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In My Community
Virginia Kairis and Darlene Green - Challenging Behaviors Disrupt a Family
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Darlene hosts a birthday party for Virginia's 93rd and final birthday

Looking back, Darlene Green admits to seeing a slight change in her mother Virginia when she was in her 70’s. Virginia would forget a few things, but she lived independently, remained vital, getting out, visiting stores and attending her quilting group.  But as the years passed, Darlene noticed that Virginia had become increasingly needy of Darlene’s time.  Darlene gladly made the time for her mother.  She had retired and so it was not a hardship to spend extra time helping her mother with small chores. 

But as Virginia entered her early 80’s things changed dramatically.  “Her personality became mean,” said Darlene.  “That was so unlike her.  She started to call me a liar. It happened constantly.”  A few years later, the situation had escalated further.  “My mom was with me seven days a week.  She continuously threatened that if I did not come over and get her out of her condo that she would kill herself.   Hallucinations became more prevalent.  She started imagining seeing people that weren’t there.“  The verbal abuse began to take its toll on Darlene. “I had no life of my own. She would not allow me to see my children without her. She called constantly to see where I was. She would push and hit me at times.  She tried jumping out of my car twice.” Darlene came to the realization that she herself was becoming a very ugly person. “I was unloading on my kids and friends and family members. I was crying and angry.”

Darlene kept the lid on the situation for almost ten years.  Her mother refused to be seen by doctors. Then one night at 2:00 a.m. Darlene received a call from her mother, who was then in her early 90’s, indicating that she thought she was about to die.  Darlene and her daughter rushed over and took Virginia to the hospital.  The hospital ran some tests and then told the family that they would have to discharge Virginia because she was “healthy as a horse.” That was the turning point for Darlene.  She went to the nurse’s desk and said, “I need help. I can’t do this anymore.”

A nurse gave Darlene the name and phone number of a social worker at the ADRC.  In turn, the social worker connected Darlene to Ginny Nyhuis at the Alzheimer’s Association.  “I told Ginny my story and she assured me that I was not the only person on earth going through this.  This started the help I needed in my life.  If I only knew sooner!”  Darlene was introduced to a support group where she met other people who could truly understand and relate to what she had been going through.

Virginia was eventually moved from her condo to a care facility.  It was a rocky transition. Her behavior problems, specifically her constant screaming, caused the facility to reject her within a week. That left Darlene scrambling for another facility that would take her mom.  The second facility didn’t work out either. At age 93, Virginia needed somewhere else to live.  “Luckily for me, I got her into God’s slice of heaven on earth.  The most wonderful place ever.  They kept her so busy and stimulated all the time. “

Virginia passed away peacefully in the care of hospice about three months after her last move.  It was a long journey, but Darlene is finally now starting to get her life back.  “I’ve joined a gym.  I’m back to doing my art and now display my works at craft shows and sales.” Darlene was asked to hold the purple flower at the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in Sheboygan County in 2016 in honor of losing her mother to this devastating disease. “It was so moving. The whole experience. Just meeting all the people and seeing the crowds.  The ceremony  was so impressive and moving. I have the purple flower in my art studio so that I can remember that very special day.”

Life wasn't easy for Virginia Kairis.  She was widowed at the age of 48. She did what needed to be done to survive as a single mom. She cut the grass. She plowed snow. She drove a tractor. She worked to support herself and put her only child, Darlene, through college.  No doubt about it - Virginia was a strong, intelligent, loving, and caring woman with an incredible amount of stamina.  Her life, and that of her daughter, Darlene Green, was drastically altered by Alzheimer's.


 

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