Some of you may not know this but my beloved Grandfather has Alzheimer’s disease and has had for many years. Watching him deteriorate before my very eyes has been a real learning experience for me and one I’m so very grateful for.
Before he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s I knew nothing of the disease other than that it caused memory loss and was often the point of many comical jokes. I also associated Alzheimer’s disease with insanity and it was something that scared me.
I remember as a child my Great Auntie – My Grandfather’s sister – developed Alzheimer’s. Well I don’t remember her developing it as I could have been no older than 7 but I remember going to visit her in the nursing home she was in and being terrified.
From what I remember of my Auntie she was just sat in the chair mute and didn’t speak or even acknowledge any of us but that’s a faint memory compared to the rest of that experience. I still remember to this day and if I’m honest it still frightens the child within me a lady who I now know also had Alzheimer’s sitting in a chair shrieking continuously in a high pitched tone that I can still hear echoing through my mind and another lady who had taken a shine to me. I was a shy child so having a lady I didn’t know being very in my face and trying to hug me constantly and play with my hair despite my protests scared me.
I carried that fear and impression of Alzheimer’s with me right up until the day my Grandfather was diagnosed.
My world fell apart the day they told me he had Alzheimer’s. How could it be that the man that had been almost a father to me my entire life was one day not going to remember me? How could it be that he was going to end up like those women I just told you about?
I was terrified. But when I returned home I sat in front of my computer for hours reading every bit of information I could find on Alzheimer’s. I wanted to know if there was a cure, how long would it be until he forgot me, was he in pain, most importantly I wanted to know if he was going to be okay.
I still continue to read all I can about Alzheimer’s because I believe you can never know too much about things like this. Information really is key.
With the information that I had I was then able to help my Grandmother and talk it through with her. I found it really helpful knowing everything that I did. I understood the phases he was going through. I had a certain amount of knowledge about what was and indeed still is happening to his brain. I was really grateful for the information.
A few years on and my Grandfather is in a care home and to me that care home has become a home away from home for me due to the amount of time I’ve spent there, the friendliness of the staff and also the other lovely residents.
Often when we enter the Alzheimer’s wing there is a lady stood near the door. This lady has the disease but is always friendly and always offers a hug as you walk in and greets you like an old friend. I find that over time it’s become easy for me to get on and communicate with all of the residents. Without fear or confusion. I’ve learnt the importance of just agreeing with them and just going along with whatever they say. I’ve learnt that they aren’t scary people or even insane.
These are regular people who just got sick. It happens. All of the faces in that home have stories behind them, families, amazing life experiences. These are people’s Mothers and Fathers, Grandparents, Sisters, Brothers.
My Grandfather travelled the world with the merchant Navy, he’s been happily married for 56 years and has a son and three loving grandchildren. He’s the kindest most generous man I know. He’s not somebody to be feared. None of them are.
They’re not something to be ignored either.
I don’t believe enough awareness is raised about Alzheimer’s and consequently I don’t think that enough is being done to find a cure or adequate methods of preventing it.
I’m not an expert and it’s not for me to tell you all what to do but I urge you all to do some research, learn more about the disease, maybe together with a better understanding of the disease we can all raise awareness and maybe one day they’ll find a cure.
Just something to think about.
Comment down below or tweet me @MissCharlotteEm and share with me your Alzheimer’s experiences. Do you think more could be done to raise awareness?
© Charlotte Emily Murray and Charlotte-Emily.net, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Charlotte Emily Murray and Charlotte-Emily.net with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.