My mother-in-law has Alzheimer’s Disease, and as you know, the cherished memories new, and later on even the old ones, begin to slip. Soon they will be lost forever. One of the best things the family can do for her is to help her to remember things. Old memories, and important data, as well as who these people in her house are. We try to keep her current on those things, in the hope that her quality of life can remain good for just a little bit longer.
Recently, after several bad bouts with pneumonia, several stays in the hospital, and finally a little more than two weeks in a nursing home getting rehab because her muscles were very weak, we have had a little more trouble triggering her memory. Her environment was not her normal, and my father-in-law was not right beside her to help keep that process going, so her cherished memories have slipped more. She was having trouble remembering her dad’s first name…something she normally gets right away. And when asked about her favorite horse, she couldn’t remember Molly’s name.
My daughter, Corrie had taken my father-in-law, her grandpa up to see her grandma, and ended up hearing information she hadn’t heard before. Today at lunch, she mentioned that she didn’t know that her grandmother had owned a horse…much less that she loved to ride, and spent as much time on her horse, Molly as she possibly could. I suppose Corrie wouldn’t have heard much about Molly, because my mother-in-law owned Molly when she was a teenager. Still, I guess we all just thought her grandchildren knew about the years when their grandparents spent much time living and working on ranches in Montana. We were wrong.
When you live on a ranch, it is quite common for the kids to ride horses to visit friends. Who needed a car when you had a horse, and you didn’t have to be 16 years old with a driver’s license to “drive” one either. So, that is what kids who lived on ranches did, and still do today, and my mother-in-law was a very good horse woman. She loved horses, and most especially Molly, her very favorite horse.
Sadly, as her Alzheimer’s Disease progresses, she is losing many of her memories. Mostly the newer ones, it’s true, but we also see that she forgets people she doesn’t see very much, and also forgets about things that she hasn’t seen or done in a long time. We try to remind her about her life by doing regular memory work, and much of the time she remembers Molly’s name at least, although I don’t know if she would know what Molly looked like. It’s that way with people too. She doesn’t remember the new people who come into her life, but figures it out when we remind her who they are, and she remembers the names of people from her past for the most part, but probably wouldn’t recognize them if she saw them. All we can do is keep reminding her on a daily basis, of who she was and hope that it will allow her to have one more day of remembering things like…Molly.