Thanks for tuning in. At June Care, we’re building the best-ever virtual care team. We support family caregivers as they care for their loved ones. Our Caregiver Stories series features crowdsourced posts from our community of caregivers.
We had several great submissions last week. This one comes from Dom Maloney—
‘Enjoy the moments of clarity’
My grandfather, Arthur, died of vascular dementia and my wife’s great aunt Milly died of Alzheimer’s a couple of years ago. Arthur had a strong influence on me from a young age. He was a very spiritual man and had a brilliant sense of humor. He was there at many of the important moments in my life, including being my sponsor at confirmation.
I have many happy memories of playing as a child at his house; holidaying together; and, after his wife died, helping him in his garden. My favorite memory was the first time he met my then girlfriend (now wife) but without looking up, assumed it was my sister.
His first greeting to her was, “Hello O pregnant one…” Obviously everyone fell about laughing whilst my very slim girlfriend looked around for my very pregnant sister!
Milly looked after my wife and taught her many life skills. Milly was very mischievous and always had a cheeky glint in her eye. She was always a little batty and often played for attention by pretending to forget things.
This made it all the harder when Alzheimer’s disease set in, as we never knew when she was just playing around and when she really couldn’t remember where the bathroom was in her one-bedroom flat!
There are many things that make Alzheimer’s difficult. The fact that someone you love not only doesn’t recognize you but sometimes thinks you’re coming to do them harm, or mistakes you for someone they used to love…it’s hard.
One time, my grandfather saw my mother and her brother and asked where Margaret was. (Margaret was his first wife who had died a decade or more earlier.) When they broke it gently to him, he was distraught. It was only after several minutes they realized he meant my mother and just got the name wrong and hadn’t recognized her.
In the face of it all, the most important thing I’ve learned is that it’s important to be patient and loving. Alzheimer’s confuses the person living with it and frustrates them enormously. Simply sitting with them and holding their hand is often enough for them. And use the periods of clarity – even when quite far gone, you may get short bursts of clarity where you’re recognized or a shared memory resurfaces.
Grab these times and enjoy the moment. Be kind, be loving and cherish every moment. And when at last they pass on, rejoice that they are no longer in distress.
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