If there is someone in your family who has Alzheimer’s disease, then you will understand when I say no two days are ever the same. Yesterday, I lost my Dad in Walgreen’s. One minute he was there and the next, he wasn’t. I found him wandering around in the parking lot, safe, but a bit rattled. He couldn’t remember what car he came in so he didn’t know what to look for. All is well that ends well though, right?
Alzheimer’s is a beast. Driving home, I found myself thinking about the time we lost my brother at a local lake. He was about 6 years old and I can still remember the sheer panic in my mother’s eyes as we searched frantically for my brother. We found him safe too, wandering around in the parking lot oblivious to the frantic search that was taking place all around him. In those first few moments when my Dad disappeared, I think I understood my mother’s fear 45 years ago when my brother was lost. It was a real awakening.
One in seven people over the age of 65 will get Alzheimer’s disease. Can we even imagine the impact this disease will have on our generation of baby boomers? We are the pioneers of learning to care for our parents who have this disease. We have to help each other by sharing the stories and the lessons we learn along the way. We need to learn from each other how to keep our loved ones safe and still take care of ourselves too. This will not be an easy journey but it is important that we help our loved one maintain as much dignity as possible. Alzheimer’s may steal their memory and their ability to speak, eat, and even their mobility but it does not have to steal their dignity.
So, tomorrow is a new day. I don’t know what it will bring but if my Dad is happy and knows my name, I will be grateful. Sometimes it’s just that simple.