Friday, May 10, 2013

Alzheimer's Disease Is Not A Dirty Word

This is hard for me to talk about. No one wants to talk about this disease. Alzheimer’s is like dirty word. When my grandmother was diagnosed with the disease it was kept hush-hush. Fortunately, now that we know the statistics on this epidemic and understand the financial drain it will have on our economy, we've really brought it into the public eye.

I was just a child and no one ever really explained it to me. I didn't understand why my grandmother was afraid of water. She didn't want to take a shower and she fought the staff at the nursing home. It was painful to watch.

Fortunately, I didn't have to watch her decline on a day to day basis because she became so ill that my aunt in North Carolina had to help take care of my grandfather and my grandmother needed a safer environment. My aunt couldn't take care of her and she had to be moved to a nursing home. We lived in Maryland and only made it down once or twice a year at best. 

In the end she didn't remember me and would call me by my mother’s name. Except it began slowly and started with little things. My grandmother used to read me stories and as she was reading I would have to remind her about how the story went. Eventually, I told her the stories. But I didn't understand why this was happening and it came long before anyone knew there was something terribly wrong. The subtle signs and symptoms happened at a time when I was too young to be able to articulate that I noticed something wasn't quite right.

When you lose someone in your family to this disease it’s a heavy weight because you don't lose them all at once. You lose them in pieces over the years. I didn't think about what it must feel like for my grandmother because I was young. Now that I’m an adult I've often wondered what her experience was like and I fear that this might happen to me one day because of genetics. However, the uncanny thing about Alzheimer’s is that true familial Alzheimer’s only accounts for a small percentage of cases.  

I’m including a video that shares what Alzheimer’s is like for someone trying to go about their daily routine from the perspective of the patient as she tries to make coffee. It also explains what Alzheimer’s is all about without going into medical terminology.

Sorry… No vervet monkeys today. Today is Friday. Maybe I should have blogged this yesterday and blogged the monkeys today. Opps!

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