“Be patient. Be understanding. And in a world where you can be anything, be kind.”
At a family gathering recently, I was visiting with an older man who repeatedly asked me the same questions about my children and myself. “Your children are just precious. How old are they?” “Your children are so smart. How old are they?” “They remind me of my own children being so small. How old are they?” Every few minutes, I’d find myself giving the same answers I had given only moments before. “Thank you,” I said, “My oldest is five, and my youngest is 18 months old.” It didn’t bother me that I was seemingly having the exact conversation over and over with this gentleman. I knew the man, and I knew why he continued to ask me the same questions. I knew he enjoyed being able to talk with me about my children, and what was so special was that he was actually remembering his own children.
Alzheimer’s disease affects people differently and progresses at different speeds, depending on the person. More than 5 million people in the United States have been affected by this terrible disease, and those numbers are expected to triple over the next 30 years. Typically, people will begin showing symptoms near age 60, but some have been diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in their 40s-50s. Early stages of ALZ include minor memory deficits and slight confusion of the individual. As the disease progresses, it can become an aggressive form of dementia that will rob the patient of everyday cognitive and physical abilities, potentially leading to death. Individuals with severe ALZ will require caretakers to ensure that functional living skills are continuing. Caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s can be extremely challenging. Some individuals with ALZ may exhibit problematic behavior and may become argumentative and even physically aggressive in some cases. If you are a caretaker of an individual with Alzheimer’s disease, thank you. You are appreciated. It is not an easy task to take on. Though it is challenging, try to understand.
In honor of World Alzheimer’s Month, let’s make a commitment to raise awareness for Alzheimer’s disease. If you find yourself visiting with an individual who suffers from ALZ and wants to ask you the same questions over and over, let them. After all, it just might help them recall some of the most important memories of their lives. Be patient. Be understanding. And in a world where you can be anything, be kind.
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.