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William E. Cleary Sr. | CNBNewsnet


We visited a friend in a nursing home last week. She has Alzheimers Disease. Posted on the home's bulletin board was this poem about the terrible illness.

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Our mother suffered with Alzheimer's for five years. We were able to keep her and my dad, who was sick with Parkinson's, at home over that period of time which started in 1988-89. My father George died in 1994 at the age of 81 and my

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Mazie E. Cleary

mother Mazie passed away the following year at the age of 85. We hired a service who supplied a person to live with them taking care of all their needs. At the end of each month a new person would arrive replacing the individual who had been there for the previous month. It wasn't cheap. The money our parents had saved all their lives was used to pay for that service. Someone in the family would always stop daily to check on our parents unannounced.

In the beginning of dad’s illness we noticed he started to fall in the house  every so often. Another time he fell off the front step reaching for the paper. We had no idea that he was in

the early stages of Parkinson’s.  Mom was having more episodes of forgetfulness. We had invited them to our house for Thanksgiving. The doorbell rang and we let mom in. We assumed dad was parking the car. After several minutes I asked mom where was dad. She casually says he fell and is laying on the lawn. We looked outside and there he was flat on his back. Still conscious. The ambulance was called and he was taken to the hospital where after a series of tests we were told he had Parkinson’s. 


Parkinson's disease (PD) is an age-related degenerative disorder of certain brain cells. It mainly affects movements of the body, but other problems, including dementia, may occur. It is not considered a hereditary disease, although a genetic link has been identified in a small number of families, according to (read more)

As sad as it was at times there were some moments during this period that made you laugh. For example, the paid helper would dress our dad each day but if mom didn't like what he was wearing she would undress him and leave him that way.

Jim and George (right) Cleary

At Dad's funeral, Mom would swell up with tears every so often as she sat in front of his casket during the viewing. I thought for that moment she realized that he was dead. When the time came to go home, she said, "To bad George wasn't here this was a great party."

On nice days I would walk mom to nearby Martins Lake. As we set on the park bench she would say,

"You're a nice man."

"Mom, I am your son."

"You're still a nice man."

As mentioned if you didn't find some humor in what was happening to them you would be crying all the time.

The Alzheimer’s Association states that Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, and that more than 5 million Americans are affected by the condition. Additionally, one out of three seniors dies of Alzheimer’s or some other type of dementia. That number will likely increase as the aging population increases.

Scientists have been researching Alzheimer’s for decades, but still there is no cure. There is a hereditary component to Alzheimer’s. People whose parents or siblings have the disease are at a slightly higher risk of developing the condition. However, we’re still a long way states the Alzheimers Association from understanding the genetic mutations that lead to the actual development of the disease.  More information here.

I asked a doctor treating my mother what was one of the signs that you or someone you know was on the verge of getting Alzheimers.  He said, "We all lose our keys. You need to worry when you forget what the keys are for." 

How scientific that reasoning is I don't know but it makes sense. I would think though by the time you forget what the keys were for it would be too late.

Like everyone else our age we have had our share of aunts, uncles, and friends who are living in nursing homes. Some years ago we started visiting these institutions with our therapy dogs, Lacey, and Erica, both Labradors who are now deceased. They have  been replaced by Peyton, who is also a Lab. We noticed as you

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walk the hallways of some of these institutions there are patients slumped over in wheelchairs fast asleep. There are others who are confined to their rooms alone sleeping or watching the television. You don't see many people reading.  Some of the patients can be found in the day rooms playing games or sitting in a chair doing stretching exercises. There never seems to be enough caregivers to take care of all the patients. You don't see many people visiting the patients either. 

Many decades ago families took grandma and grandpa to live with them. But, today the majority of families have no one home to be with the frail, and sickly individuals. As such the only choice it seems is warehouse them in long-term facilities.

God Bless the people who care for Alzheimers patients and other patients with debilitating illnesses. They have a tough, thankless job. No doubt they have the patience of Job, the biblical figure whose absolute faith in God remained unshaken despite the numerous afflictions set upon himself, his family and his estate by Satan.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are approximately 15,600 nursing homes in the United States with 1.7 million licensed beds, occupied by 1.4 million patients. The primary advantage to nursing home care is that patients have access to skilled care 24/7.

The average stay in a nursing home is 835 days, according to the National Care Planning Council. (For residents who have been discharged, which includes many who have received short-term rehab care, the average stay in a nursing home is 270 days.)

According to Genworth's Cost of Care Survey, on average in the United States, a private room in a nursing home costs $8,365 per month, or $275 a day. For a semi-private room, the average cost of a nursing home is $7,441 per month, or $245 a day. Multiple factors affect the overall cost of a nursing home stay. Some of these factors include location, length of stay and care services required.

The costs of 24-hour care in a nursing facility is very expensive. Below is a breakdown of the 11 highest states. The fees shown are for a month.

Screen Shot 2019-10-14 at 19.43.04Find the full list here

Whoever coined the phrase "It ain't easy getting old", sure knew what they were talking about. 


The Camden County Board of Freeholders is sponsoring a Self-Care for the Caregiver Conference on Wednesday, October 23 from 5:30 PM to 8:30 PM at the Camden County Boathouse, Cooper River, Pennsauken. You will learn about important services available to you and your loved ones as well as self-care practices. If you are responsible for a senior, you will learn about important services to assist you and your loved ones with these concerns, as well as how to take care of yourself.  For more information call ADRC 856-858-3220.



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