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Author Lois Carter touches her mother’s hands.


An Oklahoma author faces the journey of learning to how to love aging parents By Hayley Imel


Fear not, Mon Ami F


reda Stiles, or “GG” as the grandchildren call her, hums hymns. Notably shy, she’s not fond of singing. She’s the owner of decades worth of proprietary kicks under


the table. She has read and loved every Agatha Christie book.


However, to the 93-year-old woman who spends her days gazing out the big bay window in her breakfast room, these traits and this world are a mystery, a type incongruent with the tales of Hercule Po- roit she once loved.


Describing Alzheimer’s and Dementia is almost like a crime without a culprit. Families are essentially robbed of their loved ones, but so many questions regard- ing the conditions affecting 5.4 million Americans go unanswered.


Lois Carter, Stiles’ daughter and Red River Valley Electric Cooperative member,


has a solution: honor her mother for who she was and who she is now living with advanced Dementia.


Labor of Love 20 OKLAHOMA LIVING “See when she does that, the raising of the eyebrows? You


“Honor the person you knew them once to be.” – Lois Carter,


author of Boundless Grace


wouldn’t know it, but that’s so her,” Carter says. Carter is a full-time, unpaid caregiver for her mother. Al- though tumultuous at times, Carter says compassion and ten- derness rule the day.


“People think because they’ve lost their ability to rational- ize or reason that there’s just no brain at all,” Carter says. “But there’s still memories, per- sonality traits unique to them; there’s a per- son still inside.”


According to the Alzheimer’s Association,


Dementia is a general term for the loss of memory and other intellectual abilities se- rious enough to interfere with daily life. Al- zheimer’s is the most common form of De- mentia.


Stiles has lived in Carter’s home for a com- bined 15 years, several of which were before her diagnosis. However, in 2003 Carter began to notice signifi cant changes to her mother’s thought patterns and behaviors. Roads and trips once familiar grew increas-


ingly foreign. Faucets were turned on and off at random, some- times left to run the entire night. Family members were accused of trying to trick or fool Stiles that they were related to her. “When she started going through her diffi cult stage, she saw the half empty glass everywhere she turned,” Carter says.


Photos byHayley Imel


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