Lessons Learned: One man’s journey as an Alzheimer’s caregiver
- Published: 23 February 2016
Jeanne and I filed a state handicap placard application, which her physician needed to complete. On the back was a question: “Do you feel that the patient should be retested?” The doctor checked, “Yes.”
Jeanne had to go to Springfield to take her driving test and preferred that one of her daughters go with her. She failed miserably. Shortly afterward she was told that her license was revoked.
This is an amazing part of her story. She had been diagnosed with loss of executive functioning years earlier which kept her from following any sort of multistage task like following a recipe or balancing a checkbook.
Without my knowledge, she wrote a letter to the state requesting that she be able to get a temporary license while she attended a driver’s education program so she could prepare to take the test again. The first I became aware of this was when she showed me the state’s reply granting her a hearing. She presented her plea to a panel and was granted the temporary license. She enrolled in and completed a driver’s education course, went down with her daughter to retake the test, and failed it badly. Having lost her license and living in Colrain, Jeanne felt very isolated and lonely.
Shortly after that I spoke to a SHINE (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) counselor who told me that Jeanne might be eligible for the Frail Elderly Waiver. To the best of my knowledge, this program is designed to help people who are nursing home eligible to maintain their independence with a paid personal care attendant (PCA).
She was assessed and deemed eligible for this service for 16 hours a week. I found someone with excellent credentials who lived nearby and could drive her around. I was still working at the time and now I didn’t have to worry about Jeanne being alone. Unfortunately, the PCA was very directive and my wife resented having a “baby sitter” and being told what to do and how to do it.
Then we found Dorie, an angel on earth.
She was gentle and caring and included Jeanne in decision making.
“Jeanne, I’m getting hungry. Are you? I can’t decide between a ham or tuna sandwich. Which would you like?”
Dorie had a list of things Jeanne liked; activities, foods, restaurants. Dorie also had an envelope with some cash to take her out or go shopping.
Jeanne fell in love with Dorie, and I was so grateful for having some help.
How to contact Mo