For my Grandfather and Others
Years ago, I watched my grandfather change, in small ways and then increasingly bigger ways, as he progressed through the stages of Alzheimer’s. As his symptoms became more pronounced, I noticed it was somewhat easier for me to deal with the behavioral changes than for my mother, his daughter. Where I was more quick to acknowledge the disease in these changes, my mother seemed to struggle with these developments. “I’ve never heard him say anything like that before” or, “he’s never done anything like this before”.
The strong and independent man my mother had known all her life was changing and disappearing as Alzheimer’s progressed.
To me, dementia is a thief; a thief who seems to be capable of stealing our very existence.
Additionally, from my experience, interacting with or caring for someone with dementia, can often be a minefield of difficult emotions when personality or behavior changes occur.
In the advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease for example, we may become a stranger to a person with impaired and declining mental abilities . If this is someone we have known and loved for many years, it can be heartbreaking.
After saying all that, there is still something I truly believe. While I do believe dementia is a thief, taking and destroying, I also believe it cannot steal our loved one’s existence, the life they’ve lived or the person they truly are. These are the things we must try to find a way to hold on to.
Alzheimer’s disease is a common form of dementia. Alzheimer’s can change someone’s personality and behavior. This disease can complicate and diminish a person’s ability to communicate with others. Furthermore, in addition to it’s effects on memory, the progression of Alzheimer’s creates challenging obstacles to everyday life. I would like to point out that while Alzheimer’s is the most well known kind of dementia, there are in fact quite a few other, Different Types of Dementia.
Alzheimer’s brings unwelcome changes as it progresses. However, no matter what changes or losses may occur with memory, the ability to communicate, interact or function, I believe our loved one is still there; beneath the anguishing symptoms we see. To believe this can be both comforting and at the same time, miserably painful.
Dementia and Family Dynamics
Dementia and caregiving can often lead to clashes with other family members. This is not a judgement, just a true statement of the inevitable fact that different people have different opinions about everything and this is often true for dementia and caregiving.
“Different opinions” is a good thing in my opinion, however sometimes our differing opinions can potentially cause strong negative emotions and undesirable conflict.
Myself and all of us need to find a way to move forward, to not get bogged down or stuck in a negative situation and try to prevent damaging family conflicts. Sometimes with caregiving, this is challenging to do. Oh yes, we also need to remember the main reason we might be clashing as a family in the first place – providing care for our loved one with dementia. There are several links below of resources for dementia and family dynamics.
What is Alzheimer’s Disease?
Video below from AboutAlzOrg
Stages of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease – Mental Health – NCLEX-RN – Khan Academy
Video below from khanacademymedicine
I found the film, Still Mine to be very powerful, heartwarming and moving. If Alzheimer’s and dementia have impacted your life, I feel that you can find this film to be very relatable. If you have not been exposed to dementia personally in your life, this is a very good story to allow some insight into some of the challenges, difficulties and even triumphs that people have experienced.
Writer/director Michael McGowan’s Still Mine is the story of Craig Morrison, a Canadian man who fights the red-tape maze of bureaucracy so he can build a small home for his wife, Irene, as she slips into late-life dementia.
STILL MINE – Official Trailer
Video below from Samuel Goldwyn Films
Note: At the time of this writing, the movie Still Mine is currently available on Amazon Prime Video.
Help With Planning for the Financial Impacts of Dementia
Link to Help With Planning for the Financial Impacts of Dementia here.