In 2004, my father was diagnosed with Parkinson’s-related dementia and a few months later, my mother with Alzheimer’s disease. That was the year I became a caregiver. While my parents didn’t reside with me, I was still intimately involved in their daily care for the next 4 and 5 years. Traveling down that rabbit hole of dementia with my parents was difficult and sad. I watched helplessly as this disease steadily and ruthlessly chipped away at their brains, one memory at a time. That said, it was also a time of considerable personal growth for me. I learned to parent my parents with patience and compassion, caring for them much as they’d cared for me as a child so many years before. Interspersed with the challenges were times of fleeting lucidity, as well as moments of poignant tenderness, which I still remember and cherish, even today. These are moments I would have missed forever, had I not been a family caregiver.
When coping with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s easy to feel alone. The disease can be isolating. Not talked about as often as other ailments, there’s a stigma associated with losing memories, a certain shame. There shouldn’t be. It’s as uncontrollable as cancer, and yet there’s a shroud of silence that surrounds it. This silence leads to a denial of symptoms. Which may be why, according to a 2006 study by the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA), a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s is delayed an average of 27.8 months after symptoms appear.
Healing comes from eliminating this silence. Talking enables us to cope, helping us realize Continue reading
It was the weekend of our family reunion and almost everyone was gathered together at my parent’s condo to celebrate a milestone. Our patriarch, my dad, was turning 90. When the front doorbell rang, Mom opened the door, took one look at her oldest granddaughter and asked in a perplexed tone of voice, “Who are you?” After a moment of silence, we all laughed a little uncomfortably, but brushed it off, rationalizing the comment as a manifestation of Mom’s stress in caring for Dad, who had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease. It was not mentioned again.
Our family continued to somehow normalize or overlook the ever-increasing signs that Continue reading
Welcome to my blog!
Have you known someone with dementia/Alzheimer’s disease? Do you have a story to tell? My intent for this blog is to share thoughts, insights, and even opinions about this insidious mind-stealer called dementia.
As you will see, this first post is a collaborative effort among 5 authors of books about dementia/Alzheimer’s. What better time to begin a blog than June, Alzheimer’s Awareness month?
Beyond Still Alice: 5 Alzheimer’s Books You May Have Missed
This is not just our parents’ disease. It’s a problem that has far-reaching complications, not only wreaking havoc in the life of the one afflicted, but in the lives of all those surrounding him or her: spouse, children, grandchildren, siblings, friends, caregivers, and the greater community. Its impact is exponential: For each one of the 5.3 million Americans diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, there are another 5.3 million (at the very least) affected. (Alz.org) These people are our families, neighbors, co-workers, friends, and acquaintances. As our lives intersect and intertwine, this disease affects all of us.
June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month. Take some time this month to learn more about this illness, to understand what it means to those who love someone afflicted, to those who dedicate themselves to seeing they are cared for, and ensuring that their lives continue to have meaning and dignity. Continue reading