Alzheimer’s Rocked Their World; CICOA is Helping Them Stick Together

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Theirs is a story of love that began with a bank deposit. Several bank deposits, really.

In the 1980s, Mike worked for an electronics company in Lawrence. He also owned a wrecker business and had a small electronics shop in his house. He’d stop by Merchant’s Bank in Esquire Plaza off Pendleton Pike three times a week to deposit checks, where he met a pretty bank teller he called “good lookin’.”

One day, Mike went to the bank all dressed up, not in his usual work attire.

“You look formal today,” the pretty bank teller observed.

“Well, I’ve been having a hard time finding a nice girl,” he said.

“I’m having a hard time finding a nice guy,” she replied.

They had  lunch together the next day. Thirty minutes into their date, Mike admitted he didn’t even know her name. The lunch date led to a movie, to see Smokey and the Bandit. Mike wore a three-piece suit. Over the next few weeks, he learned more than her name. He learned that Lana was from Evansville, her parents owned a small cattle ranch, that she was divorced, five years older than him, and she loved to hike. She was smart and fun.

Mike proposed five weeks later. They were married on Valentine’s Day in 1981.

Mike and Lana never had kids of their own, but their Southport neighbors considered them adopted grandparents. Kids played baseball in their yard. Mike and Lana organized games and neighborhood camping trips. The kid with the best grades often got to pick the campsite. The couple spent time together remodeling their home, and every year they’d go to the Covered Bridge Festival in Parke County.

Life was good.

Then about 15 years ago, after Lana retired from her 30-year-career in banking, Mike noticed she wasn’t herself. It started with little things, like the meals she cooked didn’t seem right. She began forgetting things. It was all the signs of Alzheimer’s, a disease Lana’s mother and grandmother both had.

Getting in-home support for his wife with Alzheimer’s

Mike’s a proud guy; someone who figures out stuff on his own. The Navy taught him mental discipline, and he grew up with the mantra that you just deal with whatever curveballs life throws your way.

“You’ve got to pull yourself up by your bootstraps and keep walking,” he said.

But the love of his life was struggling, and they were racking up credit card bills to pay for supplies she needed, like adult diapers. While she was deteriorating mentally, his physical health was suffering. He asked her doctors if there was help available, but he didn’t find answers. One day, when he took Lana to a new neurologist, a nurse gave him a booklet with a page earmarked to information about CICOA Aging & In-Home Solutions. He called that day.

Life still isn’t easy, but it’s a whole lot better with someone by your side.

Lana now has a care manager. An aide comes to the house to help during the week, and CICOA sourced a lift chair and walker, so Lana can maneuver around their home. A bathroom modification made it more accessible for her, and she also gets meals delivered and nutritional supplements.

Watching the love of your life deteriorate is heart-wrenching. Mike says mornings are the worst time of day because he never knows what will await him when he opens the door to Lana’s room.

“I pray a lot,” he says. “Every day. And, I thank God for CICOA.”

When you want to keep your loved one at home, CICOA will be by your side with the answers and support you need. A gift today helps couples like Mike and Lana stay together and receive needed services at home.

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