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Not Always So Peachy | Alzheimer’s in the First Person | Barbara Taylor Vaughan and Melissa Vaughan
My name is Melissa, I am Barbara’s daughter. We are writing this note together today. We need to make sure everyone realizes that our life is not a big love fest everyday. We are mother and daughter, even though my mother has Alzheimer’s, and I have MS, we are still mother and daughter. We live in the same house, and we argue, just like all mothers and daughters. Some people have gotten the idea that ours is a perfect relationship…it is not, it is something that we are still working on.
Being a caregiver to my mother is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. There are days that we have so much fun, and talk and remember, we go volunteer, or just go sit and watch the river. Other days are full of yelling, screaming and being sick. There are days that I am so sick with MS that I can not get mom dressed and we both wear our pajamas all day. There are days we get dressed up and go visit friends. There are days that she knows me, some days she doesn’t. We go day by day around here.
The last 6 months have been very difficult for me, not only having MS, but the financial responsibility of caring for my mother. I no longer work, I stopped to care for her, and now with my mounting medical bills, I am going to have to go back to work. I cannot afford to have someone come in and care for her, so we have been talking about nursing homes. I do not want that, mom doesn’t want that. Mike doesn’t want that. We have checked into day care for the elderly, but since she can not go to the bathroom by herself she doesn’t qualify.
Caregiving is a lonely, lonely job…friends, family, stop calling or coming by…compounded with the MS…it has been very hard to deal with. People want to help, but it is hard to call someone at 2 in the morning and say, “O.K, I need help now…I haven’t slept in the last 24 hours…” We both just want everyone to know that we love each other very much, that Alzheimer’s is a disease that not only disrupts the life of the patient, but the family and friends. MS is a disease that I think the devil invented…it gives you the appearance that you are fine…but the pain is so severe, the depression and all the side effects are just so terrible to explain.
We thank you for going on the journey with us…but please realize we are not angels, only human. We will and do make mistakes. We are making up rules and as we go. If you know someone with Alzheimer’s, or you know someone with MS…reach out…reach out to them and to their caregiver…just a card to say…hey hang in there, or if you are a family member a thank you sometimes would mean everything…thank you all for your support…day by day.
–Missy and Barbie
___________________________________About the Author: Melissa Vaughan is caring for her mother, Barbara Taylor Vaughan, contributor of the Nurse Talk column, Alzheimer's in the First Person, a journey through the disease. Melissa worked for an orthopedic surgeon for over 30 years, as a CMA and then LPN. On her way to her RN degree, Melissa dropped out to take care of Barbara after brain surgery. She eventually obtained a paralegal certification and worked reviewing records for medical malpractice cases. She retired 4 years ago due to Multiple Sclerosis and to care for her mom at home. We love them and thank them for their humanity and generosity of spirit.
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Alzheimer’s in the First Person
Barbara Taylor Vaughan is 90 and in the early stages of Alzheimer's. Barbara and Melissa Vaughan are putting a face on the disease by chronicling Barbara's illness. Melissa, living with Multiple Sclerosis, is Barbara's daughter and caregiver.
They hope educating others will inspire them to volunteer to help ease the suffering of those with the disease, thier families and caregivers. Barbara and Melissa's relationship, compassion and humor are inspirational.
We love them and thank them for their humanity and generosity of spirit.
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