There have been more than a few books written about dealing with Alzheimer’s or dementia. But Moving Mama – Taking Care of Mother During Her Final Years with Alzheimer’s presents the topic in a personal, down-to-Earth way that is refreshing and painful at the same time. It’s almost like reading a letter from one family member to another.
Author Anne Hays Egan has bared her soul in sharing the story of her mother Lorene’s declining health. In the process, she reveals lessons learned about the devastating spiral patients and family members go through. Without blatantly preaching, she shares tips from first recognizing the disease to its final stages.
She sets the stage with a family history that may be a trifle too long. But the intention, no doubt, is to help readers see a glimpse of “Mama” before the illness, versus the woman who was unfortunately diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and lived years with it.
Anne’s mother was an intelligent woman and a talented musician and music teacher. Ironically, her music ability stayed with her while other memories failed, but Egan explains that this isn’t terribly uncommon. Lorene was a gracious Southern lady who spent $12,000 on roof repairs she didn’t need because the workers (read “scam artists”) were such “nice young men.” This episode was one of the first that tipped off Anne and her siblings that the previous slight memory lapses might actually be escalating into something more.
But, as is the case with many Alzheimer’s/dementia patients, her mother had a clever way of covering for herself and charming doctors out of believing anything was wrong. Eventually, however, the disease became obvious and the family had to spring into action to protect their mother and provide the best care for her.
A couple of passages in one chapter are repeated in another, whether intentional or not. It’s a bit confusing but it speaks of the passion and urgency the author has in revealing her story. She deals with the hard issues – setting up a Power of Attorney, managing someone’s finances, knowing when to hire help, and dealing with the heartbreaking reality that someone as close as a mother might one day not know her children.
But the book is more than a personal story. Each chapter ends with a summary of lessons learned and advice to others. Egan, who has worked with community and regional health planning and has researched and written in the health field, offers recommendations for books to read or web sites to visit.
Moving Mama… refers, not as one might suspect, to moving her to a nursing home. Instead, it’s a tale of an elaborate but heartfelt family plan to move their mother from one family member to another in an effort to keep her safe (because Lorene was a feisty and proud woman to the end).
If you suspect someone you care about has the beginning of Alzheimer’s/dementia, or if they’ve been recently diagnosed, it’s well worth reading this book. Do it sooner, rather than later, while you can benefit from Egan’s experiences going through all phases of the disease.