Podcast: Dementia forced me to learn how to love my mother in a whole new way

Diane Atwood's mother

Within months after my father’s death in 2009, we could tell something was wrong with my mother. Before then, we knew she was having trouble with her memory, but we weren’t worried. After all, she was in her mid-80s. And because our dad was seriously ill, most of our attention was on him.

Eventually, a brief test at her doctor’s office showed that she had mild cognitive impairment. Her memory worsened and before long we could see more troubling changes. Confusion, not paying her bills, not eating properly.

She had a more comprehensive evaluation at the Maine Medical Center Geriatric Center and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. Six years after the diagnosis, she still remembers who we are and she’s quite present in the moment.  But, the disease has progressed and it isn’t always easy to communicate with her. Along the way, I’ve encountered more than one difficult moment and with each one, I learned something. Some things, over and over again. I’m still learning.

Because I know firsthand how helpful it is to talk with other people who also have a loved one with Alzheimer’s and other dementias, I sometimes write about my mother. (With her permission.)

This post is an audio version of something I wrote not too long ago — 20 Ways to Love Someone with Dementia. If you are struggling to love someone with dementia, I hope you’ll find at least one thing from my experience that makes yours a little easier. Click on the arrow in the audio player below to hear my story.


Diane Atwood

About Diane Atwood

For more than 20 years, Diane was the health reporter on WCSH 6. Before that, a radiation therapist at Maine Medical Center and after, Manager of Marketing/PR at Mercy Hospital. She now hosts and produces the Catching Health podcast and writes the award-winning blog Catching Health with Diane Atwood.