March 5, 2010 – NOW WHAT??


(Real-time Entry)

Friday turned out to be an unexpected whirlwind for my mom and me after we received less than desirable news… over and over again.

It all began with a family meeting with Dad’s psychiatrist at Botsford Hospital to bring us up to speed with his treatment and prognosis after 3.5 weeks in the Geri-Psychiatric Ward.  The news wasn’t promising, as Dad hasn’t been reacting predictably to their usual regimen of meds typically used to curb aggression in Alzheimer’s patients.  Apparently, my dad appears to be somewhat of a baffling case for them…

Dad’s psychiatrist suggested that Dad may have another complication in ADDITION to Alzheimer’s!  He introduced us to the concept of Frontotemporal Dementia – otherwise known as FTD or Pick’s Disease.  He explained that a brain affected by Alzheimer’s dies in its entirety yet very slowly, whereas, Frontotemporal Dementia attacks just the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain but kills that part of the brain very aggressively and quickly.  He said that Dad’s newfound aggression, physical violence and inappropriate social behavior could easily be explained by FTD, including the shocking rate at which he seems to be in decline.  The doctor pointed out that within the 3 weeks Dad has been at Botsford they have noticed a drastic reduction in his abilities and recognition; they’ve even noticed a drastic decline in just the past 5-7 days!  He said that 3 weeks ago Dad would eat if he was hungry and food was placed in front of him; he says that now Dad just stares at the food and can’t process what to do with it.  This change has happened within 1-3 weeks!  He pointed out that Alzheimer’s absolutely does NOT act this quickly and that an Alzheimer’s diagnosis alone doesn’t explain the last 5 months of severe decline we’ve astonishingly witnessed.

I suppose the good news is (assuming that this suggested FTD diagnosis is correct) that perhaps Dad’s suffering won’t be prolonged.  At the rate they are witnessing his degeneration, it was loosely suggested that Dad may not live out the year.  Six months was even thrown out when I pressed.  Of course, as usual, “no one can say for sure…”

Well, I say, Halleluiah! – please just take him home!  He is tired and restless and has been preparing spiritually for this part of his trip for a very long time.  He is ready, and he deserves peace.

The obstacle now though is where will he live out his remaining days?  (watch video below)

28 Responses to “March 5, 2010 – NOW WHAT??”

  1. Thank you so much for the up-date on Frank. Keeping all in our prayers. Love, courage and strength be with you all!!

  2. Mike & Cindy Pheney said

    Cin and I visited Frank Friday evening. We made cheerful small talk and Frank commented back but usually his words were only in the context of his own world. He had a couple of bouts of tears which struck me as the brief moment he was back to the tragic reality of his situation.
    As a side comment it seems clear that Frank was a man who loved deeply and in his current circumstance that love is being returned.
    Bless the Fireks

    • Mike ~

      Wow, I wasn’t aware that anyone but family had been to Botsford to visit my father. How incredibly loving of you!! I agree with you about his tearful moments; I too think that he gets glimpses of his harsh reality and is just beside himself in those moments with grief and disbelief. I also think that he and my mother have been leaving a proverbial trail of love-filled bread crumbs throughout their life and that people are now returning those morsels to them. It truly is the beauty within the tragedy. Thank God for beauty.

  3. Hank Firek said

    Hello Joleen
    A large burden has been placed on you and your family
    I suggest we find an apartment for your dad and with the help of the family, friends, paid staff, Hospice? we can keep him close to us in his finial days. I have thought of having him at my home but I believe this to be too stressful at any of our homes.
    With love and compassion
    Uncle Hank

    • Uncle Hank ~

      Trust me, we too have thought about just bringing Dad home. However, all the legal and professional advice we’ve obtained thus far has warned us that it is a terrible idea – that 6 months could turn into 6 years, that violence could become worse and/or directed toward us which would further complicate our already-drained emotions, that this type of in-depth experience could truly break a family down. Unfortunately there seems to be no comforting, perfect solution to the problem at hand. However, as we continue to get and follow leads, there does appear to be a few housing options popping up, including an assisted living home for patients with dementia in Farmington Hills which will take patients with behavioral issues. Mom and I are currently pursuing that option as well as others. My dad would be moved to know that his little brother loves him so much that he has offered to sacrifice part of his life in order to help with the solution. Love you!

