“Alzheimer’s is so unpredictable,” said the star of Starz drama “P-Valley.” “I don’t even know what my mom knows each day. I’m just trying to stay positive and keep her as happy as I can be. It’s a scary road to travel, because you just really don’t know.”
Watching her mother’s disease progression has been emotional. While it can feel like the disease is taking her mother away, Evans knows her mother is still there.
When Evans brought her mother home from the nursing home, her mother said thanks for “coming to get me.” In that moment, Evans realized, “My mommy is still there and she knows that I love her.”
Day-to-day caregiving can be tough. Evans recalls one time she came home and her mother was asking for her daughter. The matriarch didn’t realize she was talking to her daughter, who was standing right in front of her.
“I said, ‘who do you want to talk to?’ and she said, ‘Brandee,’” Evans said.
Evans told her mother, “‘I’m calling Brandee for you.’” She excused herself, hid in the closet and used her cell phone to call the landline in the house. She laughs and says in that moment, she knew she was meant to be an actress.
Her mother was so happy to have that phone conversation. But five minutes later, “it’s like it never happened,” said Evans, who tries to stay optimistic despite frustrating moments.
“Even right now, like this beautiful moment for my career,” she said, “but my mom doesn’t really know.”
No perfect way
A trained dancer and choreographer, Evans focuses on regular self-care, including working out and going for drives.
When the pandemic happened, she was overwhelmed because she didn’t have a caregiver for her mother at the time. She found one and says it’s important to trust that person to do their best.
“I like to remind myself, just like a new mom or any mom, there is no perfect way,” she said. “There are going to be mistakes. No one’s perfect.”
Over 15 million U.S. adults are family caregivers for loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or other dementia.
Evans wants to see more storylines about caregivers and how dedicated they are. She encourages others starting a caregiver journey to get CPR trained, take notes, and ask for help, like she didn’t for the first few years.
“I felt like I had to do everything and it almost broke me down,” she said.
These days, she accepts help and lives in the moment.
“We’re with each other and that’s all that matters,” Evans said.