My grandfather passed away 2 1/2 weeks ago, and I brought my dear grandmother home to live with me. Alzheimer’s disease has cruelly stolen away many of her memories and normal mental functions. It’s painful to helplessly watch the confusion and frustration that she deals with every day, not to mention the sad look in her eyes when she asks where her husband is.
While some forgetfulness is a normal part of life, Alzheimer’s Disease, a degenerative brain disorder that attacks the nerve cells of the brain cortex and some surrounding areas, causes such a decline in cognitive abilities that the individual is eventually unable carry out basic daily activities, such as dressing, eating, and going to the bathroom without assistance.
Although the exact cause of this condition is not known for certain, there is some evidence that the same lifestyle factors that help prevent diabetes and heart disease can also prevent mental decline. Researchers believe that a healthful diet, plenty of outdoor physical exercise, and avoiding tobacco and alcohol may reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
No two people experience this disease in the same way, so there is no “set” rule for how to care for someone with Alzheimers, but it is usually quite challenging and can often be overwhelming. Though the same questions may be repeated over and over, each new day may bring a new set of emotions to deal with. Despite the demands and many unknowns, I’m treasuring the moments with her and hoping I can give back some of the love that she has shared with me throughout the years.