Living in the moment with someone with Alzheimer’s
TESTIMONY. Alzheimer’s is a word as mysterious as its definition. No matter how much science explains the brain and unravels its mystery in various languages, memory deterioration makes the journey irrevocably uncomfortable. Watching the memory of a loved one fade away and waiting for the day that person forgets you completely is one of the most disturbing experiences. But between these two stages, the present moment remains.
As I write this post, I’ve put aside my newspaper rep hat to play mommy’s daughter. In this month of Alzheimer’s disease, I agree to tell you about my perception of this disease, which I have long called the cursed disease. And in the same way, I manage to have wonderful memorable moments with my mother.
Alzheimer’s, the word always made my blood run cold before I could explain it to myself. And one day one of my aunts was diagnosed, then it was my mother’s turn, then another aunt’s turn. Three inseparable sisters who call each other every day, and then one day the phone stops ringing.
“My daughter, never forget that I love you. »
I was there for my mother when she was diagnosed. Panic in her eyes, she reiterated that she was not like her sister, “You’re right mom, you’re different from her, but alas, you’re also losing your memory,” I explained to her as gently as possible. . He himself did not understand the extent of the disease. Who could blame him? He has been in great denial for a long time. One day at the New Year’s party, my mother whispered these words to me on the phone: “Daughter, never forget that I love you.” I don’t know if he started to realize that his brain was petrified or that his memory was doing more than just playing games with him. But I started to cry. And cry.
The hardest part for me was admitting that I would no longer be able to help my mom understand what she was going through because she was no longer encoding words or taking care of her at home. My father died, the residence was the best solution. This leap of faith to put my mother in the hands of people I did not know was very difficult, but from this reality my mother’s new life – away from home – was somehow helpful in healing this guilt that was gnawing at me. . In the beginning, I came to his room with a fist in my throat, I could not talk to him, and I left him once at home, having released all my anger and tears. One day I pulled myself together and began a new relationship with my mother: living fully in the present moment with her.
When I go to see my mother, I call her, mother, as I always do. I don’t let him look at me thinking who I am. Her eyes light up when she hears the magical word “mom” and I can see her pulling herself together to pursue the best role of her life, that of mother. We sit in his room or the living room of the larger community and rock out like we do at his house. Sometimes I come with dinner as he likes. Although I know very well, after he leaves, he forgets about my visit, I offer him my presence, the present moment that he savors.
I often bring her clothes because my mother has always loved fashion. He likes to wear them like before. The holidays are synonymous with Christmas music. I love sitting with him and listening to him recite the lyrics. His memory is suddenly reborn and he laughs, always speaking sarcastically. In fact, I’m trying to live in the moment by sketching out his personality traits, which for my comfort have stayed true to who he is. Even if he repeats the same questions over and over and it’s no longer possible to talk, I return the same patience and the same dedication to him, at least I hope, to me.
I don’t know how to react when I no longer recognize his gaze. I refuse to let him die inside me prematurely. Too often I hear people say that death would be more than a release for these people with Alzheimer’s. But think about it, what if we were the ones who needed to learn something from them? My mother has always been a woman of faith and continues to teach me this despite herself.