia care specialist who is part of the United Way LIVE WELL initiative, began working with Mona to help Mona find a balance between caring for her husband and caring for herself.
She taught Mona ways to reduce her depression, cope with overwhelming stress and continue to be a good wife to her husband of many years. Mona joined a support group, and Easter Seals North Texas provided a qualified person to stay with her husband occasionally so she could run errands, take breaks and find time to reconnect with friends. This respite care, combined with adult day care, eventually enabled Mona to go back to work part time and bring in some much-needed income. She learned to accept the Alzheimer’s stages that her husband would go through, and she also discovered her own resilience.
“I cannot begin to thank Susan for coming by and just letting me vent or talk or cry,” said Mona. Susan helped her learn to accept help, she said, and “helped me realize I am doing OK with my husband and not to feel guilty.”
Your support of United Way is helping Max and Mona on a very challenging journey.United Way’s Area Agency on Aging brought to Tarrant County the research-based REACH (Resources for Enhancing Alzheimer’s Caregiver Health) program used by Susan and Mona. And this year alone, we are providing more than $207,000 for the Alzheimer’s REACH program and more than $330,000 for the Easter Seals respite care service to help local families.