When I see Alzheimer’s in my mom, it looks like a confused glance, an angry outburst or a mismatched outfit. It’s anxiety about getting dressed in time for church that is still two hours away. It is not remembering how to put on her socks or use a seat belt. It is her wanting so bad to be helpful, but knowing that she is making it worse. But I also see, a simple beauty in her actions; a hug out of the blue, or reaching out to hold my hand like when I was young. It’s also precious comments that don’t always make perfect sense, but help me to connect with the part of my mom that I love.
When my mom sees Alzheimer’s she sees chaos, nothing feels familiar anymore. She wakes up in the middle of the night in her bedroom and experiences a place that she observes to be a place that she has never seen before that is filled with strange objects. There are many nights that she bravely gets out of bed and tries to find something to make her feel safe, she wanders around the rooms of their home stopping to empty drawers or relocate items. I marvel at what courage it takes to live every day, and night this way.
When I told her that I was writing a blog and wanted to know “how it felt” to have Alzheimer’s, she said, “the most important thing is to be aware”. As we talked I became even more cognizant of the intense energy that goes into her trying to make sense of the confusing the cues that her brain sends constantly. It seems that frustration and sometimes embarrassment follow close behind when she senses that her actions are unexpected or misinterpreted. It’s hard to imagine this chaotic world that my mom lives in, but I am so blessed that she does it with such flair, and laughs often as if to say I get it, it’s a little funny, but it’s me.