VARINA, VA (WWBT) - It's devastating to watch a family member disappear before your eyes as an incurable disease takes over. It's heartbreaking for family members to take care of that loved one, in a home that's in disrepair and unsafe.
A Varina family reached out to NBC12 for help and a chance to share their struggle to get home repairs they need but can't afford.
Cathy Rengstorf has frontotemporal dementia, or FTD. It's rare, but it rapidly turns a vital person into one who needs constant care.
This family made an emotional plea to us through Facebook. They showed us just what they're up against.
Cathy's symptoms were subtle, but as the disease progressed, it became a long and painful journey.
"She lost her job. We thought it was because she was coming up on her retirement, but it was because she was starting to forget to do things," said Cathy's niece Haley Morse. "She's going into surgery today and then she'll be in a convalescent center for at least three weeks."
It's when Cathy comes home that Haley worries about. Cathy suffered a bad fall two weeks ago trying to get into bed. Broken bones put her in the hospital.
The family fears she will fall again.
"Her disease, FTD, it's like taking care of an adult-sized toddler," said Morse. "She shuffles, so parts of the floor that are torn up are kind of a fall risk. The floors, they are like 50s parkay flooring, and if they could be patched where they're torn up in a way they could be smooth, that would be a great help."
Equally important, if not more, is a tub shower conversion, getting a contractor to make bathing Cathy safe.
"A bathtub that has a door and has a built-in bench," said Morse. "Something like that would be perfect, and it would make it so much easier to bathe her if we had somewhere to sit her down to do it, where we didn't have to get her over a foot-and-a-half wall into a tub."
FTD is leaving Cathy confused and her family feeling helpless.
"I'm a stay-at-home mom. My husband is a delivery driver, and mom, her job is keeping Cathy," said Morse. "So none of us are in a position like we can help in a financial capacity. Having things done to the house that would improve her quality of life. If we could give her a bath every other day, where it wasn't like a huge stressful production, that would be awesome. She frequently forgets to eat, and you have to feed her. You really do have to pick her up and carry her places."
Call 345-1212 and speak with a Call 12 volunteer or email email@example.com if you're a contractor or know someone who can help with flooring, a tub shower conversion or a ramp that would help Cathy get in and out of the house safely.
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