Dec 11, 2015

I surprised myself when I answered this question ...

A good friend asked me, How do you think your mother will die?

How do you think your mother will die? | Alzheimer's Reading Room
Dotty, 95 years old

This was in reference to my mother, Dotty, who was living with Alzheimer's disease.

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The answer sprung out of my brain and into my mouth without any real thinking. I answered,

She'll die from her feet up.

I was not actually surprised by my answer. It was simple really - beginning in 2001 my mother started walking slower and slower; and she was actually scrapping her feet on the ground while walking (I cured this by the way). I guess you could say she was shuffling her feet.

I'm writing this today because I noticed a recent article I posted here

was well read and receiving some very interesting comments on my social media sites.

Previously I wrote

that article has been read more than 250,000 times.

I would also suggest you read this article, it could make a difference in your life.

When I first took my mom into the gym in 2005 she could walk the equivalent of a mile in 60 minutes. She didn't actually walk a mile, instead I decided to have walk 22 minutes total no matter how long it took. In the beginning she would walk for about 15 minutes and stop. I would wait a bit then restart the treadmill. She would then walk for an additional 7 minutes.

By 2011, my mother was walking at the equivalent of a 100 minute mile. Think about it. If you walk slowly you can walk a mile in 20 minutes.

She was still walking for about 6 minutes and 30 seconds before stopping for the first time.

Then she started to drop. I would stop and start the treadmill repeated until she walked for 22 minutes. It took a total of about 28-30 minutes for her to walk 22 minutes. She was at the point where she was walking the equivalent of a little less than 2 blocks. About one fifth of a while.

When I first took my mother into the gym it was for 3 reasons.

I wanted to help strengthen her legs and keep them strong.
I had read research that indicated that dementia patients that exercised did better than those that didn't.
And, at the time she was falling down just about every day.

I cured my mother of falling by having her do a stand up sit down exercise from the end of a workout bench. Stand up sit down 12 times. Rest and do it over two more times for a total of 36 times.

I also got her a pair of better shoes - Aerosoles, Alzheimer's, and Falling. Great shoes.

After 2 weeks my mother stopped falling. She never fell again till the fateful day - May 6, 2012.

When she woke up and got out of bed on that day she fell and when I tried to lift her she was basically dead weight. My mother when to Heaven 19 days later on May 25, 2012 at 5 AM in the morning.

I should add here that my mother had a strong heart, kidneys, and lungs. The only disease she suffered from was Alzheimer's disease. So she died from complications associated from the disease.

I would also like to relate 2 important idea to you.

While I was taking care of my mom I had 2 fears.

The day would come when she could no longer walk and would become bedridden.
The day she would no longer know me.

If my mother could no longer walk, I doubted whether I would be able to take care of her at home, or whether I would be able to afford it.

If we reached the point where she know longer knew me then I knew that it would hurt my heart. Just the thought of thinking about it hurt my heart. I don't know what it feels like because it never happened. But when I hear it is happening to someone I feel a sadness that is impossible to describe.

I want to tell you this. In the beginning, from the outset, I decided to become the best caregiver I could be. I don't mind saying that after a while I decided to become the greatest caregiver in the world.

Am I the greatest - of course not. But I tried my best and this kept me going.

It is my very strong belief that caring for someone living with dementia can very easily become the greatest accomplishment of your life. It can bring real meaning to your entire existence.

It did for me. And, it will for you if you just let it happen.

If not for us, who will do it?

As I sit here writing there are tears running down my face. Am I sad? No, I am feeling an enormous amount of compassion.

I learned over these last 10 years that there are a lot of wonderful people in the world. And if you made it all the way down here while reading then you are one of them.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). The Alzheimer's Reading Room contains more than 5,000 articles and has been published daily since July, 2009.

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