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Home Means… The Guiding Light for an Alzheimer’s Disease Caregiver

If you’re reading this you more than likely know someone who is living with, or caring for someone, with Alzheimer’s disease. In fact, 16.1 million Americans, like northern Nevadan Cathy Maupin, provide unpaid care for a loved one who has the disease. Cathy’s world changed in 1997 when she became a caregiver for her mother.

“For the first ten years I took care of her. I’d be there a couple hours a day, taking her to lunch, doing laundry, going to church, normal things,” said Cathy. “But as the disease progressed, our time together increased. She really needed help with basic functions of life, to the point where I stood back and thought ‘she can’t remember how to turn water off or how to flush the toilet.”

It was then that Cathy decided it was best for her mother to be in a memory care facility, and she moved to one in Gardnerville in 2006. “It was fabulous. They were really dementia friendly there. They had fun activities year-round. For her, she never felt like she was doing anything wrong because they were so in-tune with her,” Cathy recalls.

But everything changed when her mother fractured her hip in 2009, causing her to move to the skilled nursing facility she currently resides at. Cathy says her mother has not been able to return to a memory care facility because of her level of care is extraordinarily high. However, through all of this, the Alzheimer’s Association has continued to be the guiding light helping her through.

“I found the Alzheimer’s Association twelve years ago. I began attending a Support Group and am honored to have become a volunteer, an advocate, and an Ambassador,” Cathy said. “I have had experiences and opportunities one can only dream about. I have shared stories and tears with Nevada State Legislators, and talked to them about the importance of increased research funding.”

While the past 21 years have been filled with confusion, heartbreak and exhaustion, Cathy looks at this year as a milestone, cherishing every moment. “It has been an amazing journey. It’s not all sad. I’ve met incredible people in my support group who are so selfless. I feel like I’m surrounded by angels. And there are so many people who advocated. It really has been an amazing journey.”

As for her mom, Cathy says she’s doing great and has a lot more life to live. “My mom is 95 years old. I think she’ll make it to 100. They said when I moved her to the facility she had a 50/50 chance of survival from her fractured hip. But she’s just fine and still as cute as can be.”

The Walk to End Alzheimer’s Reno/Sparks, happening on Saturday, September 22, is focused on raising money and awareness for Alzheimer’s research and resources. It’s a way for those living with, caring for and supporting someone with the disease to rally together and know they are not alone. Register your team today at alz.org.

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