My father-in-law, Ron, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s several years ago. When first diagnosed, it was sad to see the fear and frustration in Ron’s eyes when he struggled to remember things so natural to him. Later those memories just faded away completely, and he no longer realized they were a memory at all.
It is such a strange disease. You would assume those memories from long ago would be the ones forgotten, but it is the current ones. It was hard to hear my mother-in-law tell us, that when Ron saw my son’s photo on the table and said “that is a good looking kid”, but had no idea who he was.
At one of our volunteer meetings, someone shared some amazing advice. When your loved one mentions someone who perhaps has passed or they calls you by a name of someone from the past, just go with it. Just let them talk. Instead of bringing them back to your world, jump into theirs. You will hear stories of their earlier life that you may have never heard before. I shared that advice with my mother-in-law, and it was true.
For Ron’s birthday this year, Mark drove him to Ellington, MO where his dad grew up. It is a VERY small town and is probably still similar to what he remembered, one gas station and one grocery store. Mark drove him all around town, by the house he grew up in, and to the cemetery where his parents were buried. Ron doesn’t like to leave home much these days, but the closer they got to Ellington, and he started recognizing things, the more chatty he got. Mark was so happy he took his dad. His dad may not remember the trip much longer, but Mark will always cherish that time, because of the stories his dad shared and most importantly to see how happy his dad was to be in a familiar place. Many times, he doesn’t remember his current house of almost 40 years and asks my mother-in-law when they are going home.
This is such a horrible disease, and I am sure everyone knows at least one person who has this disease. WE ALL MUST GET INVOLVED TO HELP FIGHT THIS DISEASE. If you are one of the lucky ones, who does not personally know someone suffering from this disease, it is just a matter of time. More than 6 million are living with this disease today, and that number continues to grow. Unfortunately, 1 in 3 seniors dies from this disease or another dementia.
ARE YOU READY TO JOIN THIS FIGHT? THERE ARE 2 WAYS YOU CAN HELP:
1. Join/Form a Team and participate in the walk on September 25.
2. Make a Donation to advance the care, support, and research efforts of the Alzheimer's Association.
Thank you for joining the fight against Alzheimer's!
Mark and Patty Taylor
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
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