I joined the Alzheimer’s Disease Awareness Month Blog Tour due to personal experience. In my teens, my grandfather suffered a form of Alzheimer’s combined with dementia and ended up losing his home and much of his possessions before anyone realized he was unable to take care of them and defend himself from con artists. It was a terrible time and as he was living with my family we continued to be baffled by his odd behavior. Like many families who don’t understand the disease and/or don’t recognize the symptoms, my family operated under the mistaken idea that Grandpa could be persuaded to “buck up” and get his act together if we simply continued to expect more from him than he was capable of and gave him a hard enough time for letting us down.
It doesn’t work. It just makes everyone miserable. In fact, some of the persuasion methods used in my home were ill-advised for use on healthy people, too, but that’s a side issue. I want to send an “I really do get it” to everyone struggling with watching an aging relative lose the ability to take care of themselves and having memory problems.
Let’s try to imagine what it is like for our loved ones. You who have been an independent adult in many ways are losing adult functions and returning to a child state. You have a growing need for Mommy and Daddy to come take care of you. Mommy and Daddy are long gone. You’re also losing your memory and ability to understand this.
Memories are important. Good or ill, they shape us, mold our character. Each experience captured in our memories is a vital part of who we are, even our wounds, sometimes especially our wounds. This is, incidentally, a core problem in the Web Surfer series; the hero is a genetically modified boy-AI hybrid forced to be in multiple places at once in a cyberspace made of matrix-like digital worlds. Each version of him is subject to a user who can customize him as they please. He combats this vicious assault on the integrity of his person by separating his “human mind” from his “AI mind,” which frees his human mind to help with AI mind’s constant task of synchronizing his broken pieces’ lives and help him maintain a core true identity, one that feels eons old in his late teens.
Perhaps one of my greatest influences for such a scary fictional assault was Alzheimer’s scary real-life assault. There is no cure. We cannot save ourselves if we get it or our loved ones if they get it. All we can do is love the person we knew, be gracious about the new limits of who the disease makes them, and trust God. If we know him, if our loved ones know him, he will restore us/our loved one as good as new in His Kingdom Come.
To close, in case someone with an undiagnosed relative stumbles onto my blog before they find this information on WebMD, here are seven warning signs of Alzheimer’s:
- Asking the same question over and over again.
- Repeating the same story, word for word, again and again.
- Forgetting how to cook, or how to make repairs, or how to play cards – activities that were previously done with ease and regularity.
- Losing one’s ability to pay bills or balance one’s checkbook.
- Getting lost in familiar surroundings, or misplacing household objects.
- Neglecting to bathe, or wearing the same clothes over and over again, while insisting that they have taken a bath or that their clothes are still clean.
- Relying on someone else, such as a spouse, to make decisions or answer questions they previously would have handled themselves.
WebMD also notes, “If someone has several or even most of these symptoms, it does not mean they definitely have the disease. It does mean they should be thoroughly examined by a medical specialist trained in evaluating memory disorders, such as a neurologist or a psychiatrist, or by a comprehensive memory disorder clinic, with an entire team of expert knowledge about memory problems.”
You may also want to review this link from WebMD: Alzheimer’s Disease Symptoms
Andrea Graham studied creative writing and religion at Ashland University, has been envisioning fantastic worlds since age six, and has been writing science fiction novels since she was fourteen. She’s signed a contract for her Web Surfer books with Helping Hands Press and has co-authored novels that were primarily by her husband, Adam Graham. She encourages readers at christsglory.com and offers assistance to writers at povbootcamp.com. Andrea and Adam live with their cat, Joybell, in Boise, Idaho.
Find me on: