You Were More-A true story of Care Management and Alzheimer’s

By Kim Cannan, Care Manager and Advocate 

Your final hours

As I helped you in your final hours on this earth, I always knew you were more than your disease.  Your Alzheimer’s diagnosis came at an early age and was not who you were. When I met you, you were unable to tell me most of your history.  I spent time with you. Listened to you. Observed you. And I knew you were so much more. I learned about the years you struggled with your diagnosis by going through your home, seeing your patterns, and seeing the hundreds of reminder notes you wrote for yourself.  

You gave me the gift of knowing you

I found the articles neatly cut out of the paper about depression and Alzheimer’s disease that you saved and tucked away many years ago. You educated yourself about your diagnosis and looked out for yourself.   You made some key decisions that would benefit you in the years that followed, which took a lot of strength and courage. Despite being afraid of what might come in the weeks, months, years to come, you advocated for yourself in the most important ways.  I learned so much about your vulnerabilities and fears as I made changes that would ultimately benefit your health and safety. Although these changes were some of the biggest in your life, I knew you were so much more. You were intelligent, a teacher, and an editor.  You began to lose your ability to articulate what you wanted to say, or to read as you once did, but you always found a way to smile and say a kind word to someone else. I always felt it was important to meet you where you were at, and by doing this, I knew you were so much more.  You adapted to the changes amidst the confusion and allowed yourself to share your feelings when you needed to. I often told you that I was your “memory” to put your mind at ease when you couldn’t remember where we were going or what we were doing next. You told me “you are a good person” and I returned with a response that so were you.  It was ok if you couldn’t remember my name. Your life came to an end earlier than any of us had expected. It was hard to see you in the end stages of your life because it seemed premature. You gave me the gift of knowing you. I respected and admired you. I was always there to help you, because you were so much more. I stayed by your side through the your hospice stay because I did not want you to be alone.  I talked with you because I knew you could hear me. I told you I was there, and reassured you that everything was ok, and that it was ok to let go. After all, heaven is a beautiful place to go to.

I always knew you were so much more

I never  needed to know every detail of your life to know there was so much more.  The Alzheimer’s disease took so many things from you but not the admiration and love we had for you. It was such a pleasure to know you and to hold the responsibility of helping you through some of life’s biggest challenges.  I know it was difficult but we got through it together. As I held your hand, as you took your last breath, the realization came over me that it was now time for your next journey and that it was the end of our time together. You were so brave during your struggle with Alzheimer’s disease.  I always knew you were so much more.

 

In loving memory

Helen Sharp 6/1/44- 1/20/19

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