Today is World Alzheimer’s Day, a day to raise awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease. This is very close to my heart because of my personal experiences:
- My grandfather had what I’m sure now was Alzheimer’s, but nearly six decades ago, it was called “hardening of the arteries.” At age twelve, I watched him being forced into the car to be taken to the state mental hospital. He had tried to choke my grandmother, whom he had adored, and was a danger to himself and others. He was locked in the hospital, and I never saw him again.
- Three decades later, I was one of several caregivers for my father after he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. We kept him at home as long as we could, but we eventually had to place him in a care home because he required full-time skilled care. Praise God, we were able to take him home to die on his beloved farm with his cherished family.
- Nearly two decades after my father’s death, my husband Jack developed Alzheimer’s. I was so blessed to be able to care for him until his death four years ago. He died of kidney failure before his disease reached the severity of my father’s or my grandfather’s, and I am so thankful that he knew me to the end.
You can understand that every time I have a “senior moment” (and I have more of them than I like to admit), I start wondering… I also try to keep my mind active, reading an average of five books a week and doing online activities like jigsaw puzzles and vocabulary quizzes.
If you haven’t experienced loved ones with Alzheimer’s, World Alzheimer’s Day is a good time to learn more about the disease. The virtual dementia tour gives people an opportunity to experience a few minutes of what it’s like to have the disease. My social worker sister Nancy, who is incredible in working with dementia patients, gives the virtual tour periodically. People who go through it are always dramatically impacted.
You can see a little of what it’s like in the following video:
Image: © Depositphotos.com/alexraths