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Re: Alzheimer's

Posted: June 21 22, 8:31 am
by thrill
That is awful IMA. My grandma died a few months back and I helped my Grandpa move into a new assisted living facility. Many parts of it were very sad. Here's this 93 year old man who just lost the woman he's loved since he was 17. The woman who waited for him to go to war and come home so they could start their life together. Here I am hopping off a plane from Florida, moving his stuff into a nice but still depressing and lonely new place where he knows he is going to die alone sooner rather than later.

I take some, well, not joy or comfort, but some sense of satisfaction and peace by telling myself that this is the right role for me to play in the circle of life and family. While it sucks that I live thousands of miles away and can only contribute in helping him on rare occasions, the alternative would be much worse. The alternative being more like my relationship with my other grandpa, who I might not cross the street to help, let alone the country, due to his abusive past. I was glad that I could be there for him, not just to move heavy objects, but to just be with him. Help him not be alone when he needed me. Just like countless younger people have done for the older family members for generations. That is one of my roles now. The leaders of my family are aging out and/or are too preoccupied with their boomer self-involvements, so now I've become one of the leaders of my extended family. I embrace that so when I'm old and busted, one of the younger generation will be there for me like I'm there for him. These are the traditions that transcend time.

Speaking of traditions that transcend time, you own a family farm, a rarer and rarer thing these days. That farm was your uncle's life's work. His nephew taking over and doing the things he can't is part of a tradition of family work, duty, and inheritance that goes back further than just about anything else in the story of our species. It predates governments and societies. It goes all the way back to prehistoric tribal days where it took a family/community effort to support a community through agriculture, hunting, etc. You are doing your duty in that timeless lineage, and rather than be sad that it's happening, try to find the beauty in this role you are now playing as one of the leaders of your tribe keeping this tradition alive. The alternative is that the farm is his life's work and he reaches this stage without a family member to take over and continue the tradition, which is a bleak and much sadder alternate reality. This kind of [expletive] is coming for all of us, eventually. It's up to us to earn and build a family and/or community that will continue these traditions for us when we need it. You're doing that right now. The typical boomer mentality of just paying someone else to take care of our elderly is a blip in the continuum of how our species has cared for it's old. Looking forward, I think it's fair to say that it's a luxury that under the current conditions, will not be as common or available in the future. To contend with this future, we must look to the past to reembrace how we structure our families and how we care for each other in a future beset by climate disaster, social unrest, and diminishing resources.

Re: Alzheimer's

Posted: June 23 22, 5:32 pm
by SunnyJim
Alzheimer's took my mother in 2012.

Alzheimer's takes everything and leaves nothing.

Re: Alzheimer's

Posted: June 24 22, 3:57 pm
by sighyoung
IMADreamer, I'm so sorry that your uncle is going through this, and about the impact it will have on your entire family. It's awful to witness. He is forunate to have loved ones near, and to be in familiar surroundings right now. All of you will be guideposts to him. He knows you and trusts you, and he'll be relying on you and other loved ones in the days ahead to figure out what is happening.

I was thinking about thrill's post, too. I had to drive my mother from St. Louis to Louisville so she could stay in a nursing home near me, and I could visit, do laundry, and manage all of her medical care, legal affairs, and bills. One of the hardest things was deliberately driving from rehabilitation straight to Louisville without stopping at her home because she could no longer live independently. (She had fallen at home, was unable to get up, and couldn't figure out how to use her phone to dial for help. A neighbor had checked on her, realized she was in trouble, and called paramedics to rescue her.)

My mother didn't have Alzheimer's but had another kind of dementia in which her long-term memory gradually disappeared. She regularly transposed nouns (she would variously call me her cousin, friend, neighbor, father--she knew that I was family and likely her son, but often lacked the precise word to state it).

With nursing care, she was able to live almost 10 additional years. Her memory for music never went away: she could remember all of the versions of different hymns and Christmas carols (evidently, congregants in the African Methodist Episcopal Church sing ALL the verses of a hymn), and every note of various Count Basie and Duke Ellington classics.

She also reverted a little to her youthful training: she grew up in the 30's and 40's, and it was important to her as a woman that her family knew where she was.

She remembered me until I could no longer visit her because of the pandemic, but it was sad to see her forget about my father and about much of her life. Her short-term memory became so bad that if I stepped out of the room, she would forget that I had already visited. It took a couple of days for her to remember my two brothers when they visited.

It's important to know that your uncle is not only experiencing cognitive changes but sensory changes, as well. His range of vision is likely narrowing: my mother would often not be able to see things that used to be in her normal range of peripheral vision.

The nursing home was best when my mother could partly fend for herself and ask questions. When she became almost completely dependent on others (such as needing help with brushing her teeth or getting out of bed), the staff (which was too few and overworked) weren't able to provide all of the care she needed.

My mother did thank me once for bringing her to Louisville. She wasn't one to gush (she would thank me for many other things), but she once confessed that although she hadn't wanted to leave her home, it meant so much that someone loved her enough to care for her, and it made life worth living knowing that someone loved her enough to look after her for years.

I really did hate taking her away from St. Louis, and tried to give her the dignity of living on her own until she clearly could no longer do it.

Re: Alzheimer's

Posted: June 24 22, 10:01 pm
by IMADreamer
thrill wrote:
June 21 22, 8:31 am


Speaking of traditions that transcend time, you own a family farm, a rarer and rarer thing these days. That farm was your uncle's life's work. His nephew taking over and doing the things he can't is part of a tradition of family work, duty, and inheritance that goes back further than just about anything else in the story of our species. It predates governments and societies. It goes all the way back to prehistoric tribal days where it took a family/community effort to support a community through agriculture, hunting, etc. You are doing your duty in that timeless lineage, and rather than be sad that it's happening, try to find the beauty in this role you are now playing as one of the leaders of your tribe keeping this tradition alive. The alternative is that the farm is his life's work and he reaches this stage without a family member to take over and continue the tradition, which is a bleak and much sadder alternate reality. This kind of [expletive] is coming for all of us, eventually. It's up to us to earn and build a family and/or community that will continue these traditions for us when we need it. You're doing that right now. The typical boomer mentality of just paying someone else to take care of our elderly is a blip in the continuum of how our species has cared for it's old. Looking forward, I think it's fair to say that it's a luxury that under the current conditions, will not be as common or available in the future. To contend with this future, we must look to the past to reembrace how we structure our families and how we care for each other in a future beset by climate disaster, social unrest, and diminishing resources.
Your whole post was wonderful Thrill and I appreciate it. Same to Sigh and everyone else. I remember that a lot of people here had dealt with this as well so I thought you guys could relate.

I feel so fortunate to have the life I do. I'm now in my 40s and I still have both my parents and my Aunt and Uncle whom have been like a second set of parents to me. We are a very tight family and I know whatever happens in the future the memories of being able to work the land with my Dad, Uncle, and my Grandpa are some of the memories I will cherish most in my life. I always knew someday I'd be going on without them and hopefully it's a while yet, but I know we are closer to the end than the beginning for sure. My Grandpa has been gone 10 years this month and I still sometimes expect to walk into the shop and see him sitting on a stool pestering the shop cats. I'm not writing my uncle off yet, I know it's going to be harder from now on but he's still him almost all the time.