Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Husband of stricken former councilwoman reaches out

Paul Potters wants to keep Alzheimer?s victim home until the right spot opens up

Christina Potters


Paul Potters wants to bring his wife, Christina, home.

Christina served three terms on the Ketchum City Council until 2005 when advancing early-onset Alzheimer's disease forced her to resign. Last summer, the city named its ice rink after her in honor of her long dedication as an advocate for family recreation.

Christina, 55, is now struggling with the fourth stage of Alzheimer's and a related syndrome that has left her blind.

She has been in a Twin Falls psychiatric treatment center for the last month receiving specialized treatment, but cannot stay there. Paul says that no nearby nursing home will accept her as a patient because her immobility combined with her blindness puts her at risk of falling.

He says he's unwilling to place her in most of the limited number of Alzheimer care units available because he doesn't want to see her "warehoused." He's looked at many facilities and the only one he feels is suitable is full. Christina is on a waiting list.

He's hoping that with some help from the local community, he can keep her at home until the right place opens up. He says, "I feel that's my only choice."

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Paul placed an ad in the newspaper last week and asked for Good Samaritans with these words, "No pay. No prospects. Little pleasure. The reward: to know you helped a loving person leave this earth with dignity."

Paul and Christina have been married for 33 years. A professional photographer, climber and outdoorsman, Paul says, "I was injured a lot in our marriage, and she took care of me. I'm here for her now.

"I now have the most important job I've ever had in my life."

But being there is taking its toll. Alzheimer's disease not only isolates its victims by stealing their cognitive abilities, it isolates their families from friends and the larger community. "It scares people, and they don't know what to do," says Paul.

After two years of his wife's increasing isolation and constant care, Paul is asking valley residents to volunteer to help him care for Christina. Though a private nurse helps care for her during the week, Paul says the weekends, from 5 p.m. on Friday to 9 a.m. on Monday, are a nightmare.

He says they need simple things like a meal delivered to them now and then. He's looking for people willing to spend an hour reading to Christina, playing music for her or just keeping her company to give him time to run errands or get a little exercise. He could also use some help walking their dog.

Paul says he's thankful the things friends have already done for him and Chris. Those who wish to volunteer may contact him at 720-7724.

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