Archive for the ‘Team Alice’ Category

Game Change

Posted on May 20th, 2015 by kim

by Kim Keller

Mary Clare and Marti remember how much their mom Alice loved to play games. Card games, board games, games of strategy, games of luck, Alice was always an eager participant.

The two daughters remember their mom playing bridge for years and years. Indeed, Alice was a member of two different bridge clubs, one with her friends and another with the ladies from her church, and each group would meet one night a month in each others’ homes, pair off into partners and then bid, pass, double and redouble.

Alice enjoyed playing bridge so much that it must have been terribly painful for her to realize she could no longer manage the tricky game. Alice, you see, had Alzheimer’s disease. She was 82 years old when she was diagnosed. Naturally, and yet horribly, as Alice’s disease progressed, it took away pieces of her life, bit by bit, and left her with just a shred of her former cognitive abilities.

Back when it was still in the early stages, Mary Clare and Marti asked their mom why she had stopped playing bridge, and Alice explained that the game now frustrated her. Her partners, she fretted, were seriously disadvantaged by teaming up with her because she was having trouble remembering what cards had been played.

If you can conceive how hard it is for a 40-year-old athlete to hang up his spikes, try to imagine how it feels for an 80-year-old to play her last hand of bridge.

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Team Alice Says A Last Goodbye

Posted on June 27th, 2012 by kim

Tribute To Alice by

by Kim Keller

I just noticed in the Milwaukee paper that your mom passed away . . . Please know we all loved your mom. She was our neighborhood mom growing up.  She would feed you, counsel you, but most of all would stand up for you as she did all the kids in her house.  I’m sure she is organizing a cub scout troop in heaven as we speak.”

Alice Fox was 86 years old when she died on Easter Sunday.  Her son, Joe, received the above message of condolence from a former neighborhood friend. Many of you probably remember Alice from the blogs I’ve written about some of the creative solutions her kids and grandkids, who refer to themselves affectionately as “Team Alice,” came up with to help Alice with her Alzheimer’s.

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Keeping The Joy Of Reading Alive

Posted on February 6th, 2012 by kim


by Kim Keller

My friends, Marti and Mary Clare, were sharing a story with me about their mom, Alice, who is 86 years old and was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease about 4 years ago.  Alice had always been an avid reader — she spent whatever time she could in her favorite chair in the front room of their house in Muskego, Wisconsin, where she’d enjoy all types of novels (with a preference for mysteries like those of Tom Clancy) and biographies about people she admired, such as Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt and legendary Green Bay quarterback Bart Starr (Alice was an avid sports fan and, naturally, the Packers were her team).

But Alzheimer’s attacks the brain and gradually destroys nearly every form of cognitive thought, isolating its victims from the lives they once knew.  So it was just a matter of time before Alice’s joy of reading would slip away from her.

Marti and Mary Clare, along with their six other siblings, all of whom affectionately refer to themselves as Team Alice, started to notice that their mom was taking an uncharacteristically long time with each book she picked up, and no longer showed the passion she once had.  They asked Alice what was going on and she explained that reading had become much too difficult for her.

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Hang In There

Posted on November 30th, 2011 by kim

Team Alice - Easter 2010

by Kim Keller

Alice can no longer pick out her clothes in the morning.  You see, Alice has Alzheimer’s.  It’s a cruel disease that gradually robs you of your coherence and judgment and memories, but also of the ability to do all the little things you’ve taken for granted your entire life.

Alice’s large extended family, who affectionately refer to themselves as “Team Alice,” first noticed the sartorial difficulty when they found Alice wearing uncharacteristically mismatched outfits, like slacks and a pajama top.  So, Mary Clare, the eldest of Alice’s daughters (third eldest of Alice’s eight kids), started helping her mom select an outfit for the day during their routine morning phone call.  But as the disease progressed and the dementia deepened, Alice couldn’t quite grasp all the information over the phone.  

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Sundown Solution

Posted on October 17th, 2011 by kim

Light ON Means Sleep

by Kim Keller

The calls kept coming in the middle of the night.  It was Alice on the phone, asking if it was time to start her day.

See, Alice is 86 and has Alzheimer’s.  Like many people who suffer from this dreaded chronic disease, Alice often wakes up in the wee hours of the morning, confused and disoriented.  This is a common symptom of dementia known as sundowning, which gets its name from the time of day — late afternoon, evening and night — in which it occurs.  Beyond confusion and disorientation, sundowners may also exhibit uncharacteristic behavior such as aggression, paranoia or heightened anxiety.

When Alice would wake up in the middle of the night, she didn’t know if she should be getting up to start her day.  She could no longer just look at the clock and figure out what to do.  Consequently, Alice would pick up the phone to call one of her kids for guidance.  (As readers of this space will no doubt recall, Alice has eight kids, most of whom live nearby, in and around Muskego, Wisconsin. Along with their own extended families, they band together to look out for the family matriarch and refer to themselves as “Team Alice.”)

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Google Calendar To The Rescue!

Posted on September 19th, 2011 by kim

Google Calendar

by Kim Keller

Some of you may remember our earlier In Care of Dad articles about “Team Alice,” the extended family of 86-year-old Alice, a family matriarch from Muskego, Wisconsin, who is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease.

Well, Team Alice has another great tip for families in a similar situation, with many different people contributing to the care of one cherished individual.

Every week Alice’s daughter, Mary Clare, would field phone calls and emails from her siblings who were all signing up for various responsibilities concerning their mom’s care.  All eight kids, in addition to their respective family members, would take turns with duties like driving Alice to the store, or to church, or to her doctors’ appointments.  Making sure that all the visits to Mom were properly spread out, that all the various appointments and errands were covered, was a coordination nightmare for Mary Clare.

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Things That Make Life A Little Easier: An Automatic Pill Dispenser

Posted on August 8th, 2011 by kim

e-pill Automatic Pill Dispenser MD1

An In Care of Dad Series

by Kim Keller

Alice lives in Muskego, Wisconsin, near most of her family, and just celebrated her 86th birthday.  Two years ago, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  As with many families, Alice’s eight children, who refer to themselves as “Team Alice,” worried about her taking her medications properly.

Would she remember what to take and when?  Alzheimer’s is an enormous obstacle to a medication routine.  So Team Alice was thrilled to discover the huge selection of MedTime Automatic Pill Dispensers from

The medication dispenser they chose looks like a space ship.  It has 28 compartment for pills and the like, so it can handle a variety of medication routines without the need for constant refilling.  The dispenser also has a timer system that’s adjustable for each routine, and Team Alice reports that it’s very easy to program and to use.

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Things That Make Life A Little Easier: A Phone for Seniors

Posted on July 20th, 2011 by kim

Clarity C35 Amplified Corded Phone

An In Care of Dad Series

By Kim Keller

My friend Marti Ellerson shared a great tip with me: “The Big Phone.”

Marti’s mom, Alice, who has Alzheimer’s, was having a hard time seeing the small numbers on her phone and would often press the wrong buttons, sometimes in the wee hours of the morning.  You can imagine how someone being awoken in the middle of the night might not be especially polite about a wrong number.  This would fluster Alice and leave her feeling helpless and upset.

So Marti and her seven siblings, who call themselves “Team Alice,” looked for a solution.  They discovered Clarity — a line of telephones designed specifically for senior needs, with features that address everything from hearing or vision impairment to arthritis.

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