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Mark Applegate holds him mom Brenda Alexander’s duke while talking about ambidextrous with a admired one who has Alzheimer’s disease. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/Springfield News-Leader)



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This holiday division has been difficult for Pam Gavin — Facebook memories accumulate bustling up, reminding Gavin of how her mother was this time aftermost year.

Gavin’s mom, Brenda Alexander, has Alzheimer’s disease.



“She was still walking and talking and accepting conversations — things we can’t do now,” Gavin said. “It’s a long, actual apathetic goodbye, and I anticipate it absolutely makes it harder through the holidays as you bethink how they were before.”

Brenda has lived in a Greene County nursing home for a little over a year now. She is on auberge care, can’t allege abundant and is bedfast to a wheelchair.



Still, aback the News-Leader visited beforehand this month, Brenda was amidst by admired ones. She was smiling, bedlam and at one point, singing ‘You Are My Sunshine’ with her husband, John Alexander.

“She is loved, and you can acquaint she is at peace,” Alexander said, patting Brenda’s hair. “And that is all we can ask for at this stage.”

Mark Applegate talks about the aftereffect that Alzheimer’s ache has had on his mother Brenda Alexander and associates of the family. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/Springfield News-Leader)

A year or so ago, things weren’t so peaceful for Brenda and her family.

Gavin lives in Kansas City, but alternate to the Ozarks for about nine months in 2018 and 2019 as her mom’s action rapidly declined.

Gavin’s brother, Mark Applegate, lives in Bolivar.

John, Brenda’s bedmate of 21 years and stepdad to Gavin and Applegate, lives in Republic abreast the nursing home.

Brenda’s three caregivers batten with the News-Leader about the challenges of in-person and long-distance caregiving for addition who has Alzheimer’s.

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“She is loved, and you can acquaint she is at accord and that is all we can ask for at this stage.”

When Gavin alternate to the Ozarks in 2018, she, her brother and step-father managed to accumulate Brenda in the home and out of a nursing facility for nine months.

“It was a absolute tag-team effort. Usually, Mark or I would go to their home every evening,” Gavin said. “She was not in a adequate place.”

While she was in the home, they had in-home account aides appear “babysit” so John could go grocery shopping, do some agronomical or aloof accept a break. 

“I took affliction of her. I bathed her. I cut her hair. I fed her,” John said. “It aloof got to be so abundant on me and my step-kids. They encouraged me it was time to move her into a facility.”

“She was accomplishing not adequate things like putting stickers on the walls, putting things in boxes,” John continued. “(She was) disorganizing things that were organized, abashed on what was right.”

Applegate nodded.

Golden years:Taney County brace refuses to let Alzheimer’s get in the way of love

“It was dangerous, too. She was putting things in food,” Applegate said. “(She was) putting things in adeptness outlets.”

Once, she abandoned a scattering of marbles into her drink, John said.

Applegate remembers all the media surrounding kids bistro Tide Pods a few years back.

“She’d apparently put one in her aperture now because it looks pretty,” he said. “It looks like candy.”

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When she aboriginal abashed into the nursing home, Brenda’s ancestors say she absolutely struggled with the transition.

She was not in a wheelchair at that time and advised a flight risk. She spent some time in a “lockdown” allocation of the nursing home. She additionally had to absorb some time in a behavioral bloom hospital while her doctors got her medicines ample out, Applegate said.

“It wasn’t the accountability of the nursing home. They weren’t accomplishing annihilation wrong,” Applegate said. “It was aloof the alteration and the accompaniment she was in the disease.”

She has “sundowners” and spent abundant of her nights pacing aback and forth. She was accident allocation and falling frequently.

Gavin has worked in the medical acreage for added than 20 years and is her mom’s medical adeptness of attorney. The nursing home allegation call her anytime there is an issue, like falling, alike if it’s 3 a.m.

John Alexander, left, and Mark Applegate allocution about the fidget accessory that Brenda Alexander wears. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/Springfield News-Leader)

For a time, there were so abounding of those 3 a.m. calls  — anniversary of which were so alarming because Gavin absurd the worst — Gavin acquainted like she had a bit of post-traumatic accent ataxia every time the buzz rang.

The buzz calls accept aback subsided because Brenda is in a wheelchair and does not abatement as much.

“She went into a nursing home in October of aftermost year. And by May of 2019, she was on hospice. She has had a accelerated decline,” Gavin said.

John and Brenda Alexander met on a dark date in 1998. John had a adolescent from a antecedent marriage; Brenda had three. They anachronous for a year afore tying the knot.

The two lovebirds enjoyed fishing, agronomical and authoritative music together. Brenda is a accomplished pianist. They both adulation to sing actuality music.

John, 72, said affective his admired wife into a nursing home was a big acclimation for him.

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“When you accept a admired one with this situation, you aloof allocution to God and you aloof assignment it out,” he said. “I’m accomplishing fine. I’ve abstruse to adjust. I alive alone, aloof me and my cat.”

John Alexander sings “You are My Sunshine” with his wife Brenda Alexander at the nursing home she lives at in Greene County. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/Springfield News-Leader)

Because he lives so abutting to the nursing home, John has visited Brenda three times a day every distinct day she’s been there.

“When we get affiliated and angle afore a abbot and say for bigger or worse, for richer or poorer, through affection and health, ’til afterlife do us part,” he said, “well, she is sick. But she hasn’t ancient yet. It’s my albatross to be actuality for her. That is what God put on my heart.”

Tips for families: Active with Alzheimer’s, award joy this anniversary season

The agents and physicians apperceive he’s action to be there, and the ancestors wonders if that has annihilation to do with the admirable affliction she is receiving.

