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Dementia page 10

married but also the soldier, child and infant that he once was. Ellen will talk about that journey Nov. 17 at the United for Life Foundation’s Hearts for Hope Alzheimer’s Fundraiser Dinner. In addition to raising funds for Alzheimer’s and dementia education and research, the event will also honor Frank. “It’s so great that they’re honoring my sweet husband Frank,” Ellen said. “He would be so excited because he’ll be the center of attention. He loved that.” Ellen said the message she would like to spread is that dementia can take over the mind, but it can’t take the heart. That’s what she learned during the years before her husband died. “The mind has a heart,” she said. “And the heart doesn’t get dementia. I learned that I just had to adjust my microscope to be with him. “As his world became smaller and smaller, he just became my precious baby.” It was her granddaughter Brantley who helped her learn how to care for her husband. Ellen said she noticed Frank would respond well to the way she spoke to her baby grand-

daughter. And just as her daughter’s family prepared for a new baby before Brantley’s birth, Ellen said she realized she needed to prepare for Frank’s dementia. “I tell people all the time that I wish we would respond to dementia like we do to an unplanned pregnancy,” she said. “It’s a call to sacrificial love. It’s a matter of accepting reality. “If you had a baby coming, you would be prepared. I know it’s different. With a baby you’re always moving forward, and with dementia you’re going backward until the day their heart stops beating.” Ellen cared for Frank in their home with the help of live-in nurses, though at one point he was at an assisted living home while she had the house restructured to meet his needs. She said he did have lucid moments, and at those times, she was there with words of love and encouragement. “One day I saw him just sobbing into his hands, and I asked him what was wrong,” she said. “He said, ‘Ellen, I’ve lost my wisdom.’ I told him he could have some of mine. He just laughed.” Ellen said she never tried to test Frank or his memory. “I just met him where he was at that time,” she said.


LIFE Frank spent most of the last year of his life in a hospice bed. In her book, she refers to it as the “rails of love,” because it was at the rails of the hospice bed where she would meet her husband daily. At this time he was completely bedridden and, Ellen said, an infant once again. He died Dec. 21, 2005, the same day Ellen learned of a new life that would soon be entering hers. Her daughter was expecting a girl, Riley. Now, as Ellen watches her grandchildren continue to grow,

she said it’s confirmed all her beliefs about Frank’s disease. She hopes her book will help others caring for loved ones with similar afflictions as well as those suffering from dementias. “I wanted to be a source of hope and security,” she said. “If that person has fear, we can replace it with hope. Never forget the people. “Even if they have dementia, they have moments of knowing. We just have to see the flame is still alive inside that person and embrace them where they are.” ❖

Frank and Ellen Edmonds


LOWERING WATER TEMPS A LITTLE CAN SAVE A LOT. By Jamie Sandford Alabama Power Company

Adjusting the temperature on your water heater can keep your money from going down the drain. If your house is anything like mine,

you want the water

you probably go through a lot of hot

to be hot enough to

water. Think about it. Hot showers,

kill bacteria in your

laundry, dishwashing. No wonder the


water heater is the second-largest

Also, place an

energy user in your home. Fortunately,

insulating blanket

there are some things you can do to

around your electric

use hot water more efficiently.

water heater to

First, check the temperature on

decrease heat loss

your water heater. If it’s 140 degrees

from the surrounding

or higher, turn it down. For every 10


degrees you lower your water heater,

Try these helpful

Wrapping your electric water heater in a water heater blanket is an easy way to greater efficiency.

you can save 3%–5% in energy costs.

water heating tips

However, you may not want to go

and you should be able to keep your

any lower than 120 degrees because

energy bills under control.

For more water heating tips, visit © 2011 Alabama Power Company

POWI-2591 Water Temp_5.75 x 10.indd 1

10/27/11 1:51 PM

Over the Mountain Journal Nov. 3, 2011  

Over the Mountain Journal is a suburban newspaper covering the communities of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Homewood, Hoover and North She...

Over the Mountain Journal Nov. 3, 2011  

Over the Mountain Journal is a suburban newspaper covering the communities of Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills, Homewood, Hoover and North She...