Living Proof That Alzheimer’s Can’t Steal Love

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Many times I hear the question: "Are our loved ones (LOs) there, do they know what is going on?"

My mom, Jean DelCampo, was 58 when she came to live with me misdiagnosed with bi-polar disease. Five years later, after 19 days in a psych ward, mom was diagnosed with dementia. Still they are not sure what disease is causing the dementia whether it is FTD, Pick's or Alzheimer's.

It doesn't matter, they just don't know.

Mom chose placement after the rehab stay. It broke my heart but, looking back on it, mom knew she was much sicker than I understood and she did the right thing.

We had many good years together since she was placed in 2005. Her progression was slow but she would have a set back and her condition has advanced consistently.

She is now 72 and in the advanced stages of the disease. She is confined to a wheelchair, has difficulty swallowing...etc.

Mom mostly stares and sleeps, but she can put some words together and knows me. I visit often and she lights up when she sees me. Sometimes she is confused who I am, but I learned to look her in the eye and tell her my name. Her response is, "I'm so happy, I love you, and you are beautiful." She can, to my amazement, recite the Lord's Prayer and remembers many songs from way back when.

Today I was not feeling well, but I stopped in to visit mom. There was a live banjo show, but mom was sleeping. I gently woke her and brought her to a quiet family room they have. She likes it there or in the garden, weather permitting.

I brought her favorite cookies—Fig Newtons—and a Coke. I played her favorite tunes and we sang together.

Out of nowhere, mom said "I am worried about you." I hugged her and reassured her I was okay. Mom has not been able to ask me questions for a long time now. I did not tell her I was not feeling good.

This is not the first time she has surprised me with saying something that mothers often say to their children, out of the blue. It's always something I need to hear.

I had my mom back today just for a moment.

I held back the tears until I got in the car. I miss my mom, but I know that she is there and that she knows what's going on. I believe this is love.

Love is not a memory it's a feeling in the heart and soul, never to be forgotten. This disease can take away almost everything but not the love. Always a mom. I love you mom. ♥


Editor's note: Michele's journey as a caregiver for her mother with Alzheimer's was chronicled in "Fade to Blank: Life Inside Alzheimer's," an in-depth look at the real lives of families impacted by the Alzheimer's epidemic. Her story continues on her personal blog on AgingCare.com.

Growing up in a close family, Michele DeSocio learned about the power of love at a very young age and still maintains that she is happiest when with her loved ones. In 1999, she became caregiver to her mom Jean DelCampo. Michele found her voice as an advocate volunteering for Memory People, an online support and awareness group for dementia.

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13 Comments

Thank you so much for opening up to us - it is always so special to read first hand stories from real life caregivers. Most of all - thank you for helping caregivers like me realize that the loved ones we are caring for care for us as much as we care for them.
As a former 15 year dementia caregiver for my husband, this brought back so many memories and filled my eyes with tears. Michele speaks from her heart...the love will never die. Susan Kiser Scarff
Thank you for your beautiful article! It spoke deeply to me as I am having this same experience with my 57-year-old husband. He can rarely speak in sentences but yesterday when he stated "How come I love you" I knew he was trying to tell me of his love. Love will never leave us...when he can know longer remember, I will be there to remember for both of us. Your mom is blessed as are you!