Caretalk1-AD

Mark Beaumont MD

January 12, 2022

 

 

I rarely use the word “hate” but I can say that I truly hate Alzheimer’s disease. This chronic illness slowly stole my grandfather away from his family. It stole my grandfather from me, the man who was the only father figure in my life. It stole a father away from his children and grandchildren and a husband away from his wife of 50+ years. 

I recall my grandfather being a strong, confident, hard-working man who over time became weak, feeble and incapable of caring for himself requiring a wheelchair and 24-hour care. He became insecure requiring that my grandmother always be present as she was the most familiar face that he was accustomed to. He was always a man of few words but the illness even took his speech and ability to express himself. He became shy, timid and appeared anxious around family members. I can only imagine that in his mind he was surrounded by unfamiliar faces which must have created for him some anxiety. When people greeted him he would smile back with a small smile as someone being polite to reciprocate the sentiment politely even if he did not recognize who they were. 

I recall someone saying this truism in life which is that we are once men and twice babies. My hear grew sad as daily I witnessed my grandfather walk and move slower, require more assistance to eat, shower and care for himself. I recall the day I saw him and he looked back at me life he never saw me before and the same emptiness whenever my mother or aunts would hug and kiss him. How can someone you grow to love and know so well forget who you were? What happened to all of the memories, laughter and tears? What about the time you taught me to sweep or the walks to school? What about the times you taught me to iron my clothes and clean up? My grandfather was taken away and I didn’t get a chance to say goodbye. He was present physically but absent mentally; in essence a different person. 

I recall the family meetings to discuss the time that grandpa woke up at night and wandered opening up the front door. I recall seeing the tole that the illness took on my grandmother. It drained her emotionally requiring her to remain constantly vigilant of his whereabouts. There was the occasion when my grandmother needed to go to the market and she asked me to watch my grandfather. He asked her “my lady” as he called her and I gently reassured his several times as he paced the living room. I felt anxious at times thinking that he may want to leave to house to look for her or not listen to my suggestions to wait for her to come home. I recall the meeting where it was decided for grandpa to go to the nursing home. We tried to keep him at home and we took turns watching him. I had a hard time accepting the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. I understand how the illness affects the brain and the natural history of the illness. This disease slowly and progressively robs you or your loved one.

Humanity; love; give; share; love different way; deeper; physical ailment; memory loss; functional status; mobility