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A resident's long battle with Alzheimer's

April 23, 2012
by Kathleen Mears
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Larry (pseudonym) ate in the feed dining room when I came here. Though he was in a geri chair and had to be fed, he ate well and seemed to enjoy meals. He did not speak except for an occasional "Hi.”  I was told he was in his early 60s and had Alzheimer's. 

His wife Melody (pseudonym) explained he was diagnosed with an early onset form in his early 50s. Melody was very engaging, but I could see sadness in her eyes. Many times she talked about Larry's life before Alzheimer's when he and his brother ran a few area nursing homes.

When Larry needed nursing home care, Melody did not want him to live in one of the homes he had run. She was afraid his former employees would feel sorry for him. 

So Larry went to another nursing home. While there, he was still walking and frequently wandered into other rooms, causing problems with the other residents. Because of his behavior management involuntarily discharged him three weeks later. Needing another facility quickly, Melody inquired at this behavior home and Larry was admitted. 

Melody came almost every day to feed him lunch. When she fed Larry in the dining room a couple of us residents chatted with her and enjoyed her company.  

Over his three years here Larry declined. Melody and her adult children felt he had little quality of life. A year ago they put him on hospice. Hospice provided Larry with a different geri chair and bed. His meds were also changed to maximize his comfort. 

Though antibiotics were withheld for infections, Larry continued to survive and kept eating. Clearly, he was not giving up on life quickly. 

Melody began to feed Larry in his room. She wanted to let him stay in bed and spend time with him alone. A couple of us residents missed her company at lunch, and about once a week she stopped in the dining room to say hello.

Larry weakened, became congested, had difficulty swallowing and could no longer enjoy meals. Ten days ago when Larry could no longer swallow, we felt he would not last long. But Melody told me he had more life in him. Larry died the day after Easter at age 66 and Melody was with him. 

We will miss Larry, Melody, their children and friends who brightened our lives. We hope now Melody and her family will find the peace that they are due.

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Kathleen Mears

www.ltlmagazine.com/blog/kathleen-mears

Kathleen Mears has been a nursing home resident in Ohio for 20 years. She is an incomplete...