  4. Mary Muldowney said

    Dear Jo and Frannie,

    This is too terrible. Have you found somewhere for Frank? Shall I start checking here in Florida? Alzheimers is more prevalent here and perhaps the housing options are more diversified. I’m beside myself in knowing how to help. I love you and I’m here to do what you need me to do.


    • Aunt Mary ~

      That’s a very creative suggestion – thank you. Currently, Mom and I have 2 viable leads in the area and have conversations in motion with each of them and their corresponding doctors. Hopefully, we’ll have an option or 2 in the near future from which to choose. Mom and I are going to visit Dad tonight so I will probably post again after that… Love you – distance can’t change that!! 🙂

  5. Judy & Jim O'connor said

    Thanks again JoJo for being so brave and relating to all of us the current situation. I keep telling myself our dear dear Friend Frank left us months ago, and now it’s the duty to provide as much dignity, caring for his form, with the hope that he
    will not inflict any pain OR suffer any himself. Your whole family is doing just that, continously, with such heroic actions, love & concern. We continue to pray for squadrons of angels to be there for you.

  6. Laura Porter said

    Fran & Joleen
    thanks so much for the up date I will continue to pray for the family,and keep you in my thoughts … Love you ..and send hugs your way

  7. Sandy Hess said

    Dear Joleen & Fran,

    Words just can’t express my feeling about this whole situation. Please know that Peter and I are constantly praying for all of you. I wish that I could offer some good information for you, but I am at a loss. Just please know that if there is ANYTHING we can do to lighten your load we are ready to do so.

    Love and Blessings,

    • Sandy & Peter ~

      You 2 have always been wonderful to us and, trust me, we DO know that we can turn to you. Somehow finding strength in the storm and getting through. Mom and I are so lucky to have one another so close and accessible – quite the team! 🙂

  8. susan couzens said

    Fran and all the Fireks,
    Prayers, love, and hugs to all of you. Through your sadness, I can see your courage. susan

  9. Kyley Mills said


    My parents have been keeping me updated on your dad. My heart goes out to you and your family during this very difficult time. I have nothing but wonderful memories of your father, he is a very kind and loving man. I was lucky to be able to visit with him last year at my Nana’s funeral. I admire your strength and devotion you have for both your father and your family. My prayers are with you and your family.



    • Kyley ~

      I can imagine the great memories you have of him – he is SUCH a great person and relates so well to children as they are growing up. There’s nothing like his childlike wonder!! 🙂 Thanks for sharing your love of him with me – that says so much about who he is. Hope you’re well – it’s been so long! xoxo

  10. Judith Olenik said

    Thank you so much for the update. Please know my Love and heart are praying for you all. I will be there for you when I can. The lady I care take is in the hospital at the moment but I am sure it is a resolvable(is there such a word??) situation. I am so honored to have been able to help (though briefly ) and Love you all and honor you. Let me know if you need my help or time. (586-770-2715) You are in my prayers for a Peaceful resolution to this.
    In Love and light

    Judith Olenik

    • Judith ~

      You were a beacon in the holiday storm and we appreciate and admire you. Thank you for being such a caring, loving, wonderful person! It’s no coincidence these types of people always find one another. 🙂

  11. Jeannette Mulheisen said

    Hi Fran,
    John & I are so, so sorry to hear what Frank and you and all of your family is going thru. I will pray for a solution.

  12. Joleen said


    We are all moved by how much that you trying to help both your parents, through this difficult situation. Your a very courageous lady, keep the faith and God will assist you and your parents. They both need you so very much.
    Take care of yourself.
    Someone will open the door for Frank, even though the doors seem to be closed right now. Remember for every door that closes a new one will be open.
    Praying for a safe place for your Dad to be.
    Thank you for sharing so much of your sorrow with all of us. No one should have to do this alone.


  13. Amanda Davis said

    Fran & Joleen,
    I love you, I’m holding you in the light, I pray that Frank’s suffering will be over soon and peace finds a place in your hearts.

    Love, Amanda

  14. Suzanne Paul said

    Fran & Joleen, I have been having some problems with my email, so this just came through. I had no idea Frank was still at Botsford all this time. I am so terribly sorry for you all. There are no words to express how sorry I am.
    Love to you all,

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