Where has my beloved grandmother gone?
Imagine: It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon; you’re heading over to visit your grandmother, who you aren’t able to see nearly as often as you used to. You know she will likely have made your favorite chocolate chip cookies like she always does. You walk into her house, and you don’t notice the sweet smell of your favorite cookies. You don’t notice the music she would have typically been playing for her Saturday afternoon cleaning. What you do notice is that she is laying in her bed, and you aren’t sure that she has showered, eaten, or even left that spot since God knows when. And even worse: she doesn’t recognize you. How did it get to this point? Who is this person, and where has your beloved grandmother gone? She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease not too long ago. She would only occasionally mix up your name with someone else’s from time to time, but that seemed very easy to do considering all of the children and grandchildren she had to keep up with. Now, she doesn’t even know you.
The fact of the matter is that Alzheimer’s disease affects people in different ways and progresses at different rates in various people. Over 5 million individuals in the United States are living with this terrible disease, and those numbers are expected to triple by the year 2050. Most people begin showing symptoms around age 60, but some have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in their 40s-50s. The stages usually start with minor memory deficits, such as forgetting little things or being slightly confused. Eventually, the disease progresses to become an aggressive form of dementia that will deprive the patient of everyday cognitive and physical abilities, potentially leading to death. Caregivers are often required to tend to individuals who are in very severe stages of Alzheimer’s disease to ensure that daily living skills are continuing. Understandably, caring for an individual with AD can be extremely challenging, since some common symptoms of AD include being moody or irritable, confused, difficulty communicating, and even physically aggressive in some cases.
How can you help? You can bring awareness by joining the “Walk to End Alzheimer’s,” which is organized by the Alzheimer’s Association. All proceeds for this fundraiser go to raising awareness and research for the disease. You can also volunteer with a local or national organization to raise awareness to fight against Alzheimer’s. The most important way to bring awareness is to share your story. If you have been directly affected by AD, you can reach others by simply speaking out. This disease affects not just the individual but their entire family as well. When you find yourself asking, “Where has my beloved grandmother gone,” just remember, this is your beloved grandmother. Advocate, bring awareness and understand that while there may not be a cure for AD, there are ways that you can help people battling this awful disease continue to live, laugh, and love.
“We aren’t helpless when we join together.”
About the Author
Chelsea Woods has a Master’s degree in special education and is an Educational Diagnostician. Her passion is children, particularly children with special needs. Chelsea has been married to her husband Dylan for 6 years, and they have two girls, Kamdyn, five, and Emersyn, one. She enjoys time with her church family, working in their garden, and taking vacations and making memories as a family.