This is from my blog "Through Her Eyes," which talks about a daughter's journey with a daddy who has Alzheimer's disease:
“Insidious.” It’s not a word often overheard in everyday conversation, but it is the perfect description for Alzheimer’s. “Insidious”—spoken aloud, it even has a sort of evil hiss audible in the second syllable, doesn’t it?
Because the adjective “insidious” implies a gradual, even subtle, change bringing harmful effects, anyone familiar with the daily realities of Alzheimer’s can recognize how well this particular word fits the condition. I’ve heard other people who love an Alzheimer’s patient describe the condition itself as “sneaky” or “crafty.”
Evidence of Alzheimer’s starts as little things we can easily attribute to age and can sweep under the carpet of rationalization. Those simple lapses and irregular behaviors, however, relentlessly become more and more disturbing and harder and harder to explain away. The irregular becomes oppressively, well, regular. It’s easy enough to make an adding mistake in a checkbook, but why can’t this retired accountant add a series of three numbers together? Anyone can misplace his eyeglasses, but why are these dentures under the bed in the spare room?
Perhaps personalizing the disease helps us deal with the reality of our loved ones’ daily battles with their progressing loss of abilities. We can focus a little of our anger and bitterness and frustration on this third party and call it names: devious…cruel…unfair. It’s a psychological tool in warfare to dehumanize one’s enemies by referring to them in disparaging terms; so, why not the reverse–giving a personality to a disease when it is the enemy? Somehow labeling Alzheimer’s disease as the thief it is lets us better understand its victims as people who did nothing to deserve its assault, as people who do need advocates.
If someone in your life is grappling with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, recognize that this condition can demand a slow, painstaking toll in your own life. So, make it your business to not only face the disease for what it is, and call it names if you like, but to learn about its progression so that you will be better prepared to deal with it on a personal level as well as a supportive one.
Yes, I can feel discouraged, helpless and exhausted. Yes, I’ve found Alzheimer’s to be unfair and cruel and downright devious. And, yes, Alzheimer’s is insidious enough to catch someone completely unprepared to face the challenges it brings. But, thanks to education, it does not have to. Know your enemy. Call it what you will, Alzheimer’s disease need no longer have the advantage of a surprise attack.
Wow, beautifully put, Adriann. It does seem like the disease itself takes on a personality of its own. I have seen advertisements for drugs that slow the progression of the disease. Based on your own observations, how effective have these drugs been?
The research I've read is mixed. Some folks maintain that the drugs make only a negligible difference; others disagree. I can only speak for myself. With my own father, I definitely thought it was "worth a try" to see if the drugs would help. Unfortunately he wasn't able to tolerate any of the meds currently available because of pre-existing stomach problems, but as a family we agreed that giving the drugs a chance to make a difference was the right call.
I just found this site and one of my questions has been answered by this story. My mom's reasoning is gone. I could not wrap my brain around the fact that she did not understand what made complete sense to me. An example, my mother has always had a problem with taking medication as prescribed especially pain meds. I had to take control over giving her meds to her each day, purchased a security box and locked up all prescription medications. Now I am having to do that with over the counter meds. In fact, I also had to put a lock on my bathroom door and move all medications into my bathroom because if she could get her hands on the box she would find the hidden key and get into it. I only found that out when I came home one day and found pills all over the floor. When I asked her about it, she told me the dogs did it!. Really, the dogs found the key, opened the heavy lid, pulled out bottles and opened lids without leaving any teeth marks on the bottles! She was absolutly convinced this is what happened even when I tried to explain it makes no sense. Your post helps me to understand this is not something she is doing on purpose. It seems like her symptoms have accelerated lately. The things that happened every once in awhile are now daily occurences. All the reading I am doing really does not explain anything other than memory issues. I did not understand that common sense goes out the door also. Now I do.
Oh Peggy, what a sad thing you are going through with your Mom. I think I pick up a little frustration, too, and no wonder! Someone who used to be so rational is now very definitely NOT.
Has your Mom been to a good Doctor yet? Perhaps there is an underlying physical problem contributing.
I'm so glad that something on our site at least gave you a little insight into what is happening. That does make it easier to cope.
I hope you will come back and share some of your struggles and triumphs with your Mom and that you will be sure to make some "Me" time. If you have neighbors, family or a senior center nearby that can provide respite, that's great. If not, please consider a home care provider so you can get out at least once a week and recharge.
Really touching description of this lethal disease, Adriann. Its a very worst disease and does affect a lot of people worldly. There have been contrary remarks about the drugs available for the control of this disease.