On Hatteberg’s People, during this time when we celebrate our mothers, it is never easy when your mother has Alzheimer’s. In Kingman, Kansas, Karen & Nick Lacio made the decision to care for Karen’s mother, even though both have full-time jobs, plus own a downtown business. For them, caring for an Alzheimer’s patient means that person becomes part of their everyday life and even part of their work.
“You have to keep in mind that you are dealing with a 135 to 145 pound infant. So, there is something up there at times, but what…who knows?”
In downtown Kingman, Kansas its business as usual on this day, but at a clothing store called Erin’s, customers are sometimes startled to see 82-year- old Alzheimer patient Nettie Ochsner asleep in a big chair among the racks of clothing and stylish fashions.
“Friends that come in here always kind of gravitate to her and I kind of watch them at times because they will always talk to her knowing that they are not going to get an answer.”
Karen & Nick Lacio own the store. Nettie is Karen’s mother.
“It’s lunch time. There you go…good job.”
At noon, Karen comes to pick her mother up to take her home for lunch.
“You just do it. It’s the thing to do. They took care of us and now it is our turn to take care of them. They are in good health, like mother is in very good health. It’s just her mind and she has this now for about 12 years.”
“We feel that we still have her, we still interact with her, it hasn’t been a hardship.”
“Oh yes, you are doing a good job. No, I don’t want it, that is yours.”
“If you are going to do something like this you have to take the whole family into consideration.”
“At night I usually sit here for about an hour. It takes about an hour for her to eat.”
“I know every night before she goes to sleep, after I put her in bed we always say the Lord’s Prayer. She’ll look at me and sometimes she smiles. You just feel like she really understands, and really remembers that prayer.”
In the early afternoon Nettie stays home, with Rosemary Latham, with the Kingman County Council on Aging. Rosemary gives the Lacio’s a break until Karen takes Nettie back to the store in the late afternoon and works till closing.
“Like I said, you just do it. You want to do it. It wouldn’t work for everybody, but it is working well for us.”
Larry’s Tag – Karen is also a speech therapist in Kingman schools, and Nick is an X-ray technician at the hospital, all that in addition to running the clothing store. Both say that without the help from the Kingman County Council on Aging, keeping Nettie at home might not be possible.