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Justin Heaps

I will always cherish all the amazing moments with Mom before she got this disease. All the phone calls. The lunch and dinner dates. All the laughs! She gave me everything growing up and I will never forget it. Once this disease really sets in, it takes all that away plus so much more. My Father failed to take care of my mother with Alzheimer’s. He was purposely trying to fast track her death and had plans to take her retirement money. 3 years ago I took my own Father to court for a Vulnerable Adult Protection Order against him. We went to court twice and won twice. I have been taking care of her ever since. I am her Durable Power of Attorney now. I’m 35, married and have two kids. Once that happened, everything changed. I quit my full time to be at home with my Mom every day. To watch your Mom slowly die and lose her independence is heartbreaking. This illness takes over everything they knew. I help my Mom every morning and night to remind her of simple routines like Brushing your teeth and taking medications. I have to help remind when it’s time to take a shower or to change her clothes. Fast track to nowadays, my Mother is like clockwork. Her memory is if not totally gone. She wakes up, eats breakfast, watches tv all day or sleeps all day. She doesn’t talk much. If she does it’s the same questions that she has been asking for the last 3 years. We go through phases of week to week where she is angry all day. Yells at my Wife, kids, and myself. She never remembers doing this after all the yelling stops. She thinks that she is just visiting me and lives in California. She doesn’t remember what state we live in now or what year it is. It’s like living with a shell of a person. Lights are on, but no one is home. You never know stress or depression or heartbreak until you witness Alzheimer’s every day. Advice for people is don’t be afraid to ask for help if you can get it. Take care of yourself because depression will set in and take over your life if you don’t take care of yourself. You need to be strong mentally and physically if you’re taking on this task of taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s.

My Mother and I have always had a close bond relationship as Mother/Son until she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. Our favorite thing to do was to go out to eat and laugh. She had the best sense of humor. She’s one of my best friends.