More than 5 million Americans are living with Alzheimer’s today. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, “Alzheimer’s is a type of dementia that causes problems with memory, thinking and behavior. Symptoms usually develop slowly and get worse over time, becoming severe enough to interfere with daily tasks.”
A friend of mine has a mother with Alzheimer’s disease living in England. She shared her emotional difficulty with me regarding the loss she experienced even though her mother is still alive. Coping with a parent with Alzheimer’s is a very different kind of loss that occurs long before that parent actually dies. The depth of my friend’s pain in losing her relationship with her mother was palpable.
The havoc this disease can wreak within individuals and families is not to be underestimated. My friend’s brother, who lives close to her mother, committed suicide over a year ago, leaving my friend utterly shocked and devastated. That was nothing any of their family saw coming.
Prior to writing my book, Final Years Stories of Parent Care, Loss and Lives Changed, I interviewed quite a few people. Not every story made it into my book for various reasons. Words of wisdom from one woman’s story whose mother suffered from Alzheimer’s disease are worth sharing for anyone with a loved one living with this terrible affliction.
Daughter of an Alzheimer’s Patient Speaks
“I learned from the Alzheimer’s Association to talk to your parent with Alzheimer’s early. If you have Alzheimer’s, write your wishes down early.
A friend of mine said this to me about my mother with Alzheimer’s disease. ‘She’s always in there. You won’t see it but she is still that person. Just remember that. She is still who she is. Always treat her with that respect, love and attention that you ever would have.’
But it was the loss of that person who you can chat with. When the kids needed Halloween costumes, I found myself wondering, ‘where was my seamstress?’”
Her painfully poignant words have stayed with me.
For more resources, information and to learn more about Alzheimer’s disease please visit the Alzheimer’s Association.