Alzheimer's Disease - Brenda's Story
“Alzheimer's... it’s rapidly becoming a household word. Each year more and more people are having to face this disease. I believe that almost every household knows someone who has it or is caring for a loved one with this disease.
My own story began long before my mother was finally diagnosed. I say finally because often it is hard to show even the medical profession that there is a problem. My mom was extremely good at covering her tracks in the beginning. Even I was fooled for many years. The first symptoms are usually a loss of memory and loss of concentration. I saw this but blamed it on the aging process. My mother also had a sense of humor that helped her to hide what she was secretly going through. This included her own Doctors.
I used to take her for her appointments and had suggested to the doctor that she may have AD. He talked to her in the examine room then took her back to his office. He asked her what they had just talked about and she responded with: "Well doctor, you were there so if you don't know then I am not about to repeat it for you!" He thought that was quite witty and therefore she was alert and ok. He never got the full picture until one day I decided he needed a wake up call. I let her go into his office alone while I waited in the waiting room. Took all of five minutes when he came back out and said: "She tried to escape naked out the back door!!!! This woman needs constant care!" I think this was a true wake-up call for him as his own mother was diagnosed shortly after that.
This disease is especially cruel because it robs its victim – and all they ever were - a little at a time. It not only affects them but everyone who is close to them. All sufferers eventually need a full time caregiver and that is usually a family member. It is an emotional roller coaster ride for everyone involved. It drains the caregiver emotionally, physically and often financially. Although almost everyone has now heard of Alzheimer's Disease most do not fully understand it. Life time friends begin to visit less and less until they just don't come anymore. It may be because they are uncomfortable or at a loss for words. Families disagree with how to cope with "mom/dad" or just plain hide their heads because they can't cope at all. At a time when all should be supporting, they are often split apart.
There seems to be much guilt involved in caring for anyone (am I doing all that I can and the right things?), I think maybe more so with this disease because you didn't pick up on it earlier. The signs may have been there but you missed them. You tend to blame yourself for not seeing the big picture. You are always wondering if you are doing everything you can for them. You become impatient with them which produces even more guilt for feeling that way when they are not in control of their emotions or feelings.
I will never regret caring for my mom. She was there for me when I was a child and I was there for her when she became child like. As she was fading, I was growing in my closeness to her even though she did not remember who I was. I truly believe that even though they are losing all recognition of those around them, there is one thing that remains. They know love and can feel it when all other senses are disappearing. While this disease may destroy the mind and body, it cannot destroy the spirit within us.
My advice to anyone who is dealing with an Alzheimer's victim...have lots of patience, knowledge of the disease, and plenty of love and hugs for them. Treasure each day you have with your loved one while you are able. There are many bad days but the few good ones are treasures that cannot be measured. If you don't know God, I would say: Get to know him, invite him to help you and talk to him often!!!! Joining a support group either on line or off is also a big help.”
Read the heartbreaking letter that Brenda wrote to her mother on the day she reluctantly placed her in the care of a nursing home: Read Brenda's Letter
If you’d like to discuss any of these issues with Brenda, you can contact her via:firstname.lastname@example.org or join our and send a personal message to "brace47."