Big sister gets help in providing for the needs of her little sister

MIKE REUTHER/Sun-Gazette Mary Lou Rueve, left, received help with the care of her sister, who has Alzheimer’s disease. A group made it possible for the care to be given by Home Instead Serior Care in Williamsport. At right is Maria Weisser, home care consultant.

It’s likely not easy for anyone to take care of a person with Alzheimer’s disease.

Especially, when the caregiver is a senior citizen.

Mary Lou Rueve, 78, found all her time taken up with caring for her little sister, Barbara Linehan, 53.

It was exhausting, and it got to the point where she didn’t know how she would be able to keep up the pace.

“I wasn’t getting any rest,” she said.

Some help came from Home Instead Senior Care in Williamsport, which made available caregivers through the Hilarity for Charity Alzheimer’s and Dementia Care Relief Grant program.

The family is receiving 15 hours of free specialized, in-home care services. Hilarity for Charity is led by comedian Seth Rogen and his wife, Lauren Miller Rogen, and the Alzheimer’s Association to help bring change and raise awareness of Alzheimer’s disease.

The caregivers, trained in Alzheimer’s and personal care, take over the duties of administering to Linehan’s daily needs.

Rueve found the program to be a godsend.

“I feel more relaxed,” said Rueve. “I couldn’t even get out of my house before.”

More than 5 million Americans are affected by Alzheimer’s or a related dementia.

There is no cure.

“It’s a horrible, devastating disease,” said Maria Weisser, home care consultant, Home Instead Senior Care.

Rueve and Linehan are among 18 siblings who grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, where most of the family remains.

For many years, Rueve has been in the local area living with her little sister, who also has Down syndrome.

About three years ago, when Linehan was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, Rueve found that taking care of her was becoming an overwhelming task.

She is unable to fix her own meals or even feed herself.

“She can’t hold a cup,” Rueve said.

Often, Linehan will forget where she is.

“For a whole year, I didn’t leave the house,” Rueve said.

It was suggested that perhaps it was time for Linehan to move out of their Lock Haven home and into a care facility. But Rueve is determined that is not going to happen.

“She is going to stay with me,” she said.

The service has allowed Rueve to resume some of her own activities, including attending church.

“That gives me a chance to at least take a nap,” she said.