Brandee is a caregiver and actress who stars on the STARZ series “P-Valley.”
Caring for my mom, who is living with both Alzheimer’s disease and multiple sclerosis, is very hard. My mom was always as active as I was, a very independent woman. To have that independence stripped from her breaks my heart, but I never let her see me cry. Today, any time I am faced with a tough situation with Mom, I focus on loving her and caring for her the way she did for me when I was growing up, celebrating every moment we have together, big and small.
Both of Mom’s diseases are so unpredictable. One day she is fine; the next, she can barely hold her head up.
The times Mom can’t remember are the hardest. The forgetfulness that preceded her Alzheimer’s diagnosis began about 8 years ago. She remembers the past, but doesn’t always retain things we shared three days earlier. Today, she perks up after breakfast in the mornings, and is her most alert and active from 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. She experiences fatigue and begins sundowning around 4 p.m., just to pop up at 8 p.m., eager for a movie night and a chat.
Lately, Mom has known who I am, but if I show her a clip of me on television, it confuses her. When I tell her, “Mom, I’m an actress now,” she is proud, but still clearly confused. I used to be a high school English teacher, then a choreographer, and I don’t think she understands what it is I do now. I’m currently filming the second season of my show “P-Valley.”
I don’t think we will ever really know what people living with Alzheimer’s or dementia are thinking, moment to moment, so we do everything we can to keep them happy and comfortable. My mom has two in-home caregivers that she loves, and this allows me to be on set when I need to be, and for Mom to be at home with people who are like family.