A MOTHER & DAUGHTER'S JOURNEY WITH DEMENTIA
In 2016 my mother was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia. She was just 68 and had retired just 10 months prior to her diagnosis.
Since then, we've shared our agonizing story of a mother and daughter's journey--from the diagnosis to the debilitating loss in memory and cognitive function.
It's a harrowing journey but we're not alone. This is our story.
My mom was my hero. She still is.
She's a single mother of two twins. A grandmother to three nieces. A sister to seven siblings.
She still is--but she's changed.
I first started noticing something was wrong in March 2016--on a retirement cruise to Mexico. It was little things at first. Calling normal objects by the wrong names. Having the same conversation 3-5 times in just a matter of minutes. Then came the hallucinations. First it was "men in trees", she'd watch them for hours from her condo in Mukilteo, then it was "bugs" or "rodents" on the floor. Neurologists in Everett diagnosed her in November with Lewy Body Dementia.
That's a tough diagnosis for just about anyone to stomach--especially her. A month later, another neurologist confirmed it--and because my family is nothing if not thorough, a team of medical professionals--including specialists at the world renowned Lou Ruvo Clinic in Las Vegas agreed.
My mother was just 68 when she was first diagnosed, just ten months after she retired. She dreamed of retiring, growing old while she traveled across the country visiting friends and family in an RV. My whole childhood I remember talking about all her retirement dreams.
While her retirement dreams didn't exactly pan out--my mom checked off a lot of goals. She was a mover and shaker. She taught me how to work hard for what I wanted and not to stop until I reached checked off my goals. One of her goals was owning her own business--which she did several times. Though she's probably most proud of the blood, sweat and tears that went into owning her own quilt shop, "Quilting By the Sea" on Whidbey Island.
My mother worked her tail off to be a great mom and provide for my brother and I. Her and my dad were both such proud parents and were delighted when they found out they were having twins. They sacrificed a lot to provide a warm and loving home, private education and a strong upbringing.
My parents divorced in middle school and a lot has changed over the years. But that's life and life come's with all kinds of spectacular blessings and brutal challenges.
My mom's challenge is dementia, a syndrome also affecting more than 50 millions others worldwide. It's one of life's most agonizing tests. I say that because dementia has been slowly stealing my mom's memory and cognitive ability and has dramatically changed her physically.
But she's stubborn and resilient and when she was first diagnosed we both decided to share this scary journey in hopes that it will raise awareness, promote the need for funding and new treatment and spread encouragement to the millions of others living with or care taking for someone with dementia.
Katie Boer is an Emmy award winning TV Broadcaster, Meteorologist and Communications Specialist with more than a decade of professional TV experience in Seattle and across the West Coast. She's a hard-working and motivated journalist with a passion for storytelling. Now, she shares a much personal one--her mother's.
Before returning back to her hometown of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, Katie was a Meteorologist and Reporter in Las Vegas, Nevada where she was known for her out-of-the-box storytelling. She's most proud of her work on several 8 News Now specials--including "Dementia: Finding Peace of Mind," which includes her own story of caring for her mother from 1,200 miles away. That story, "Dementia: Love from Long Distance" was awarded an Emmy from the National Academy of Arts & Sciences, Pacific Southwest Region.
Katie also lived in Spokane, Washington--where she worked weekday mornings at the CBS affiliate KREM-2. In Spokane she helped launch "KREM in the Classroom", an regional educational segment that taught hundreds of students, in dozens of classrooms the science behind Washington micro-climates and forecast dynamics. The hands-on presentation was designed to promote and encourage STEM in schools as well as inspiring elementary students to pursue future career goals.
Prior to Spokane Katie was also worked at the CBS affiliates, KVAL & KPIC in Eugene and Roseburg, Oregon--wearing multiple hats as a Weather Anchor, Reporter, and Producer. She's known around Western Oregon for her high-speed adventures like skydiving, lawn mower racing, and swimming with sharks in her award winning sports series "Extreme Katie".
Katie graduated from Biola University in Southern California in two and a half years with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She also received her Meteorology Certification from Mississippi State University's Broadcast Meteorology Program.
Katie has a twin brother. She's a former ball girl for the Seattle Mariners and an avid sports fan. Katie also spends her time at the gym, kayaking, hiking, or just about anything outdoors. She also enjoys cake decorating and trying to keep up with her crazy 3 1/2 year old Golden Retriever named Murphy.