I cannot imagine how it must feel to be the spouse of someone who has Alzheimer’s disease. And to be honest, I have not given it much thought. I am the daughter of a father who has Alzheimer’s and that has been enough to process. But it could be worse. I could be married to this disease. I could be the spouse and that…must be far more devastating that being a daughter.
There are moments when I can separate from my Dad’s Alzheimer’s. It may be late at night when I am writing or in the early morning hours when I am quietly introspective but I can separate. My mother does not have that luxury. Each morning she wakes up to a stranger. Each night she goes to bed exhausted from answering the repetitive questions and in reality, babysitting an 84 year old man. Her heart must be breaking.
Sometimes it is clear that Dad’s Alzheimer’s is taking its toll on my Mom. She looks more fragile and, alone. The man who could do everything can do nothing now. The man who once shared her thoughts and dreams is now lost in a fog of fragmented memories. I wonder sometimes if he remembers the joy he felt when my brother and I were born. Does he remember worrying about my mother when she had surgery many years ago? Where are his memories of birthdays and holidays and vacations? And the worst is yet to come. One day my mother will wake up and the man she has loved with all her heart will be unable to speak to her and will look at her with that vacant stare.
I wonder if it will be a relief. Will it be easier when there are no more bits and pieces of memories that tease his mind and leave him confused and vulnerable? Will it be better when she doesn’t have to answer the same questions over and over? Something tells me that the answer is no. I doubt that anything will make it easier to be married to Alzheimer’s.