What do you do when the person you knew all your life turns into a cruel person who verbally attacks others on purpose just to make you angry? You can't do anything because you know its not them anymore. So, you’re torn between reacting or forcefully brushing it off, knowing either way there’s going to be a fight over it. Nothing you do or say will change their mind. Nothing you can do or say will make you good enough in their eyes.
They say how mean you are. They always find something to complain about even when you’ve tried your best to make them happy. It feels like an uphill battle that you can never win, no matter what you do. The person you once knew is gone to a disease of the mind. A corruption that corrupts all. It changes the person mutates them into something you don’t recognize anymore. It kills you to think that this is the same person you have known all your life.
Their whole personality shifts making you wonder if this is the side they have been hiding. It destroys any since of normalcy. It distorts the way you see that person, even though you knew who they once were, and this isn’t them anymore. You can’t have a peaceful day without something going wrong in some sort of way. The smallest things annoy them, even if it was done months ago. They say how they want to leave, but you can’t let them. What if they got lost? What if they have an accident and can’t remember who the emergency personnel need to call? What if they kill someone in an accident?
With their memories fading in and out. You go from their granddaughter to their daughter or their niece or something to that effect. They believe people are still alive even though they have died. They become confused and lost when you tell them differently. Going so far as to tell you that you’re lying to them about it. Also saying that they just moved into your home when its actually their home you came to just to help them. They don’t remember being in this home for 30 years and they don’t know where anything is.
They catch cravings for certain things and if you don’t get it for them, they get angry and sometimes refuse to eat. Sometimes you have to refuse to eat just to get them to eat anything. Its hard to deal with. Its hard to handle, but because you love this person you refuse to leave them or put them in a home. Its harder on you but you refuse to do so because so many of the elderly are put in those are abused, neglected or basically abandoned by their families and you refuse to let that happen to them.
You do the grocery shopping, you do the cleaning, you do the cooking, you do the driving to the doctors that want to see them, you pay the bills for them. It becomes a trial everyday to get anything done. You have to pick and choose what you do to keep them happy while getting things done. You have to do the work of two or more people at a time. You keep reminding yourself that it’s not them it’s the disease that’s corrupted them. You keep trying and keep pushing hoping that maybe they’ll snap out of it, but you know there no coming out of this. Eventually they’ll lose everything they ever knew.
They won’t remember you. They won’t remember they’re friends or other family members. They won’t remember where they are. They won’t remember what year it is or time of day. They won’t remember how to go to the bathroom or bathe or dress or feed themselves. They’ll forget how to speak. How walk. How to breathe… Eventually the disease will take everything leaving you and family with only memories of how they once were. This disease destroys families. Everyone in direct contact with them is affected by it.
There’s nothing doctors can do except slow it down and give you a little more time with them as themselves before they lose it all. You’re forced to sit and watch the strong person you knew wither away into nothing. You know how much of a strain this is on you and your little ones. You know how much it hurts to deal with this. You know you’re fighting a losing battle, but you keep pushing through anyways for them. It kills you to know there’s nothing that can be done, and you’re forced to sit on your hands and watch.
You want to know why this is happening, but no one has the answer. You want to know how this happened, but no one knows that answer either. You feel so lost and upset because no one knows anything about this disease. They just do basic measures to keep them alive a little longer and that’s it. You’re left with the daunting task of knowing what’s coming next and that you alone are going to have to handle it.
You’re resigned to this knowing that no matter how hard you try; you can’t fix this. You have to cry yourself to sleep knowing one day you’re going to wake up, but they aren’t. You try to make them as comfortable as you can and try extremely hard not get angry with them when they start complaining. You try to do all that they ask of you so they will stay happy and not cause in trouble. You love them and stubbornly refuse to abandon them when they truly need you must. The disease is Alzheimer’s and it takes away the person you knew. The harsh reality is that you can’t fix this, but you can at least be there for them and make them comfortable.
An estimated 5.8 million Americans age 65 or older are living with Alzheimer’s in 2020. 80% are age 75 or older. One in ten people age 65 and older har Alzheimer’s. Two-thirds of Americans with the disease are women.
Alzheimer’s disease is the sixth leading cause of death in the United States. It is fifth leading cause of death among those age 65 and older, also a leading cause of disability and poor health. Between 2000 and 2018, the number of deaths from Alzheimer’s disease as recorded on death certificates has more than doubled. (Facts taken from alz.org)
Thank you for reading. This one was just as hard as some of the others I have written, but this one is an ongoing thing. Please pray for my grandmother, my family and me. This disease just destroys the person they once were and in some way, it destroys you.