CATELYN CAPPLEMAN FOX, CARETAKER
I was finishing up college 3 hours from home, and couldn’t help but notice something just seemed off with my mom. She became increasingly frustrated and had difficulty juggling things that a super mom of 4 had been a pro at for years. Doctors misdiagnosed it as depression, but things just weren’t adding up.
I finally knew we were dealing with something major when my mom got lost on the way to my college graduation. We were on the phone and I was trying to get her back on track, but all she could tell me was that she was by a McDonald’s and a gas station. Of course that narrows it down to just about every major intersection, so I drove around San Antonio for an hour until I found her. She was confused, scared, and embarrassed. But looking back on that day, I think she felt relieved to finally let her guard down and have someone step in so she didn’t have to do it all anymore. We took her to a new doctor and I’ll never forget the day we found out the true diagnosis: Alzheimer’s disease. My heart sunk and panic set in. How could this be happening? Isn’t this a disease that only impacts the elderly? What do we do now?
Over the next few months, we moved to Dallas and began navigating the immensely complicated medical, legal, financial, and mental aspects of caring for someone with Alzheimer’s. It was a challenging transition for both of us as we swapped roles – I was now the parent and she was the child. We had to take her car away, pack up the house, and move cities. Everything that she knew – friends, family, our childhood home, and her entire safety net were ripped out from underneath her. She was traumatized and felt deep pain and guilt that her baby girl had to take on so much at such a young age.
Looking back on it, I truly don’t know how we got through it, but we did it one day at a time and had some of the best supporters along the way. In some of my darkest and most challenging moments, my mom was the one who comforted me. I’ll never forget her strength, positive attitude, and unwavering trust in me to do the right thing. She believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. At her lowest moment, she was still being a mom- it’s what she was born to do.