Why I Walk: Doris’s Story

Hi Everyone, I have been hearing some great stories about why people Walk and I wanted to share another one with you. This one comes from Doris, who walks in our Walnut Creek Walk to End Alzheimer’s. She is passionate about this cause, and I think you’ll understand why after reading about her experience!

My mother was first diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2007; she was only 58 years old at the time. My father and I were her main caregivers until December of 2012 when my mother was moved to an assisted living facility.

Mom getting ready for a Raiders game in 2009, two years before diagnosis.

Mom getting ready for a Raiders game in 2009, two years after diagnosis.

The biggest challenge for our family was my mother’s denial of her disease and her aggression. She constantly fought the care we attempted to provide and would say that we all exaggerated her symptoms to make her seem worse than she was. So for the first five years, my father lived with my mother and we all attempted to manage her behavior the best we could.

Unfortunately, things spiraled out of my father’s control in October of 2012 when medical professionals realized we could no longer manage her at home.

She was admitted to the hospital where it took almost two months and many, many traumatic incidents to get my mother stabilized and manageable. She made six breakout attempts while hospitalized and having to see her manhandled and injected like she was crazy was beyond heart breaking. It was the worst thing I have experienced so far in life. My mother would cry, reach out for me and beg me to help her and all I could do was walk away and trust that the medical professionals would take the best care of her. Finally, in December 2012, my mother was transferred to the assisted living facility where she resides today.

My family on my wedding day. From left to right: Marcos (my brother), Mirtha (my mom), Ryan (my husband), me and Fred (my dad, a.k.a Pop).

My family on my wedding day. From left to right: Marcos (my brother), Mirtha (my mom), Ryan (my husband), me and Fred (my dad, a.k.a Pop).

The most rewarding part of this whole experience is growing closer to my parents and husband. My mother and I never had a great relationship, but going through this traumatizing experience with her has made forget all the negative feelings I had towards her. I feel closer to my mother now than I ever have. I am so thankful that she is safe, at peace and I am able to provide her care, support and love.

I have always had a very close relationship with my father, but caring for him and my mother during this life crisis has brought us even closer. My father continues to struggle with the loss of his wife every day. He knows the assisted living facility is the best place for my mother but still feels like he failed her as a husband and misses her terribly all the time. I am happy that I am able to provide my father support and companionship. He spent his entire life taking care of us and it feels good to be able to care for him now.

My husband Ryan and I grew closer throughout this experience too. I couldn’t have asked for a better partner/companion in life. My husband is there for whatever I need (i.e. a shoulder to cry on, a ride, a sounding board to vent or cry) and never complains about it. I don’t know if I would have made it through the crisis last year without him and feel truly blessed to still have his support every day.

– Doris 

Donate to Doris’s Walk team: Mirtha’s Mob Squad

Or register for Walk today: Walk to End Alzheimer’s