A local family has been navigating through their Alzheimer’s journey for the last five years.
We caught up with Mel and Lisa Millsap in February about how their love can overcome anything including the disease.
Now, the pandemic has changed everything.
“It feels like a freight train that you just can’t stop at this point. She maintained for so many years and it’s just getting away from us now,” said Mel.
Lisa was diagnosed with early on-set Alzheimer’s five years ago.
When we sat down with them in February, she was going to Edgewood Memory Care during the day while her husband, Mel went to work.
“She lost that and that was such a neat routine everyday,” Mel said.
Just a month later, the pandemic came about and she couldn’t go there anymore.
Over the last six months, a lot has changed.
“She was dancing and stuff like that. That doesn’t happen anymore. I try and get her to, but she just doesn’t get the excitement that she used to get out of that. So, that’s one,” Mel said.
Mel says she now has some trembling and has to rely on him for everything.
“She’s so scared and all I can do is tell her I’m here. And I’m going to take care of her. That’s all I can do,” Mel said.
However, some things haven’t changed.
“She’ll mess with me still a little bit, now and then. And help get me through the day,” Mel said.
And he still knows what she wants or needs without her saying a word.
“It’s harder. It’s more difficult but I kind of know. I know what she needs and what she’s trying to convey,” Mel said.
And yes, he still paints her nails.
“I painted them blue. Blue really looks good on her so I put the blue on her,” Mel said.
The couple is also doing something they’ve always done: taking a trip during the fall to see the changing leaves.
This year, it’s to Michigan.
“We went into her neurologist just a couple days ago and she stopped her Alzheimer’s medication. It does no good. So, we’re to the point where we’re making her comfortable and happy,” Mel said.
Their care consultant at the Alzheimer’s Association says a part of keeping her comfortable and happy is the long-standing love shared between these two.
“It’s amazing of how he still sees her the way that he saw her when he met her in middle school. The love is just so deep there,” said Audrey Williamson, regional care consultant at Alzheimer’s Association.
Mel says no matter what’s happening or what type of day Lisa is having…
“The neat thing about Lisa is she still finds ways to put a smile on your face. It’s crazy,” Mel said.
Lisa’s sister is meeting them in Minnesota on Tuesday. Their granddaughter decided to join them at the very last second, too.
They ask if you know someone dealing with a disease to check in on them and ask how they and their caregivers are doing.