BANGOR — Carroll Allen was seated at a table with other male veterans listening to the activity director at the Maine Veterans’ Home read one of the funny announcements found in church bulletins: “This afternoon there will be a meeting in the South and North ends of the church. Children will be baptized at both ends.”
Many in the Alzheimer’s unit laughed or smiled. Allen definitely caught the humor in it.
The Hampden man is a bit of a flirt with an outgoing personality, something new that came with his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
“His inhibitions are somewhat gone; he talks with most everyone, even complete strangers, and this is very different because he was never one to carry on a conversation,” said his wife, Geneva Allen.
The couple has had a difficult few years with a son dying and Carroll having hip replacement, a subsequent fall and fractured hip, a heart attack and the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease.
Allen went to the Maine Veterans’ Home in Bangor two years ago for rehab, went home, and has since returned.
For 37 years, he owned and operated an electrical contracting business, was a champion pistol shooter, and enjoyed boating and golf. He took great pride in handling the business and personal finances, but today he has no interest in those activities.
Allen recognizes his family, but has a hard time remembering the names of friends who visit. He tries to hide that he doesn’t recognize people by asking questions such as: “What’s up with you?” He is very fortunate to have a wife who visits every afternoon, as well as regular visits from other family.
Geneva says that her husband feels very safe and secure at MVH. His first visit home was at Christmas, and after presents were opened he was ready to go “back home” to MVH. His wife had to convince him to stay for dinner, which he did, then insisted on going back as soon as the meal was over.
“I like it here,” Allen said of the veterans home. “They take us out, it’s a nice place. If you can’t take care of yourself, this is a good place to be.”
“I’ve heard of people having Alzheimer’s, but I didn’t pay too much attention until now,” said Geneva. “This has been a new window open to me, and I’ve been learning as I go. I’ve learned a lot about mental health, and I find it rewarding to communicate and relate to the other residents and families.”
The Walk to End Alzheimer’s will be held in 13 Maine locations, the 15th Bangor Walk at 9 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 1, at Bangor Raceway, Bass Park.
For information on registering for the Bangor Walk, visit http://www.alz.org/walk and click on the state of Maine.