The Alzheimer’s Association held their annual luncheon in Denver yesterday, and it was an awesome display of encouragement, solid support, frustration at the toll the disease is taking, and a push to keep strong to fight the fight against this disease.
At the Savvy Caregiving class my friend and table host JJ Jordan taught, one mantra remains strong: “When you meet a person with Alzheimer’s, you’ve met one person with Alzheimer’s.” Because challenging as that may be, no two people display the exact same symptoms or reactions, so how we as caregivers deal with our loved ones with Alzheimer’s remains totally unique.
For most of my father’s 83 years, his opinions on faith, politics, lifestyle, clothing choices, attitudes has been strong. I learned long ago to stay away from any of those conversations with him, because there would be no discussion, only frustration for all involved. Last night, our conversation over the dinner table was about the zachtar (a middle eastern seasoning of oregano and sesame) we were using with olive oil in which we dipped our bread. Earlier in the day, as we were outside, we discussed the type of garden we are preparing to plant. The day before, he enjoyed playing croquet with Jiminy Wicket at a church in Washington Park. (In fact here he is on Angel Sighting: Jiminy Wicket ) All to say that while Alzheimer’s has robbed him of his independence, he is a kind, gentle person who smiles at everyone he meets and when doing what he loves best, eating, he can talk about everything. My mother constantly reminds me she is blessed to share this time with him and never complains about how their roles have completely changed. We understand we have to make the best of a tough situation and do what we can to face every day with energy and a positive outlook.
At the Alzheimer’s Association luncheon, I was motivated to join the ranks of folks who want to work with our scientists and lawmakers to find ways to prevent this disease. I look forward to how this activism will shape my life.
While my father’s critical side has now been quashed by Alzheimer’s, his core remains strong. After every croquet game, when someone bids him farewell and says they’ll see him next week, my father smiles and says, “Lord willing.”