Helping The Helpless: One Family's Story

Our series on "Aging in the Shadows"continues to get a lot of response, some quite poignant, like the following e-mail from one viewer:
I would love to see some type of informational segment on early onset dementia.

The reason I say this is I have a sister who was diagnosed with early onset dementia at a very early age of 51. Isn't that awful? She was in corporate management for 25 years and is now living in a care facility, hardly remembering how to put a stocking on.

We have struggled with my sister's change of life pattern as a family - working through all the initial stages and then the financial stages and then the "intervention", which is essentially what we did to get her placed in her care center. My parents, ages 76 and 80, had been handling my sister's life for the past 5 years – the day of the intervention was a day no parent should ever have to go through, a struggle beyond struggles. We went to my sister's home, my parents and I, and proceeded to tell her we're moving and she's going to where she will be safe. She disagreed of course. But the awesome thing was, my parents and I, we just kept moving forward knowing this is the right thing - we just said, "We're doing this." We got her packed, took her and admitted her, and then as we're leaving was the heartbreak of all heartbreaks -- my parents broke down in tears, crying and crumbling before me. We worked through that and all the ups and downs since then. My parents today are again strong, loving, vibrant and beautiful people. They care for each of us in their own way, and they made it through the worst part of all of this and so did we as a family.

My sister is still living, is in the care center, safe, cared for minute by minute - which is what dementia people need. And all the while, her family is behind the scenes, taking care of the financial and personal details of her life. And she doesn't even know and we don't even blink an eye to do it. We just do.

If this has happened to us, I would assume that there are other people that are struggling and coping through the same situation.

Thanks for listening.