Mulgrew: 'Alzheimer's Will Strip You of All Reason'By Michelle
August 7, 2006 - 10:11 PM
Kate Mulgrew (Janeway) spoke recently about her mother's battle with Alzheimer's - a struggle which ended recently when Joan Mulgrew died on Thursday, July 27th.
In the Summer 2006 Newsletter of the Alzheimer's Association New York City (via Totally Kate!), Mulgrew explained that the "profound heartbreak" of her mother's diagnosis led to her involvement in fundraising for Alzheimer's research. "My mother was diagnosed about six years ago and I was the one who took her to the neurologist – kicking and screaming – while the entire family resisted," Mulgrew explained. "She was 73, young by today’s standards – and far younger than 73 in spirit."
Mulgrew explained that what she had thought of as her mother's eccentricities revealed themselves to be symptoms of her illness. "She had what she called a series of small strokes," the actress explained. "She fell out of bed with her glasses on, gashing her forehead. I climbed into bed with her, as I often did, and we actually had a laugh about it...and then she pointed to the wallpaper and said, 'Oh, look, isn’t that terrible? There are spiders coming out of the wallpaper.'"
The doctor, added Mulgrew, was very frank with her mother in diagnosing her, but her mother went in to take the mental exams with "crib notes written on her hand. The date, the President...she had no clue what day or date it was." Her mother strongly resisted being told that she could not drive. "That was hard. When we had to make the decision about her care, I told my family that we’re going to have to get full time help."
Joan Mulgrew was cared for by a woman named Lucy, whom Mulgrew said "raised my children", offered to take care of her mother. Mulgrew said that she tried to go to Iowa to visit her mother regularly and that she has struggled with depression: "I try to understand that I too am going to die, this is part of life...Alzheimer's will strip you of all reason and eventually you will need to rely on what you have developed spiritually. The more philosophical we are, the more we can unite with our families and be united in that philosophy."
The full interview is here.