Don’t You Forget About Me

One of my biggest fears in life is that eventually I might have my mind turn against me and find myself forgetting the details of my life, lost in the murky waters of Alzheimer’s.

I try not to dwell on it, after all I don’t want the powers that be thinking I want to get Alzheimer’s, but the idea that I won’t recognize my family and friends is terrifying. I had a group of friends and family over on Sunday and one of husband’s friends brought his mother over to socialize. She has been battling Alzheimer’s for a couple of years now, steadily falling deeper and deeper into its grip. I watched her struggle so valiantly to try to cover up her confusion, but it kept popping up. At one point she referred to her son as her brother, and thought she was at work trying to sell us something. It was heartbreaking. 

For all the grief, stress and struggles I’ve dealt with, I think perhaps they are nothing compared to what husband’s friend has to deal with on a daily basis. He now lives with his mother and takes care of her. He has almost lost his job several times because he would get calls in the middle of the day that his mother was out and wandering the streets and he’d have to leave and go bring her back home. He has almost no social life and feels like he can’t date anyone either. Just this last week he got into an accident at work and lost 3 of his fingertips. He won’t be able to use his right arm for a couple of months. Now he’s freaking out about his hand and finances on top of all the other stress in his life.

We made him two weeks worth of dinners to try to help out, and offered to help in any way we could. He tries to resist our help out of pride or stubbornness though. At some point I don’t think he will be able to continue to care for his mother on his own. For right now she at least recognizes him most of the time which makes it easier to get her to do things, but what happens when she thinks he’s a stranger and tries to defend herself against him? What happens when she forgets how to use the bathroom on her own, forgets how to eat? At what point do you hand the reigns of care over to the professionals? I think he’ll hold out until the bitter end, trying so valiantly to do it all himself.

Alzheimer’s is a shitty condition and one of the least dignified ways to die. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone. If anyone out there has any wisdom regarding dealing with Alzheimer’s please let me know. They are great people, I’d like to be able to help the guy and his mom out as much as possible.