My mother has Alzheimer´s but we are not alone
By: Kathryn F. (U.S.A.)
There’s not much in life that is as difficult as losing a parent. I’ve watched my husband mourn the loss of both of his parents, my daughter’s sweet grand-pere who always loved hoisting her on his shoulders for rides around the park, and her grand-mere who loved to spoil her with gifts and the cutest clothes sent to the United States all the way from her home in Paris. Heart attacks. Cancer. Car accidents. Aneurysms. It can happen to any of us – one minute they’re there, and the next they’re gone.
It’s heartbreaking to lose someone unexpectedly. Then there’s losing someone slowly…a fate I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. You see, I’ve been losing my mom for nearly a decade now. We all noticed the signs before we knew what they meant, some of us sooner than others. It started with misplacing car keys, getting lost while driving familiar routes, and forgetting things that used to be easily remembered. We’d chalk it up to old age, though my mom is still relatively young. We had no idea that Early Onset Alzheimer’s was lurking below the surface, stealing her memories and cognitive abilities away quietly like a whisper until it started to shout.
My mom’s diagnosis was so unexpected and so scary that it took me and my family a while to wrap our heads around it. We were in denial, for sure, and didn’t know where to turn. One thing that has made all the difference for us is my mom’s team of caregivers who are not only incredibly experienced with memory loss and aging patients, but also so thoughtful and compassionate which helps us know my mom is in the best hands possible. I knew the day was coming when she wouldn’t be able to communicate with me anymore, but when that day actually arrived the devastation was not something I could handle on my own. I have been so fortunate to have an excellent therapist who has become a vital part of my community and family I depend on for my own mental health.
The glimpses of my mom’s true self are fewer and farther between these days. But sometimes, when I least expect it, I’ll see a glimmer of her peek out through a knowing smile, a squeeze of my hand, or even some smooth dance moves when a favorite song starts playing.
Being open about our story has brought me closer to so many resources and other people who are going through similar things. I’ve found support groups that have made this journey more bearable, and also that being in closer touch with other family members and remembering my mom makes it all a little less painful. I joke that it’s a club none of us wanted to be a part of, but now that we’re here, we can’t help but be there for each other.