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Alzheimer’s Disease – a disease that causes much grief.

There are plenty of diseases out there that get a lot of (deserved) attention as being killers, but one that seems to always go under the radar, and one that I wish to bring to your attention today is Alzheimer’s Disease. It is an insidious disease that robs people of their memory and steals them away from their loved ones, causing forgetfulness, dementia, changes in behaviour, and eventually contributes to their death.

I’ve alluded to something yesterday that has been causing me and others in our family a lot of anxiety and heartbreak, and I’ll now describe that.. because I need to vent a bit and get it out of my system.

My one grandfather – who is now 85 – has always been good at machines and electronics. He ran a successful appliance and TV sales business that he started after coming home from the war. He got into camcorders and video equipment and later in his late 70’s computers and digital cameras. In the last year, he has slowly lost the ability to know how to run his computer, and he recently asked one of our family if they knew anything about these “new digital cameras”. He has been buying the same books over and over again, because he’s forgotten he bought it in the first place. Yet at the same time, he has gotten paranoid over going broke – when he has no need to worry about that. He has forgotten all of his grand-children’s names, and needs to be reminded who is who. He’s misplaced Christmas gifts and then called up people wondering if they took it from him – when it’s still on a table at his apartment.

There are many other examples that I could go into. Suffice it to say, he has deteriorated so badly in the past 3 months that it has gotten to the point where both sides of our family (he re-married in 1987 to a very nice woman who has an excellent family herself after my grandma died 3 yrs earlier) believe that something needs to be done regarding taking care of both of them and making sure people arent trying to take advantage of his situation. As of this writing, I’ve not yet heard the result of that or if it even happened (a doctor was coming down to diagnose whether he was still competent to manage his affairs), because my grandfather gets very angry when its suggested to him he’s losing his memory and isn’t well and needs to get help.

I would encourage you that if you have family members or know someone that has this disease to go visit the Alzheimer Society Of Canada to get information and help on it… maybe even to consider donating to them, so they can help find a treatment/cure for this not as well publicized but still terrible disease.

I will tell you from personal experience that it is very sad to see once vibrant, good people deteriorate slowly before your eyes without being able to do a thing about it – other then to try and give them the care needed to make them as comfortable as possible and so they can have as much dignity as possible in their last few years. I’d like to think that eventually research will be able to find a way to halt this. This disease has come down via my great-grandma (I was fortunate to have known her as a very small 5 yr old, but I remember seeing her decline when I was 7-8 yrs old and what this disease did to her; she had a strong heart and survived till I was 19, if curled up in the fetal position for the last several years of her life is considered survival), and it was apparently in my great-grandma’s mother…so its in the family, and I sincerely hope for my mother’s sake and her 2 sisters, and for us and my aunts’ children, we either have the other side of the family’s genes to help avoid this.. or we can find a cure/treatment by then. I know that I certainly wouldn’t want to go through what I’ve seen 2 generations of my family go through.. and I wouldn’t want to put my own family through that.

I’d like to thank everyone who privately and publicly sent in their support… its been a very trying few weeks.. and I suspect there will be other trying weeks ahead. Hopefully we can get him into a facility where he can be taken as good of care of as possible.

A picture of the Forget-Me-Not Flower – which the Alzheimer’s Society uses in their logo.


13 comments to Alzheimer’s Disease – a disease that causes much grief.

  • So sorry to hear about this, Scott. If you need any support, someone to talk to, just a shoulder, you know how to reach me. ((((((hugs))))))

  • My thoughts and prayers are with you, Scott. I lost my grandpa from Tillsonburg to Alzheimer’s, so I know what you are going through. Thankfully, you have a solid online community of support here.

  • That’s a hard thing to deal with. I wish you, your grandfather, and the rest of your family good luck in the struggle ahead.

  • Thanks Miranda.

    I’ve been surprised and touched by how many people on here and in private email have relayed their personal experiences with this disease… its a lot more prevalent then I had imagined.

  • *hugs* My family is going through something similar right now with my grandmother so I know how hard it is. Just over a year ago she was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, but didn’t start getting bad my grandfathers death late last spring. In the past six months she’s gone from being able to discuss school with me to not even recognising me when I visited her at Christmas. She also spends a fair bit of her time walking around muttering “they keep moving my things”, which is very hard on all of us.

    I hope that things go as best as possible with your grandfather, and if you ever need to talk feel free to e-mail me.

  • Skdadl.. I appreciate the gesture, particularly since we’ve had a bit of a go at one another at Prog at times of late. Stuff like this makes blogging and squabbling rather irrelevant. It’s my mom who’s been most affected – she will become power of attorney over his affairs (financial and otherwise) if a doctor rules he can no longer take care of himself.. and that just seems overwhelming to her at the moment if/when it happens.. she’s come home from my grandfather’s crying at times. The other thing is though, if he is ruled that he can still presently manage his affairs despite having failing mental health, we’re afraid he’ll lash out at the family as ganging up on him, and who knows what he might do then.

    BC’er, Knb, JJ… thanks for the support. Every moral support of gesture, no matter how few or how many words, means a lot.

  • JJ

    Same, Scott…

  • knb

    Scott, my grandfather was stricken by this disease too and my heart goes out to you and your family.

    Most people seem to refer to it as a simple loss of memory, but as you describe, it is much more than that.

    I hope that your family gets the assistance it requires and finds a way to weather this difficult time.

    All the very best to you.

    BTW, we can all help our through donations. There used to be a packet of Forget-Me-Not seeds available, though I’m not sure they still do that.

  • That has to be just heartbreaking to go through. Know that you’re in our thoughts Scott.

  • Scott, my heart goes out to you and your family.

    Almost a year ago now, my husband died of Alzheimer’s. I won’t write too much about that here, except to say that I remember so clearly how I felt in those first days as the diagnosis and what it would mean to us sank in — it is a very hard place to be, Scott, and I offer you any support I can.

    I think you are absolutely right to say that the first thing people in our shoes should do is visit — or call — the Alzheimer Society. When I was lost, so lost and confused and frightened, I phoned them; a counsellor called back; we must have talked for an hour. Their counsellors will talk about anything, for as long as you need; they consider that there are no stupid questions; they know that people are different and people’s situations are different, and they don’t pass judgement; and they can tell you how to start putting one foot ahead of the other. I am so grateful to them.

    It can be a long journey, and yet it is life. I believed from the beginning that we still had a life and that we were going to live as much as possible every day to the end. I didn’t do that perfectly by any means, but I still believe that everyone deserves caregivers who can make that belief real.

    Please feel free to write any time, Scott. Many people have helped me. Hugs.

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