The Truth About Alzheimer’s

Carolyn Martin, Assistant Arts and Entertainment Editor

I remember being eight years old watching TV at my grandparents house. In the background I could hear my grandpa telling my grandma to leave what he was working on alone. She proceeded to ignore him. 

Dealing with a family member who suffers from Alzheimer’s is almost like going to war; if you haven’t experienced it before, you won’t understand.

With November being Alzheimer’s Awareness month, this family issue seems to be on my mind more often.

Alzheimer’s is more than forgetting things and names.

It’s watching someone act like a toddler with developed motor skills. 

It’s trying to complete a 100 piece puzzle but 90 pieces are missing. 

It’s my whole family still trying to figure out how to handle it.

It’s hiding items, because she will move them and they will be lost forever.

It’s acting out; she lashes out at the people she once loved. But she doesn’t know any better anymore.

It’s preparing special foods for my grandmother because she cannot eat just anything. She’s been at the dinner table about to eat a food she’s had a million times before and then starts choking on it.

It’s watching my grandfather’s face as he frowns and reminisces about how my grandmother used to be. How he was crazy for her. He’s lamented about how she was once “a china doll.”

This statement came after she had just thrown a shoe at him because he asked her to do something she did not want to do.

My grandpa has told stories about how she used to be after many instances like the one mentioned above. I’ve built my concept of who she used to be from these stories.

In reality, all of this is heartbreaking. But it does not impact me the way it probably should.

My grandmother was diagnosed in 2008, over ten years ago now. But still, I don’t have many memories of her before then. She was never one to go out. I was always with my grandpa.  We would go to the park. My grandma would sit at home and read. And I was never in the kitchen with her; her cooking was never a big part of me growing up. People will tell me their sorry about my grandmother and assume it’s hard for me to see her like this. In all honesty, it’s much harder to see everyone else’s reactions.

If you have a relative who is, or who has suffered from Alzheimer’s my heart goes out to you.

There’s no cure for Alzheimer’s yet, but I hold out for the hope that one day there will be one. But until that day, just remember that Alzheimer’s is not what it may seem to be on the surface.