Advice When Caring for An Alzheimer's Patient

Arleen C. Mccann
6 min readJul 1, 2022
Mother with Charlie girl, her cat. 2022

I am the daughter and sole caretaker for my mother with Alzheimer’s. When I first began taking care of Mother, I thought I knew what the course of this journey would be like; I was mistaken. I moved home in 2009 to help her care for my father. He had dementia, heart disease, and black lung from over 49 years of working in the coal mines of Alabama. It was all too much for her to handle alone. Daddy passed in 2009. Immediately after he passed mother began to change drastically. I thought it was just grief from losing the only man she ever loved. Turned out she had some pretty vicious diabetes raging. I began taking her to the Doctor. Over the course of the next few years, I would tell the Doctor on our visits that something just wasn’t right with mother. She seemed to be having issues remembering names and struggling to remember paying bills. She insisted that my taking the bills to pay each month was none of my business. She used to say,” I can still handle my own business without you.” Her temper flair with a regularity that you could almost clock. It seemed to coincide with the first week of the month; just in time for the bills to be paid. I know now that she was struggling to the point that the frustration was exacerbating the disease. She was making risky decisions with the finances. I came home from errands one day to find a man I did not know, looking under our house for snakes. Mother was convinced that the house was infested with snakes. The man advertised his services as a “snake-catcher”. That cost us $300. I promptly paid him for his services rendered and told him to never come back here again. Mother was furious with me. She did not understand that this man, whom we did not know, now knew where every window and door was.

As time passed, Mother’s diabetes grew worse with each visit. Her original doctor had passed away. The new doctor noticed something about Mother’s attitude and mannerisms. He asked her to draw a clock at a specific time. She looked at me. He knew then that something wasn’t right. They prescribed her Memantine. When she began this drug, it was like you flipped a switch. She was more like the mother I remember. The mood swings weren’t as wild and unpredictable. This lasted for about 6 months. Over the course of three years, she went from one drug to two: from one dose to twice a day. This brings us up to October of…

Arleen C. Mccann

Artist/Writer/Illustrator. Creatively rearranging twenty-six letters into thought-provoking prose.