the path of Alzheimer’s destruction

Alzheimer’s is a disease you hear about on commercials. Often you giggle at the forgetfulness portrayed and it seems somewhat lighthearted. It’s something you can’t describe until it riddles your family. That is what I am here to discuss.

My Dad, Wayne Housand, is who gave me my musical talents. He married my mother when I was 3 years old and was a local rocker with aspirations of “hitting it big” in his young life, long before I was born. He was a handsome, skinny, Marlboro Reds smoking, Budweiser drinking, self-proclaimed redneck, who always rocked a mustache and always wore a black cowboy hat. “Outlaw country” was how he would decribe it back then. He pressed vinyl singles with songs he wrote, called “On My Way To Nashville”, and his longest running band, ‘Copper Creek’, was the sound of my young life. My mother still tells stories of how I used to fall asleep in front of the sidefills back stage while they were playing.

Wayne gave me a musical voice and I knew that his talent was to be respected. I don’t remember exactly when his life was changed by religion, but he was better for it. I assume I was too young to understand what that meant. But when he “found Jesus” and he and my mother started a southern gospel band called ‘Restoration’, I was coming of age at churches every Saturday and Sunday. Sooner or later, I would be sitting behind a drumset playing with them. A family band. Lost in this day and age, but we did it. I recorded my first record with my mother and Wayne. I think that’s what makes this so heartbreaking.

Wayne is in stage 7 of 8 in this nightmare, Dementia brought on by late stages of Alzheimer’s disease. He barely remembers me or my mother, if only in glimpses. We have tried to find affordable “round the clock care”, but under the the guidelines of his insurance, we can not afford it. My mother is not allowed to make extra income over her spousal protection and she still has to come up with over $200.00 a month for his bed, at a less than adequate nursing home 45 minutes from home.

This man who used to be able to play any instrument now can’t make a G chord. He can’t eat solid foods and he can’t dress himself. Dignity is lost and workers of a nursing home really do not care in the least to help him maintain. My mother goes to see him almost everyday, despite his condition and his memory loss... “Til death do us part”.  It’s never made my heart so confused.

The sadness involved in putting my role model into a nursing home a few months ago is numbing. In the way you remember a loved one who has passed away, it happens now with Wayne. But as I type this on the road, talking about him as if he were dead, I know he’s alive, sleeping in some place 45 minutes from home, only because that’s what we could find and afford.

Attempting to do research on this is futile. I don’t know how to ask people to care, but I know some people really do, and those people have perhaps watched this happen to a loved one of their own.

My Mother has tried to find some people who are dealing with the same situation, support groups and whatnot, but she has found very little emotional support because it is very rarely a wife taking care of their spouse. More often it is someone taking care of a parent. Considering this and his age, this situation is extremely rare and utterly confusing, even to the staff and doctors of these places.

I will spare you the horror stories of what we have actually been through. The facilities that are provided in memory care are appalling and you have to be a Fat Cat to afford assisted living. The system is broken and I believe most decent people know that. Our goal is as modest as I could make it, as my mom won’t ask for help, and i don’t know what else to do. I know he’s still in there when I play him Neil Young or the Stones tunes and he smiles and sings along.

This year has been excruciating and I’m now asking for help, for all of us. But mainly because “Wayne The Brain From Castle Hayne” is still a person.. he’s still alive. And I think about it constantly.

What we need is to find him a space where we can visit him regularly and he can get the 24 hour care he needs. We need people to play him music, take him on drives, and engage him. He deserves this.  And my mom deserves to be able to enjoy his presence, instead of dealing with certain things that he would be ashamed of putting her through.

I miss him, even though he is still with us. It’s a very odd thing to say but it’s true. I pray that’s no one has to see it happen to their family. If you can afford to donate, it will not go unnoticed. Any amount will help.

As he would say, he is “hanging in there like a hair in a biscuit..”

We, however, are falling apart for him.

Thank you, and here’s to Raleigh Wayne Housand. I owe him the world.
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Organizer and beneficiary

Schuylar Croom 
Skippers Corner, NC
Mary Ruth Housand 
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