In the beginning…
Becoming forgetful is always treated lightly among my friends and my peers. Ever since I turned 40, it has become a standing joke that we should not be surprised if and when we start forgetting things such as where we put our keys or eyeglasses (which were most likely perched on top of our heads where we put them in the first place).
But when you actually watch someone become forgetful within the span of ten years, and especially deteriorate in the last three, it becomes no laughing matter. What’s painful is that everyone who should know better — perhaps because they have studied it more or have read more articles about it — just seem to deny it more or find more reasons to say I’m just imagining it. Well, I’m not a doctor nor am I a wide reader.. but I think I have enough experience and observation to say my mom has Alzheimer’s Disease.
Even as I write this, I can almost hear my siblings protest that it’s NOT what she has or that what she really has is not it yet and can be slowed down or even reversed. Well, it’s not that I don’t want to listen to advice, it’s more like I don’t believe this can be reversed anymore, and that all I want now is a remedy for relief. Like.. What can I do to make her be satisfied with my answers (because she doesn’t take No for an answer)? What can she take to rest (because she can’t or won’t go to sleep)? What can be done to ease her confusion (because she asks the same things over and over again)?
Recently, I learned that there are different stages of Alzheimer’s disease, just like cancer. However, unlike cancer, which has 4 stages, Azheimer’s has 7 stages (https://www.healthline.com/health/stages-progression-alzheimers) namely:
1 – Preclinical Alzheimer’s or no impairment
2 – Very mild impairment or normal forgetfulness
3 – Mild impairment or decline
4 – Mild Alzheimer’s or moderate decline
5 – Moderate dementia or moderately severe decline
6 – Moderately severe Alzheimer’s
7 – Severe Alzheimer’s
According to the article, the whole process takes about seven years. Well, we (my husband and I) first noticed it in 2015, just after my mom returned from a month-long US trip to visit my sister in Seattle and my brother in LA. She got back in August but soon began asking where had she gone that she hadn’t been around to attend her older brother’s funeral in July? So meaning, she went from stage 4 to 6 in just three-and-a-half years.
Honestly speaking, and sometimes I just hate myself for thinking it, all I want is for her suffering to end. Mine, too, actually, but I know my journey is different because I am still “normal” and have the ability to understand. She isn’t even capable of that aspect anymore so I cannot imagine how she must feel to not be able to remember.