afghan

Mom SchulenbergMost of us have watched the movie Groundhog’s Day before, and thought that it was a funny show, and it was…at least for a while. Then, it got to the point where you, like the character in the show, thought this was ridiculous. You already know what is going to happen, because it has happened over and over again. For most of us, this scenario would be a serious annoyance, but for my mother-in-law, this is her life…and she isn’t bothered by it at all…nor am I. I suppose that because most people think of Alzheimer’s Disease only in it’s negative aspects, they think that the loss of recent memory is the most horrible thing that could happen to a person, and in the area of new additions to a family, that is true to a degree, but while it is sad that this grandmother will never really remember the new in-laws that arrive from the marriages of her children or grandchildren, nor will she ever know her new grandchildren, and yes…that is very sad for us…but she will never feel that sadness. Nor will she ever feel the sadness of loss, and that is a good thing in my mind.

Most of us go through many times of loss and sadness during our lifetime, but those with Alzheimer’s Disease don’t. We can think of Alzheimer’s Disease as a horrible end of things, and since I have never seen the very end of the disease, I can’t say that it doesn’t end horribly, but between the beginning and the end of it, there can be some very funny times. Things like not wanting to go to bed until someone comes to tell them if they won a prize or not, and then when they are told that the awards ceremony is the next night, they go to bed without question. It all depends on what things they were interested in before. My mother-in-law liked the thought of winning the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes, so that was the illusion her mind came up with, and that was my answer to it.

I am thankful that her life was filled with good things, so that her memories are sweet and not scary, because I also think that Alzheimer’s Disease can be very torturous for those who have memories of sad or scary times…like being lost for instance. I would hate to think of that kind of a memory being the kind that was running through my mother-in-law’s head, and sadly I have seen people with the disease who live with that memory over and over again. Nothing can be done, but to comfort their worried mind…over and over again. I can only feel bad for them and for their families.

From what I have seen of Alzheimer’s Disease, every action taken by the patient has more logic to it than people know. While the person who is asking for help over and over before asking someone to let them in, has probably been locked out of the house at night before, the person, like my mother-in-law, might pour her drink into her plate, because pureed food looks like oatmeal to her. She is also known to play with a blanket or napkin or nothing at all, and yet she is doing something very specific. If you know her like I do, you realize that she is working of an afghan or a potholder or a dishcloth, because for years she made those things, and she thinks she still is. I guess, when you think about it, all they really need is someone to understand that they are stuck in a time loop.

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