by Becky Anderson
“Mr. Ed, Mr. Ed”- Voices ring across the parking lots, grocery stores and restaurants to us, voices of former employees from Teves Continental automotive manufacturing plants where my husband had been the Director of Operations. His knowledge and love of the automobile offered other voices with different dialects as we traveled to Germany, Austria and Switzerland for work and recreation with his business colleagues. Later in our lives, voices with other accents greeted us across mountains, prairies, small towns and cities in the United States as we participated four times in the coast to coast “Great Race” across America in his 1939 Pontiac. But eventually, they became the voices he could no longer connect to or remember.
The reality of his declining mental condition came about as a result of a home visit from a nurse who was examining us for our long term health insurance application. Her sobering assessment of his failure to pass the cognitive test and denial of his insurance coverage brought new voices into our lives. In 2010, we were introduced to the services, knowledge and personal engagement of MemoryCare. Our first meeting with our physician and social worker was in-depth with testing, observation and consultation that revealed an Alzheimer’s diagnosis. It was the beginning of regular appointments filled with not only testing, observation and advice but also encouragement, patience and constant vigilance.
In 2012, a medical emergency required the replacement of his aortic valve through complicated surgery resulting in an increased demise of his cognitive ability. The voices in our lives became a quartet of care and coordination with his regular physician, heart surgeon, cardiac physician and MemoryCare physician. Constant communication via emails and phone calls on a daily basis kept us on track with his medicines, physical needs and cognitive changes. This communication and coordination continue in our lives today-four years later.
As a caregiver, the voices at MemoryCare have provided knowledge, understanding and encouragement through times of anxiety, sadness and frustration. At their recommendation, I enrolled in the MemoryCare Caregivers Education program, and the Program’s information notebook still serves as a guide in resolving new issues of moods, hygiene and communication. The availability of information in the library and monthly MemoryCaregivers Network groups for caregivers provide a consistent voice of encouragement and the knowledge that you are not alone in the journey.
Upon the advice of our MemoryCare physician, my husband is enrolled in an adult day care program where he engages with other people and a variety of activities. As we continue our journey we know that our lives will not be overcome by the “sounds of silence” but will be surrounded and supported by a chorus of family, friends, and our community and…MemoryCare.