Metro East family sheds light on National Caregiver Month

One Belleville family had their world turned upside down when a family member, who lived out of state, got an unexpected diagnosis.
Published: Nov. 21, 2022 at 6:18 AM CST
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BELLEVILLE (KMOV) - November is National Caregiver Month and News 4 is recognizing those who care for their loved ones every single day. Many across our region are caring for family members and friends who have disabling diseases. One Belleville family had their world turned upside down when a family member, who lived out of state, got an unexpected diagnosis.

“She was fiercely independent, even as a young lady. She was really into jazz and her music, she was very active, she had a very active social life, church life, a lot of friends,” Theon Phillips explained.

Adrianne and Theon Phillips grew up in East St. Louis. Adrianne Phillips took her role as Theon Phillips’ brother very seriously.

“She would let me know when I was out of line and was really intensely protective of our family,” Theon Phillips said.

In late 2016, phone calls of concern from Adrianne Phillips’ friends started pouring into Theon Phillips and his wife, Caroline Phillips’ home.

“I was shocked really,” Theon Phillips recalled.

Then, when Adrianne Phillips came home shortly after, Theon Phillips said he immediately noticed some changes.

“She got lost on the way to Schnucks, and of course with her being from St. Louis and knowing that area, it didn’t make sense,” Theon Phillips said.

Adrianne Phillips was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease in early 2017. In March of that year, she moved in with Theon and Caroline Phillips, who are now her primary caregivers.

“It’s been a slow but consistent decline. It’s heart-wrenching, especially if you had known the woman that sits here a couple years ago. I had no idea what to do, or where to turn, or how to go about it, and Alzheimer’s Association kind of grabbed us by the hand,” Theon Phillips explained.

Washington University neurologists introduced the Phillips family to care consultants at the Alzheimer’s Association in 2017.

“We’re here to help families to be better prepared for what comes down the pike in the future. So there are legal and financial planning issues, things about getting educated and connected to support early,” Deb Bryer said.

Bryer is the Phillips’ care consultant. She and the Phillips family want the community to know the signs of the disease and where to get resources.

“What happened with Adrianne is, unfortunate is an understatement. The fact that we have had people who actually care, I just can’t say enough about the people at the Alzheimer’s Association,” Theon Phillips said.

To get connected with the Alzheimer’s Association, click here.