“Live in hope.”
This saying was offered many times by Mary Moore to her children when she was alive. It’s been more than two years since Mary’s death, but her children today still “live in hope.” They “live in hope” that one day there will be a cure for Alzheimer’s, a disease that slowly plagued their mother in the last years of her life.
Mary’s son Kieran “KC” Moore of Lake Shore and his wife, Kathy, are this year’s honorary chairs for the Alzheimer’s Association Walk to End Alzheimer’s in the Brainerd lakes area. The walk will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, at the Northland Arboretum. This is the fourth year for the walk, which has previously been held at Kiwanis Park. Registration begins at 9 a.m.
The Moores assembled a team called “Team Mary” consisting of family and friends who’ll honor Mary and the many others who have Alzheimer’s by showing their support by taking part in the walk in Brainerd. They also have family members who’ll walk in their own city’s Alzheimer’s walk — as millions of people will take part in the national Alzheimer’s Association walk.
The Moores, along with KC’s brother Tim Moore, also of Lake Shore, took care of their mother for the last year of her life. Mary moved into KC and Kathy’s home after Mary’s husband William passed away in 2009. Both William and Mary died at age 92.
“My dad took care of my mom and when he died we had to make a decision,” said KC. “We’re from a large family of 12 siblings. Tim and I live in Lake Shore, five of my brothers and sisters live in the Twin Cities area and the rest are scattered around Minnesota, Wisconsin and New Mexico.”
KC said the family researched facilities and other options where Mary could live but eventually made the decision that Mary would live with KC and Kathy Moore and that Tim would partner with them to help take care of their mother.
“We (Tim and KC) sold the resort (Lost Lake Lodge) and Kathy and I began working at home so it worked for us to take care of Mom,” said KC. “Our siblings work out of the home and they would have had to hire outside help and wouldn’t have been able to spend as much time with her.
“Tim and I helped Mom for quite a few years before she moved in with us. We took her to doctor appointments and other appointments and helped her out.”
The Moores have three young children — Mary, 9, Nick, 8 and Kristy, 4 — who all helped care for their grandmother while she stayed at their home. Mary said that her grandma would fold the laundry and she’d put it away. Nick said that he’d help his grandma with canning. Kristy was in charge of waking Grandma up in the mornings and bringing her a glass of water.
“It worked for our family to take care of Mary,” said Kathy. “It was a team effort and we all had a job.”
Kathy said what she believes was beneficial with their family taking care of her mother-in-law was that their home was set up for young children and they’re were in the phase of their life of taking care of young children. Kathy said taking care of an elderly person with Alzheimer’s is similar to taking care of young children, such as having to tell a young child to do something more than once. That is what they had to do with Mary as she wouldn’t remember what she was told. Kathy said Mary’s memory was to the point where she couldn’t remember her family’s name, so when they’d approach her each time they had to tell her their names.
“She knew we were family, but she’d forget our names,” said Kathy.
KC said, “She’d ask us ‘Do I have a husband,’ or ‘Why am I here’ and we’d tell her that her husband died and that she was living with us to help us raise the kids ... We began seeing signs of Alzheimer’s about 10 years before her death. It started out slowly where she’d forget where she put her keys or she’d get lost coming home from the grocery store.”
KC said it was tough seeing his mother with Alzheimer’s. However, he said since her memory loss occurred over time that he accepted it before she moved into their home. He said the harder part was adjusting to taking care of his three children and his mother at the same time. He said his youngest, Kristy, was only 1 at the time.
“My mother always changed my diaper and I never thought that one day I would be changing hers,” he said.
The Moores also paid for respite care where someone came in for a few hours each day to help their mother take a bath, getting dressed and other hygiene tasks.
Tim said the biggest challenge of taking care of their mother was that there was no time for family members to have time by themselves. However, he said having everyone work together made the task much easier.
The Moores said the Alzheimer’s Association has a lot of information that is beneficial to families to help them take care of their loved one. The family said taking care of a loved one in one’s home is not for everyone, but it worked for them.
The Moores said they will continue to support the fight of Alzheimer’s and encourage people to take part of the walk that will raise money to provide care and support services to people with Alzheimer’s.
“The walk is one way to increase awareness of the disease and to raise money to help find a cure,” said KC. “There is no cure, but we hope one day there will be.”