A daughter reflects on her journey through Alzheimer’s with her mom

Published on December 21, 2016

Tam MacPhee spending time with her mother Norma Tedford at Villa St. Joseph du Lac.


YARMOUTH, N.S. – My name is Tam MacPhee. For the many readers following Norma’s journey, this will be an update.

Norma Tedford just passed her one-year anniversary of being close to home, living at Villa St Joseph du Lac. Her family is thankful to have her close by and visit her daily.

The last few years have gone by in a blur as I (her daughter and advocate) have been with and cared for my mother as much as I possibly could. Norma has had a long journey to get to her forever home. Previously she lived in her own apartment with home care coming in as often as she qualified for visits, and myself checking on her daily.

In 2013, when Norma started locking herself out in the cold weather and walking down the street not knowing where she was going, her family knew she needed more care. She was assessed three times before meeting the requirements to be put on the list for a nursing home. Officially Norma went on the list in February 2014.

This is why I continue to be her voice. I am grateful that I can help her and I will continue to go everyday I possibly can to assist my mother. Tam MacPhee

While waiting, Norma went from her apartment to living in a seniors boarding home. She stayed there three months where we discovered she needed one-to-one full-time care. When the boarding home discovered they could not care for Norma, my choices were to open up her list to the first bed in Nova Scotia, where she could possibly have ended up in Cape Breton, or bring her to live with my family. I could not bear to send her away, therefore, Norma lived with us for a full year while waiting for placement.

She received her first placement in June of 2015 when I was forced to open up her options of getting a bed in a home two hours away. This was hard for myself and the family as we couldn’t possibly go everyday. Three months later she got transferred and spent two months in the Meteghan Villa. During that time she unfortunately broke her hip. Norma went from being known as a very busy wondering dementia resident to being confined to a chair with a seat belt. 

Tam MacPhee and her mother Norma Tedford

Physio worked hard to rehabilitate Norma and I had high hopes that she would one day walk with one person assisting but she continues to need three people. Unfortunately, her disease has other intentions and after a six-month time of steady incline, she her motor skills have started to decline. Norma has good days and bad days. We continue to keep her as mobile as her body and mind will allow. 

Norma is comfortable in her forever home. Her days consist of watching TV, taking naps in her chair, playing with her activity items and a morning and afternoon walk during the week if she is able to. She talks and answers questions occasionally and is famous for being in a good mood with her smiles and laughter. 

We are truly thankful she has settled in and although she is 100 per cent reliable on others for every little thing, she is unaware of the details. This is why I continue to be her voice. I am grateful that I can help her and I will continue to go everyday I possibly can to assist my mother.

How important are those little everyday things I do for Norma? Norma can not ask for a drink, or to turn the TV up, she can not tell you she is cold or hot, she can not ring a buzzer for the nurse, neither can she let you know if she is full or hungry. She doesn’t even know to call out when someone passes by. For these reasons I am there and always will be for she is my Mother and I love her dearly.

In closing, I just want to share that with all the care Norma needs she is still coming home for Christmas. I have arranged the HOPE van to bring her and her chair to my house. My brother is going to be there to help and my son has built a ramp to get her into the house. We will transfer her to the lazy boy where she can be with us all for Christmas Day.

I know this will one day this not be possible, but for now I can’t imagine Christmas any other way. Time is the most precious gift.

Merry Christmas everyone!


Tam MacPhee lives in Yarmouth. The Vanguard has been following her and Norma’s journey.