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Created on: 02/28/12 08:43 PM Views: 3991 Replies: 4
Kay's video
Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2012 08:43 PM

Some of you may know that I serve on the board of Morningside Ministries here in San Antonio. Kay was recently asked to do a short video for the “Prayers for Caregiver Series” of which is part of Morningside Ministries. We went to their studio recently to record it. I think she did a great job & thought that some of our our classmates might want to see it. Below find a link for your viewing enjoyment!

 Prayers for a Caregiver Series - Kay Gerfers

Edited 04/27/12 03:32 PM
RE: Kay's video
Posted Friday, April 20, 2012 12:32 AM

Kay, I wrote about some of my experiences with Alzheimer's.  I had not seen your video.  I had been playing with my thoughts for several weeks.  We are not alone, maybe someone else can share their thoughts, or need help. I tried to attach my file, but did not see it.  So I will copy and paste. It was a nice video.


I thought that someone might want to share their feelings. Has anyone had a parent with Alzheimer’s? My Mother had Alzheimer's, and she passed Valentine's Day 2011. What a nice day to return home.

Mother was diagnosed around 2000. She started taking medication for the Alzheimer’s several years later. I do not know if the meds helped to slow down the process. I do not know if her memory would have lasted longer if she had started the meds earlier. I know some children get upset over this disease, but I feel this was written into Mother’s life script, so I was not going to question the process.

For 6 months my sister and I shared care responsibility by staying at my Mother’s house. I was there 4 days and my sister 3 days. After 6 months Mother went into Autumn Winds Nursing Home. She was there for 5 years until her death.

Alzheimer’s is a strange disease. There were a few sad times and a few arguments. But when the child tries not to fight the parent’s disease than there can be good/funny memories. The last 4 years when Mother was at Autumn Winds, she could not walk and lived in her wheelchair or bed. My favorite time was getting into bed with her, telling her she was hogging the bed, and just hugging her. For the last 4 years you could barely understand her, and the last year - forget it. I guess she knew what she was saying, but I never did.

Before Mother went into the nursing home I had cut my hair very short. She did not know who I was, and she was there when I had my hair cut! One day she watched me going down the hallway and asked “who was that boy”? The first time she asked I asked her “what boy”? Then it hit me like a brick…I realized that she was talking about me.

There came the day that she did not know my name. She would ask me my name and I would tell her Madelon. She would say no, that is not it. Knowing that I would have to tell her a name she would feel comfortable with, I told her my name was Angel. She responded with “oh yes, now please write down your name and phone number so that I can call and thank you.” There were so many funny things that I could go on and on.

If you ever notice, women with Alzheimer’s do not put down their purses. Mother slept with hers. Mother saw people that were not there, or maybe they were and I could not see them. There were parties in her house. At least Mother was having fun in her Alzheimer’s world. I avoided taking Mother to the grocery store, she wanted everything. And you can not argue with someone with Alzheimer. I Thank God that she had to take a driving test at the age of 87. She flunked, but at least that “mean lady” took her key and I did not have to. But you should have seen the teenager’s expression when Mother sat down next to her to take her test. Talk about a double take.

Getting Mother into a nursing home was another problem. She hated the word nursing home, and I think that was because her neighbor was in one and complained about it. When we started looking at nursing homes I had to tell Mother it was a Hospital Hotel. Again with re-wording what you say. Mother loved to travel - hence Hotel. Mother had respect for Hospitals. It is all in learning how to go around words. Depends were those “new throw away underwear”.

I do miss my Mother. Those last 6 months at her house were nice. I was losing Mother, but I really enjoy this little old lady. Do I regret it? Yes and no. I see elderly people with a quick mind and I wish Mother had not had Alzheimer’s, but no I do not regret it, that is life and that is the way it was suppose to be.

Mother was 94 when she passed. She did not have “quality of life” her last 5 years, but she was released from her prison, and I know she walks with me today.


Edited 04/20/12 05:18 AM
RE: Kay's video
Posted Friday, April 27, 2012 02:21 PM

Madelon, I am so sorry for the late reply. I saw your message, made a note to reply and then promptly forgot it as I got lost in other emails. Also, with my new computer and set up, if I simply highlight an email message, it marks it as "read". So they are easy to overlook. Nevertheless, here I am.

I couldn't open the attachment so I'm glad you copied and pasted. Your experience is a lot like mine. For my dad, we had to have him involuntarily committed which is a story for another time. My mom had Parkinson's and associated dementia. Your story of your mom reminds me of some of the things my mom said to me. Alzheimer's took my dad's language so talking to him was impossible, but Mom was able to communicate well. She always knew who I was, but she called me Kay Armstrong. It was interesting to see how different dementia is from Alzheimer's, at least the way my parents experienced it.

