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Woman shares story caring for mom with Alzheimer's

Woman shares story caring for mom with Alzheimer's

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - News of Broncos owner Pat Bowlen giving up control of the team to battle Alzheimer's disease is hitting close to home for those whose loved ones battled or are battling with the disease.

Alzheimer's is a disease of the brain that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior, according to the Alzheimer's Association. It is the most common type of dementia.

Terri Glaude lost her mother to Alzheimer's disease 10 years ago. She was diagnosed when she was in her 60's. She died when she was 73.

"It was almost like not believing it," Glaude said. "No way, this couldn't be happening. It was a new word, we couldn't understand it. We had to do a lot of looking up to figure out what it meant, and the more we looked it up, the more horrified we were that it wasn't something that we were going to get over. And it wasn't something we were going get her past quickly. "

Glaude remembers her mother before Alzheimer's disease.

"My mother was a big woman. She admitted to 250 pounds, but I'll bet she was closer to 300 pounds," she said. "But she had as big a personality as she had a body. She didn't ever not laugh. She always was a bigger than life personality."

Once the Alzheimer's disease symptoms began to show, things were different. Some of the most common symptoms are loss of memory, reason, judgment and language skills. There can even be a change in personality.

"My mom wandered. She walked out of the house in the middle of the day. She didn't understand what her safety was, and she sure didn't understand what others' safety was. She forgot her name, you could call her, she wouldn't know that you were calling her. She didn't know her name," Glaude said. "I used to call it, 'Who's living in my mom's body today?' Because we went through several different personalities. We went from my mother, to angry woman, to funny woman, to silent woman."

Glaude said being a caretaker is probably more difficult than being a patient. She became her mother's caretaker once her father passed away. She couldn't do it alone, and placed her mom in an assisted living facility. There, she spent every evening with her, feeding her, bathing her and putting her to bed.

"The patient, at a point, comes to where they don't understand their surroundings, but the caretaker always knows that the person they love is leaving," she said. "They call it a long goodbye because the person actually leaves long before they actually die."

Her best advice for takers is to seek help and talk to others. One resource in Southern Colorado is the Alzheimer's Association. It offers support, education, training, a 24-hour helpline and safety programs. It is hosting a walk in September to raise money for research and to help families. You can find more information here.

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