Mother's Day: The blessing and challenge of caring for mom with Alzheimer's

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Kathleen Scovel can talk for hours about her mother, Terry. She shares stories about the childhood she and her brother had in Minnesota, the jobs their mom worked, and the inspiration her mother has been in her life.

"She was always a people person, she’s always been the person who makes you feel good, her kindness goes through and through," Kathleen said.

The pair share a special bond. For the last few years, Kathleen has been giving back to the woman who gave her everything.

“She’s been my mom, now I kinda get to be her mom,” she said. “She needs the help right now, she needs to feel safe, to feel warm, and loved, and have kindness come to her."

About six years ago, Terry was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

There is no cure for the progressive brain disorder, and at 85, Terry is slowly losing her memory and thinking skills.

"You as a whole, slowly watch someone disappear, so you have to figure out how to help pull them back out,” said Kathleen.  “That’s really important."

Terry may not remember what she had for breakfast, but working as a team, Kathleen, her dad Jerry, and nurse Rita try every day to connect with her and get Terry's mind moving.

They play games, look through photo albums, listen to music, Kathleen even tells Terry stories about her own life.

With Alzheimer’s disease, there's no clear road map, and it can be a difficult journey. It is a long goodbye the Scovel Family shares with the loved ones of the 5.8-million Americans living with the disease. Here in the sunshine state, an estimated 540,000 residents are diagnosed.

"She's in there, her spirit's in there, and she's a little fighter,” Kathleen said. “As a team, we can fight for her, but she’s fighting for herself too, she truly is."

Every moment they spend together is priceless - so every day is Mother's Day.

The Alzheimer's Association has a 24-hour helpline anyone can call for support or information. Just dial 1-800-272-3900.