Heather - Mom, wife and carepartner
Heather is an amazing care partner and wife to her husband Kevin with younger onset Alzheimer’s. Not only is she an advocate for Kevin’s care, but she is also a LOVE mother to their four children. This journey has been unexpected and unpredictable, but Heather remains steadfast in supporting the family and “letting kids be kids.”
Kevin’s Alzheimer’s diagnosis in his 40's was completed unexpected. “We were totally blown away,” Heather said. “I thought maybe worst-case scenario a tumor, depression; they all mimic similar symptoms. Never in our wildest dreams did we suspect Alzheimer’s. There’s no history in his family, so it wasn’t even on our radar.” Kevin, always community and family focused, was also the women’s basketball coach at Berkeley, University of Washington, Georgia Tech and lastly San Diego State University where Heather graduated from. "We were very thankful we got to go home!" Explained Heather.
Heather and Kevin have the additional challenge of having young children. The children understand that Dad can’t work because of his Alzheimer’s and Mom can’t work because she is caring for Dad. The children’s fear of becoming homeless is real.
When you’re a full time caregiver and Mom, there is little time or money left for the good stuff. Heather has been stretching the CTFC grant out to give her children the gift of being kids. They hired in-home care for Kevin and took the kids to Lego Land.
At the end of the day, Heather’s 8 year old said to her, “Mom, today was almost perfect, but I’m sad Dad wasn’t there but I guess we have to get used to it.” Heather explained to her 8 year old that these fun things for us are a little scary for dad now. He agreed and said, “yes, we don’t want to trigger him. “It broke my heart that my 8 year old admits that he has to get used to doing life without dad there.”
She was able to also have 1-on-1 time with her eldest - often lost in the mix between having triplet siblings and being the oldest and therefore most responsible to help with Dad. “I’m taking Jayce to Disneyland for his first time ever on Friday thanks to your grant and letting him enjoy being a kid! Just me and him! I will tackle the triplets another time! I appreciate this so much, the kids are getting to do things on their family bucket list.”
With young dementia also comes the lack of understanding and constant explanation to the public/professionals. When Kevin ended up in the emergency room and because the disease has taken away his ability to communicate, the nurses and doctors did not understand how to care for Kevin. They shouted as if he was deaf. Kevin flared his arms, not understanding as the medical professionals poked and prodded. It took 4 staff and Heather to get through all the tests. This is just one day.
Heather is focused on giving Kevin everything she can, but she is also fighting to focus on her own health and her kids health. Heather states “I would love to focus on my own health and relationship with each child individually.”
May 10th Update: It is with a heavy heart we inform you Kevin is at peace. Heather, the children and their friends and family will cherish his memories forever. You are not forgotten, Kevin.
Learn more about Care for the Caregivers
Pointing the Way and Offering a Helping Hand
"I was able to address my own health that I had been neglecting"
"I can go to church and monthly support group and know my mom is taken care of."
"I can take my husband to see his family one final time while he still can remember them"