Christine Morrisey was very close to her mother, Jean.
“We’ve always had a great relationship, but when my dad passed we just got even closer,” Morrisey said. “She was much more than my mother; she was a great friend, a cheerleader and a confidante. We could talk about anything and I miss that a lot.
Jean Morrisey, who lived in Scituate, died on June 14, 2020 from posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) also known as Benson syndrome, a very rare form of Alzheimer’s disease.
“Since she passed away, I have been determined to raise awareness as much as possible about Alzheimer’s disease and in particular PCA,” Morrisey said.
She launched a fundraiser, “Sell Memories to Save Them” as part of the Alzheimer’s Association annual fundraising event, “The Longest Day,” which encourages people to get involved. in a favorite activity – or an activity loved by someone affected by Alzheimer’s disease – to raise awareness and funds for the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer’s Association.
Selling Memories to Save Them is a virtual garage sale that runs until June 20. You can find more information about The Longest Day under Events on alz.org.
Morrisey, a resident of Scituate, is also planning to participate in the South Rim Walk to End Alzheimer’s Disease this fall for the second year in a row.
Prior to their mother’s death, Morrisey and her sisters, Janet and Karen, had started visiting their mother’s house to see if there were any items that could be given away or thrown away. It was around this time that Morrisey came up with the idea for the name of the fundraiser.
“There was a great response and the items sold out quickly,” Morrisey said. “I always list the articles for the house, but I have also included a variety of other articles to increase page views and future sales.”
Born in Glasgow, Scotland, Jean was married to Ernie Morrisey for 43 years; the couple had three daughters. Ernie died in 2004.
“She was an avid knitter,” Morrisey said. “She enjoyed collecting stamps, doing puzzles, reading, traveling, spending time with her family and being near the ocean. She loved Scituate.
Jean also loved to watch football and was a huge fan of the Green Bay Packers.
“You can still find her watching the Chuck Norris, Clint Eastwood ‘marathons’ or the Rambo movies,” Morrisey said. “She was a huge Sean Connery fan.”
After raising her three children, Jean returned to the workforce, working first in Angelo’s bakery and snack bar, then in the banking sector at Scituate Federal Savings Bank where she was a cashier before becoming a loan assistant. residential.
“Mom was such a fun person,” Morrisey said. “She had a fantastic sense of humor. She loved to tell stories, laugh and do a little dance to a favorite song. It was horrible to watch this disease take all of that away from him. It’s hard to be sitting right next to your mom and missing her at the same time.
Coping with the diagnosis
In 2015, when Jean retired, Morrisey and her sisters began to notice that their mother was having difficulty forming sentences and that her handwriting had changed, which caused her enormous frustration.
Jean was first diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in 2017, but after further testing, including a lumbar puncture, she was diagnosed with PCA.
“No drug has been shown to slow the progression of this disease,” Morrisey said, adding that upon hearing the diagnosis the family was “devastated and very frightened.”
As they left the doctor’s office, Morrisey remembers his mother grabbing his hand and saying, “Well, now we have to make a plan.”
“Despite the diagnosis, Mom was strong.”
PCA affects the posterior part of the brain, which processes visual information.
Jean began to have difficulty judging the distance of objects and moving around the house in which she had lived for almost 30 years. She also hallucinated and stopped being able to do things that she once did without thinking, like cooking and knitting.
“She had extreme anxiety because she was really aware that something was wrong,” Morrisey said. “His memory, however, was not affected at first.
After their mother was diagnosed, the sisters made the decision to do everything possible to take care of her on their own so that she could stay at home.
“At that time, neither of us knew the enormity of what we agreed to do,” Morrisey said. “I became very depressed and angry because she was so sick and there was nothing I could do to help her. All she wanted was to feel good and start enjoying the things she loved to do again. This disease took all of that away from him.
Jean declined rapidly after the diagnosis of PCA and died eight months later – three years after the initial diagnosis of dementia.
Before that, Morrisey and his family had not had to deal with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
Offering advice to others who might have a similar experience, Morrisey said it’s really important to be an advocate for your loved one when that person is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.
“Make sure they really like the neurologist they have, that’s important. There may be a lot going on with your loved one that they are not able to articulate, so it is very important to listen and do all you can to understand what they need.
Morrisey also suggests contacting the Alzheimer’s Association.
“They are a wonderful resource and I really can’t say enough about them.”
The last years of Jean’s life have been incredibly difficult, said Morrisey.
“But she handled everything with such courage. She never let PAC or any of the symptoms bring her down; until the end. She was an amazing woman and I am more than proud to be her daughter. If I’m half the person she was, I’d be happy.
For more information on the Alzheimer’s Association, visit alz.org
Follow Ruth Thompson on Twitter @scituateruth