Couple manages difficulties due to early onset Alzheimer’s

Hendricks County residents, “Mitch and Tessa” were looking forward to retiring together in a few years. Mitch was working full time and enjoying a very successful career. Then a couple of years ago he began making mistakes at work that were so out of character that his boss became alarmed and expressed his concerns to Tessa. She immediately called their family doctor.

The diagnosis was early onset Alzheimer’s. Mitch tried to keep working, but the disease progressed quickly and he was no longer able to perform his job. Tessa continued to work and Mitch stayed home but it was soon clear he could no longer safely stay at home alone.

She thought her only option was to cash out their 401K and leave her job to care for her husband. When she met with their financial planner he advised that she couldn’t retire early if she hoped to have any resources later in life. Tessa was distraught. The financial planner recommended she contact Hendricks County Senior Services (HCSS), a United Way supported agency located in Danville that provides in-home and center-based services and programs for Hendricks County residents age 60+.

At 60, Tessa and Mitch are younger than most HCSS clients. Hesitant at first, Tessa met with agency staff a year ago and together they developed a plan to enroll Mitch in the agency’s Attendant Services program. Tessa knew her husband wouldn’t want “just anybody” coming to their home. It would need to be a man; someone Mitch would see more as a friend than a caregiver.

Scott is the perfect Attendant for Mitch. A retired Marine and an excellent caregiver, the two men spend hours together every week so Tessa can go to work. Scott helps Mitch with daily living tasks such as dressing, personal care, meals and medication reminders. They spend a lot of time just talking and going for drives. Scott keeps Mitch busy and active.

As the disease progresses, Mitch’s needs grow. HCSS continues to support the couple in multiple ways, including advocating for his care with other providers. HCSS is committed to help Tessa continue working and to keeping Mitch at home as long as possible.

Note: United Way brings together compassionate people committed to improving lives in our community. We help Central Indiana residents achieve and maintain self-sufficiency by directing resources toward four key areas of community impact – Education, Income, Health and Basic Needs. Hendricks County Senior Services is one of over 90 United Way funded agencies working to address one or more of these priorities. Since 1981, UWCI has invested more than $3 million in support of their efforts to help older Hendricks County residents live with independence and dignity, with the best quality of life in the home of their choice for as long as possible. The agency’s current Community Fund allocation is $99,585.