Will They Ever be Answered?
Not sure that is likely
While researchers seek a cure or treatment for Alzheimer’s, I wish they would study and report what people with Alzheimer’s feel and think. With all the time they are spending with the ‘subjects,’ I hope they are gathering data on what remains in their minds. There are so many questions I wish they could answer. Questions that may never be answered.
On a recent visit to see mom, one of the aides said two different mornings she had asked, “Where’s Dale?” (her husband, my father). I haven’t heard her mention Dad in a long time. Yesterday she asked where her purse was. Something she hasn’t used or mentioned in over six or seven years.
To be honest, while it pleases and surprises me that she has those glimpses, it also makes me a little nervous. I’ve heard many family members say that their parent or spouse had moments of clarity, when it seemed they knew you and remembered, not long before they died. A sweet gift from God, tell them you love them one last time, and have them acknowledge and respond before they go. No, it doesn’t always happen.
Those glimpses have made me consider how often her memories might come and go. Dad died over three years ago, while they were living in this same facility. I’ve wondered if she remembers him, and was pleased that she does sometimes. Does she look for him? How often? How much does she remember? After all they were married seventy years.
"I Belong To You."
The only words she needed
I could see she was reassuring herself, that she wasn’t alone, that she knew we were connected. She probably couldn’t have identified me, but she knew I was hers. She used the words she could come up with to express that.
It touched me so, not only for what she said, but because it hit me that if you are lost in your mind, how good it must be to know you do belong to someone. Which I suppose is why she always holds my hand too, fingers entwined.
How steadying that must seem, like an anchor to a boat that’s adrift in a storm. I don’t know why I didn’t think about that before. I’ll see their adjustment, how they cope, but hadn’t thought much of how unsettled it must feel within their minds.
Holding Hands is Holding On
Comfort, reassurance, presence, all in one little gesture
Try to imagine how you would feel if you couldn’t remember most of who you are. Seems like holding on to someone’s hand would feel like you are holding on to you life. I know it’s much harder to see and accept if you are a spouse, but I hope you will take comfort that they are comforted.
They do what they can, what they remember, to feel a sense of normalcy in their lives. Sometimes that means they form connections as if they are a couple. Honestly, if that brings them comfort—and it does—isn’t that all right?
The Amazing Brain
Still functioning after much loss
For most the short term goes first, but the past, their childhood memories, linger. Often a resident will remark that they are waiting for their mother to pick them up. Towards the end, though he didn’t have Alzheimer’s, Dad kept thinking he was in Nebraska, in the town where he grew up. But does Mom remember sometimes too? I thought she was past that. I wish I knew.
What do they remember? Do have have an hour spread throughout a day when things come back to them? When she is alone, does she realize her family isn’t there? Does she get scared wondering where we are or is she not really able to think of us at all? I wish I knew.
All Time Best Present for Aging Seniors
With or without Alzheimer's
Amazon Price: $79.99 $19.99 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 26, 2014)
Something to Cuddle
Animal or baby doll
Amazon Price: $30.00 $22.39 Buy Now
(price as of Aug 26, 2014)