“It’s my albatross to be actuality for her. That is what God put on my heart.”

But that’s not the alone acumen why it’s important for Alzheimer’s patients to accept approved visitors, he said.

John durably believes accepting ancestors about her is allowance Brenda feel admired and keeps her alcohol up.

“She knows me. She doesn’t apperceive my name, but she knows my face. She knows I’m her husband,” he said. “She knows I’m a man that comes and loves her three times a day. And I accept to alive with that. I accept to apprentice to adulation her and not be sad.”

“This is their apple now. Out there is over,” he said, pointing out the window. “I accept to acclimate to that, to apprehend I will never take her home.”

Brenda was aboriginal diagnosed with a balmy anatomy of dementia 10 years ago.

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According to her son, Brenda took accomplish to action that diagnosis. She formed crossword puzzles, did brain-games on the computer and absolved a lot. She seemed to get bigger and the ancestors all but forgot about that diagnosis.

Then about two years ago at a ancestors gathering, her daughter asked Brenda to alarm out her first, boilerplate and aftermost name, the way Brenda did aback her daughter was in agitation as a child.

“She couldn’t do it,” Applegate recalled. “That’s how we affectionate of ample it out.”

“I’ll be honest. It bent us all by surprise,” he said.

Because of that, Applegate encourages anybody to apperceive the aboriginal admonishing signs, such as accident of memory, abashing and poor judgment.

Mark Applegate and his mother Brenda Alexander smile at anniversary added at the nursing home she lives at in Greene County. (Photo: Andrew Jansen/Springfield News-Leader)

“If you see any of those things, allocution to your doctor aboriginal enough,” Applegate said. “There are some medicines you can take that will extend the aboriginal allotment of Alzheimer’s.”

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Early apprehension additionally allows families to plan advanced and “get their ducks in a row,” he said. The Alzheimer’s Association offers admonition on acknowledged planning, banking planning, architecture a affliction aggregation and end-of-life planning at alz.org/help-support/i-have-alz/plan-for-your-future.

Gavin, Brenda’s adeptness of attorney, said it’s important for whoever is in allegation of medical affliction and acknowledged affairs to accumulate adequate records.

“I accept one ample book for Mom,” Gavin said. “It has basically all her bloom history, her allowance information, all my auberge contacts (including) the amusing worker, nurse, ablution aid and administration. I accumulate absolutely aggregate for her area I can get to it easily.”

Gavin additionally urges families is to actualize a affliction abutment team.

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“I abnormally await on Mark a lot. I anticipate Mark and John, we all accompany altered strengths to our ancestors affliction team,” she said. “John goes up there three times a day to accomplish abiding she eats. He feeds her. That takes that anguish off Mark and I while we work. Mark and I tag aggregation on aggregate else. We are absolutely adored to accept anniversary other.”

“Build that abutment about yourself. Otherwise it can be appealing depleting.”

If you cannot angular on relatives, acquisition a abutment group, she said.

The Alzheimer’s Association can affix you with in-person and online abutment groups, as able-bodied as the 24/7 Helpline at 800-272-3900. Visit alz.org/help-support/i-have-alz/programs-support.

“Build that abutment about yourself,” Gavin said. “Otherwise it can be appealing depleting.”

Applegate recalled how his mom and John acclimated to go to nursing homes and sing actuality music. She would also play the piano.

It was amazing to watch the association ablaze up aback they would sing, Applegate said.

“(The residents) don’t bethink their own name, but they can sing. They bethink the lyrics,” he said.

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Back in the 1980s, Applegate recalled how his mother advocated for local beastly ascendancy to stop cutting devious animals.

“She got it stopped. Now they euthanize humanely,” Applegate said. “If you knew my mother 20 years ago, she is an apostle at heart.”

John Alexander, right, and Mark Applegate booty Brenda Alexander aback to her allowance at the nursing home she lives at in Greene County.  (Photo: Andrew Jansen/Springfield News-Leader)

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With those memories in mind, Applegate started a blog chronicling his family’s acquaintance with Alzheimer’s.

“She would, I’m certain, be captivated to be bringing acquaintance to advice addition else,” he said.

Find Applegate’s blog at digitalcornbread.com.

Gavin, too, hopes to acquisition a way to use her and her family’s acquaintance to advice others.

“Our abiding ambition for Mark and I both is to be advocates in some way for Alzheimer”s patients afterwards we lose Mom. We apperceive we accept bound time with her. But we see so abounding bodies that don’t accept visitors, abnormally aback in the Alzheimer’s units.”

“Our abiding ambition for Mark and I both is to be advocates in some way for Alzheimer”s patients afterwards we lose Mom,” Gavin said. “We apperceive we accept bound time with her. But we see so abounding bodies that don’t accept visitors, abnormally aback in the Alzheimer’s units.”

“I anticipate they absolutely absence the companionship even admitting they aren’t able to communicate,” Gavin said. “They don’t accept that ancestors affiliate in there action to affliction plan affairs and allowance accomplish decisions.”

Gavin acicular out that there are programs for advance kids like CASA, area they are akin with addition who serves as an apostle for them while they are in advance care. She sees a charge for Alzheimer’s patients, too, “to accept an boilerplate aborigine who aloof cares about them.”

New abstraction suggests: Women may be under-diagnosed for Alzheimer’s, while men over-diagnosed

Learn added about Alzheimer’s ache at alz.org.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, actuality are 10 aboriginal signs and affection of Alzheimer’s:

Read or Share this story: https://www.news-leader.com/story/news/local/ozarks/2019/12/22/family-impact-challenges-advanced-stage-alzheimers-disease-greene-county/2600576001/

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