They both lived at the Haven in San Antonio for the last years, Mom for about 2 years and Daddy for less than one. In fact, they were the 10th and 11th residents; it was brand new and a great place for dementia patients. Before we moved them there, I worried about them constantly. They were living in their house; Daddy taking care of Mom. Because my dad was always non-communicative and frequently changed his mind without explanation, it was difficult to recognize his Alzheimer's. However, I had starting helping him with his business affairs. Looking back I can see that I enabled him to continue to live normally. When we realized something was wrong, he was so demented he scored only about 3 or 4 on the cognitive test. I had some guilt about not recognizing it earlier, but I have to remind myself I did what I could at the time.

I could go on and on, but I won't. Thanks for sharing your story about your mom. With two parents with brain disease, I do anything I can to alleviate or avoid getting either Parkinson's or Alzheimer's. But, as you say, sometimes it's just meant to be.


Edited 04/27/12 05:09 PM
RE: Kay's video
Posted Thursday, September 27, 2012 07:20 AM


I have been wanting to reply to your last message, but I wasn’t sure what to say. I did not want to minimize or maximize your experience because that experience can take such a toll on your emotions and physical state. I can’t say I am sorry because that would mean I would be sorry for myself, and I am not going to be sorry for myself. I guess God was showing you that you could deal with the challenges that he gave you, and that you can take those lessons that you learned to help with the work that you and Butch do. We can pass along our mistakes to help others. It sounds like you handled the situation like most of us do, so we can’t belittle ourselves for not doing more. I never went to a support group, but I had friends going through the same situation and the support groups were helpful to them One of those friends did pass on some valuable information. The Mother of that one friend has Alzheimer’s and she is in a nursing home in Boerne, Morningside Manor, Cibolo House. It is a very nice place. A lot of nursing homes have an odor, but the times that I have been there I have not smelled anything. And the staff keeps it clean and uncluttered. Just in case someone is looking at nursing homes. The rooms are private which is nice. Mother shared a room the duration of her stay. When she first went to Autumn Winds she was in a room with 4 residents until they moved her to a room with just one other resident. There was a woman in the first room that kept yelling and I thought my Mother was going to “freak” out. The second room she shared with a lady that was in the same condition as Mother, so it was very quiet. She went through 3 roommates.

I now share with my sister the responsibility of my brother who has Down’s Syndrome. He adjusted very well to my Mother’s decline. When Mother was in her home he had his part in watching over her. We were like you, we probably took to long in deciding to move her to the nursing home. We did not have a problem with him when she went into the nursing home. We were not sure how he was going to react since he had lived his whole life with her. And I think Mother “held” on those last 5 years in the nursing home so that he could adjust. When she passed, he escorted the people to their seats at the funeral, so I guess he was fine. He and I had a lot of discussions of the afterlife, and he watches religious program ALL the time on his tv, plus Mother took him to all the funerals that she went to. Considering her age, it was a lot of funerals. He has adjusted since Mother died. It can be a challenge, and if you have ever been around a person with Downs Syndrome, you can understand. He can be very stubborn. He is 61 and has had a lot of years to decide how he wants things. So, Downs Syndrome is a whole new learning process for me. I may not do everything right, but I try.

If anyone is checking out Nursing Homes in San Antonio, I think that this would be a good site to report on nursing homes. Autumn Winds is an older Nursing home. The staff was very good to Mother. I can not complain since she was there 5 years. While she was there she broke her hip and had a very bad lung infection. They did check on her frequently. I found Autumn Winds to be a comfortable place. There were a few times that I had something to do in San Antonio where I needed to stay the night, and I used to drag my lawn chair with me and spend the night with her. The volunteers were really there for the residents. When Carlos came (Dancing with Carlos) the floor was packed. We all danced.

Again, the Cibolo House is a very nice place with a physical therapy unit on the site. The only fault that I felt was that the staff was not as personable as Autumn Winds. But I told my friend that I would not mind living there. It was clean, and the area was very nice. There are cottages, independent living apartments , nursing home and Alzheimer’s unit. Very peaceful grounds.

A friend of my Mother’s is at St. Francis. She is 99. I went there the other day and was surprised by the “smell”. I never noticed it before. But the recommendation is high. When I used to take my mom to visit her I did not enjoy the activities as much. They seemed bland. But the nuns are nice. This nursing home separates the men and women, which the others do not. St. Francis has taken care of my Mother’s friend for the last 6 or 7 years, so they are doing well.

If anyone is looking for a nursing home, the Medicare website does show inspection results. This is a good place to start when looking. The next step is to visit the nursing homes. Visit them at various times and days.

If I am going to post this, I better stop. Sorry…3 months late.

RE: Kay's video
Posted Wednesday, October 24, 2012 04:48 AM

I also wanted to add the name of a lawyer that we used for Mother.  She really helped us.  Her name is Patricia Sitchler with Schoenbaum, Curphy & Scanlan.  She deals in elder law, estate planning.  She is not cheap, but she is good.  In the near future, my husband and I arem planning to visit with her to discuss estate planning. So if anyone wants to add a good lawyer or estate planner/financial planner, I know I would like a few extra names to interview.