These ladies do not let their dementia diagnosis stop them from enjoying quality time with friends and family.
Betsy Groves, a 73-year-old Massachusetts resident has been preparing for the holiday tradition as usual. She has always planned for Thanksgiving and cooked for her husband, children, and grandchildren for years. Despite getting diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, Betsy was determined to continue her family tradition meticulously. However, because of her declining cognitive abilities, Groves has handed over the Christmas responsibilities to her husband and their children for a change. “It was hard letting go and letting others supervise. It takes a lot of planning, and I wasn’t up for the task,” she told TODAY.
“There was a piece of loss for me about recognizing that these are one of the skills or the traditions that I need to let go of or really can’t do anymore as competently,” Groves said as per Fortune. Groves, who used to teach courses on early childhood mental health and development at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, started noticing cognitive changes in her late 60s and shared her worries with her physician who told her not to worry. “I felt I was not as sharp and on my toes in classroom discussions, and I started becoming anxious as I was preparing my lectures,” she recalled.
Even though Betsy was assured by her doctor that there was nothing to worry about, she still felt something was off.“ She reminded me that memory loss was a normal part of aging and assured me that my years of higher education would help protect me from cognitive decline.” After talking to a friend in the medical field, she went to get a neuropsychological evaluation and the results indicated that she might have Alzheimer’s disease. Betsy’s worst fear came true and she was overwhelmed with the thoughts of sharing her diagnosis news with her family. “Being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s was my worst fear. I was worried that my diagnosis would change how people saw me and how they treated me,” she admitted.
Betsy turned to Alzheimer’s Association for guidance and managed to find the right kind of support system.“It was a major eye opener to see my name removed from long-standing legal documents that we had in place for our future,” she said. Groves ended up becoming a member of the National Early-Stage Advisory Group where she met 62-year-old Reda Harrison who was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) four years ago. Harrison also loved to take charge of the holiday means but then she started facing problems with her organizational skills. “It’s hard for me to plan and get everything cooked at the same time like I used to. My husband’s helping and my children are bringing the rest of the meal,” Harrison said.
Shifting responsibilities in the household took some time for both women to adjust to. “My family is happy to assist,” Reda admitted. “Because of my lack of organizational skills, I also had to quit my job at the University of Kentucky.”
Retirement hasn’t slowed her down. In fact, she’s training her She finally retired in 2021 but that did not slow her down as she started training her standard poodle named Dolly. “Despite my diagnosis, I’m happier now than I’ve ever been,” she added.
Cover Image Source: Today/YouTube