Alzheimer’s Disease is such a degrading disease. Recently I stayed with a friend while her husband had to stay in the hospital. I have known her for over 10 years and well before Alzheimer had affected her mind.
The personality that now resided in this body was influenced by fear. At first she would panic at least two times a day stating that someone had come in and stolen her purse and would worry over the money that had been taken. I would assure her that it was in the house and would start the daily pilgrimage of looking through out the house and hiding spots to at last retrieve the purse. She would grin in relief but the process would begin again in four hours. Oddly enough she never hid the purse in the same spot twice.
Conversing with her required the same conversation to be repeated over and over. Questions were answered by me but then after the answer the same question was repeated as if it had never been asked. At times I did feel like I was involved in an Abbott and Costello routine of ‘Who is On First?’ when she would ask questions and then forget it was she that asked the question and then would ask me why I asked the question that was in reality asked by her.
Being with her was mentally exhausting and I made a mental note to start relieving her husband by taking her out during the week so he could have quiet time and rejuvenate. Fortunately for me I have the patience of Job, as they say, and remained calm and loving.
Just when I felt like I was physically and mentally drained and my time with her would not end soon enough, I was inspired by this idea:
This, no doubt, would be the last time I was with my friend where she would recognize me and know my name, although even now there were times she had forgotten my name and just called me ‘wonderful lady’. It would be the last time we could laugh and have girl talk and glimpses of the past would be remembered and shared together.
This task then was not overwhelming nor was it a trial and tribulation.
It was the greatest gift I could possibly be offered because it was time spent with a friend that soon would be over taken completely by Alzheimer and I would then be lost from her memory forever.
Now I began to cherish each moment, each question asked over and over again, and the epic search for a hidden purse.