This is my best buddy M.A.
I have worked with her 24 years now. We are the same age! So she likes to tell everyone how old I am!! I made her the sweatshirt she is wearing, it says "Camping Woman".
M.A. used to love going camping with us. Now she struggles to leave the house. Transitioning from house to camping is hard for her.
Six of the years I have worked with her she had her own apartment. I would call and visit her daily to make sure she was o.k. I took her grocery shopping and taught her independent living skills at her apartment. She did very well. The only problem we had were some of her mentally ill neighbors wanting to take advantage of her.
I had taught her Independent living skills before she moved into her own apartment; while she lived in our group home. She loved to learn things and was always eager to please. She was a very hard worker. She often had 2 jobs and sometimes volunteered at the Library. She loves books. Around age 40 she started slowing down. Her health also started causing some problems. Mostly arthritis and leg clots and infections in her legs.
She moved back into our group home when she was 38. She wasn't able to learn new things anymore and was slowing down quickly. It was hard to watch her personality change so much. She developed her own agenda. She lost the ability to tell time. Others may have thought she was being un-cooperative. But she just decided that she had more important things to do. Getting set in her ways. She started sleeping less at night and more in the day. And she started shrinking into a little old lady.
M.A. had a roommate in our group home who was 1 year younger than us. She too had Down Syndrome. She was lower functioning. We adored her. She lived with us for 16 wonderful years before dying from Alzheimer's at 44 years young. Her name was Susie. We miss her every day.
M.A. and Susie started one of the new Alzheimer drugs, but they both became increasingly agitated on it. So we stopped it. Then a few years later after Susie died, M.A. was put on another new Alzheimer drug. This one had an un-known side effect of weight loss!! After realizing she lost 50 pounds- I ran her to the Emergency Room, only to learn it was a side effect of the drug!
So far I would say that this drug has helped alot! After being on it a few years some of her humor has returned!! Before we noticed her becoming very quiet.
We did learn a frightening thing about these medications at a medication training from a Psychiatrist. They warned that taking people off of these Alzheimers meds could kill them within days! So when the pharmacy told us they were changing her med and giving her a generic, I worried. Thank the Lord the generic was re-called after only a few days! I don't dare ask why.
M.A. is a gift from God in my life. I love her more than words can say. She has taught me so much about faith and love and life. Often at 3 or 4 or 5 a.m you can find M.A. sitting on her bed reading her story bible. And she prays for me too! Can you imagine how sweet her prayers must sound to God. She has the beautiful pure faith of a child.
I thank God for her in my life every day!