I actually didn’t want to do this post. Because if I don’t talk about it, I don’t have to think about it. I don’t have to think about the reality of how much my dad has declined over the past year from Alzheimer’s.
Put on some purple tomorrow, Friday, September 21st for Alzheimer’s Action Day. That’s all I was going to say. Just a quick shout out for Alzheimer’s Action Day. But I think for people to fully understand what Alzheimer’s is and what it does to your loved one and to those in their life, I need to share. We aren’t talking about losing car keys, we are talking about losing yourself.
It’s been about 5 years since we first learned my dad had Alzheimer’s. At first it was shocking, but then it made sense. Now I understood why I was so frustrated by conversations with my dad and why he was becoming suddenly anti-social. We are talking about a social butterfly kind of man here.
He started to avoid social opportunities because he was frustrated with his inability to find the words. That’s my theory anyways. Once he was diagnosed, he started coming back around more. However, I believe the first year was the worst year for him. He was still very aware and just struggling with the changes in his mind. It was beyond frustrating and emotional. I remember picking him up from work (he stopped driving when he was diagnosed) and he was utterly exhausted with frustration and came to my car in tears.
As the years went on, he seemed to come to terms with it, so it was more like riding the wave. I took comfort in the fact I could tell he still knew us. And was surprised by things he would know or remember. It’s an up and down disease. Some days are good and some are bad.
Interestingly, his core was still there. I know that’s not the case for everyone. It can change a docile personality to an aggressive personality. Luckily, in our case, I can still see the glimmer of spirit deep in his eyes. He still appreciates a good joke, story or comedy and of course a good sporting event. He may laugh out of context at times, but he still enjoys a good comedy.
We are at the point where we have to decide if it makes sense to take him certain places. He comes over every Wednesday so my mom can have some time to herself. This past year, I’ve noticed a huge decline during his visits. His walking is much worse, so much worse. Conversations are fairly limited if any at all. I ask him if he wants salami on his sandwich and he doesn’t know what salami is. I show it to him and he still doesn’t know. He goes to the refrigerator to put something away and doesn’t know how to open it. I ask for the remote and he points to the lamp.
He’s ready to take a nap the minute he walks in the door. I try to keep him awake for a bit, but eventually he starts to fall asleep. He only likes to eat with his fingers and eats a sandwich layer by layer now. First the bread, then the meat, then the bread. On his visit this past Wednesday, he barely ate and could barely stay awake. Watching him walk was heartbreaking.
What most people don’t know, and what I didn’t know at first, is that Alzheimer’s is a fatal disease. It’s not just memory loss. Brain cells are being destroyed to the point that a person is unable to function and organs eventually stop functioning. Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in the U.S. and it is the only disease on the top 10 list that can’t be prevented, cured or slowed.
Alzheimer’s sucks away your loved one’s life.
Alzheimer’s sucks away a caregiver’s energy.
Alzheimer’s just plain sucks!
So I ask you to join me by putting on some purple tomorrow to help create awareness about this horrible, horrible disease.
Feel free to spread the word to friends on facebook, twitter or instagram. Post a picture of you and your family sportin some purple and why. Let’s go viral with purple!
If you’d like more information about Alzheimer’s or how to donate, click here.
You can also shop for the cause here.
I just got this cool bracelet here.