Alzheimer's is a word that strikes fear in our hearts almost as much as cancer does. No one wants to experience this disease nor does anyone want to see someone they love go through it.
That was how I felt. I prayed that would NEVER happen to my mother. But, it did. To be precise, my mother suffered from one of the many forms of dementia known as vascular dementia (although doctors felt she probably also suffered from Alzheimer's as well.)
You see many people lump all forms of dementia under the well known term of “Alzheimer's”, while in fact, Alzheimer's is only one of a host of manifestations of dementia, which is the umbrella of all sorts of illnesses which affect the memory.
But, make no mistake... they are ALL life-changing and life-disrupting.
For those who have not been exposed to someone with dementia, it is commonly thought that the most significant change is that regarding memory loss as it relates to things like “where did I put my keys?”, “remembering names”, “recognizing faces”, etc. It is true that dementia DOES bring about those things, but it affects a person in so many other ways. And each person is different in how the disease is manifested in them.
A person loses the ability to reason, to think logically which in turn causes them at times to make bad, even dangerous decisions. At times, they create their own reality, and if you are not careful, you will not even realize what they are saying is not true. It causes them to not be able to process things such as operating their remote or following a simple recipe. Too many things in front of them confuses them. It's almost like they can only focus on one object at a time. Disrupting their routine can also greatly frustrate them. These are just a few of the ways this disease can affect a person that most people have never heard of or thought about.
It is a disease that creeps up on you, in most cases. With my mother, I was the first to notice that something was just not right, though I was hoping against hope that I was wrong. But, as with most people, since that is the last thing we WANT it to be, we try to rationalize the signs away. “It's just age”, “She's just not listening or paying attention”, “We ALL forget things once in a while.” Mother would repeat herself, telling the same stories again and again. I would tell her something on the phone and 10 minutes later she would call and ask me numerous questions about what we had just talked about, and in 20 minutes or so, would repeat the whole scenario over again. She began forgetting appointments, where she was supposed to be, and eventually how to get there.
I began to seek professional help, but found that to be seriously lacking!! For Alzheimer's and related diseases to be so prevalent today, it was appalling to me that doctors, in general, were so ill-equipped to give advice or guidance. I wanted someone to tell me how to navigate this road I'd suddenly been sent down, but it seemed the help was minimal. The best advice I got and the most help I got came from a wonderful counselor at Page Robbins Adult Care Center. She opened my eyes to the reality of where I was. She was not afraid to say what needed to be said. I will never forget the day she said to me “Your mother is worse than you think and the day is coming sooner than you think when you are going to need to make some decisions. You need a plan!” She also provided me with a book that further opened my eyes, THE 36 HOUR DAY. I sought her help again and again in the months ahead and I will be forever grateful for her being there for me.
This journey was one I never wanted to take, but God had other plans. And though it was a painful one, He taught me many things on this journey that I would not trade for anything. He blessed me in ways I never would have dreamed. He showed up for me over and over and over again. He is a good, good Father!!! He was faithful every step of the way. And when no one else could understand, He did. When I felt I could not go on, He carried me.
So I am walking in this WALK FOR ALZHEIMER'S this coming Saturday so that maybe one day, no one will ever have to watch their loved one go through what we did. I walk so that those who are on this journey can have better resources, so more doctors can be trained to help and counsel the caregivers who are desperately seeking answers for how to care for and respond to the changes in their loved one. I walk because every day I hear of someone else whose loved one is battling this disease or one of the many other forms of dementia. I walk in memory of my Mother and to honor her.
I hope YOU will join me in this fight to end this dreaded disease by going to my page at the link below and donating whatever you can....$5.00, $25.00, or more. Is there someone you know who is on this journey today? Do it for them. Every dollar matters. Thanks in advance for your contribution!! God bless you!!