By Kristi OHarran Herald Columnist
Patty Brovold-Carlyle doesn’t know her daughter is taking a walk in Mom’s honor. Her daughter, Jenifer Phillips, is participating in a Sept. 12 Alzheimer’s Association Memory Walk.
Her mother was diagnosed four years ago, at age 57, with early onset Alzheimer’s disease.
Brovold-Carlyle no longer recognizes her children.
“Going to see her now is really hard,” Phillips said. “Sometimes she thinks I am her cousin. She really has no recollection of who I am.”
Her mother was raised in the Edmonds and Everett area. She raised three daughters mostly on her own. Her memory seemed to be slipping as far back as 15 years ago.
She got lost a few miles from her Marysville home.
“We took her to a specialist, but she denied that anything was wrong with her,” Phillips said. “At the time, she lost her sense of direction and couldn’t find simple things around the house.”
A year and a half ago, the tidy housekeeper let things slip.
“Growing up in my mom’s house, everything had to be meticulous and in its place, and everything had to match in color,” Phillips said. “When I was a child, our beds had to be made as soon as we woke up, or else she would do it.”
Her mother lost her knack for cleaning, fetched holiday decorations from storage out of season and left the gewgaws strewn around the house.
She didn’t shut off lights or flush the toilet.
Violence became a symptom last year. Brovold-Carlyle began forgetting her family, ranting about strangers upstairs and saying she wanted to go home.
She lives in a care center for those with dementia. Due to her continued agitation, the family isn’t able to take her out to lunch or for a Sunday drive.
“Going to see her now is really hard. Having a conversation with her is very difficult. She stumbles over words, and mumbles a lot. Her head is almost always hung low.”
But Phillips will always be her mother’s baby, regardless if Mom knows her or not, she said.
“My husband, Justin, and I got married this year, just in case she wasn’t going to be with us next year,” she said. “She doesn’t remember the wedding at all.”
Phillips remembers her mother as a strong, beautiful woman who cared about her appearance. She raised three girls in hard times and put herself through college.
“I just wish everyone could have known my mom,” Phillips said.
For more information about sponsoring Jenifer Phillips in the Memory Walk, call 800-848-7097. Lisa Schachter, Memory Walk coordinator, will help folks sponsor a walker.
Early-onset Alzheimer’s is diagnosed when symptoms begin before age 65, according to the Mayo Clinic Web site. It’s an uncommon form of dementia. Only 5 percent to 10 percent of people with Alzheimer’s develop early onset symptoms.
The Mayo Clinic offered an eye-opening observation: Early onset is devastating because folks in their 50s may still have teenagers at home or elderly parents that need attention.
Caring for a spouse with Alzheimer’s can simply be too much to handle.
“I really want to raise awareness and money for the cause,” Phillips said. “No one deserves this disease.”
Kristi O’Harran: 425-339-3451, email@example.com.