Reading Stephen Woodfin’s insightful blogs about Alzheimer’s has resonated with me as I too have a family member affected by this debilitating disease.
One of my sisters, only a year younger than I, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s six years ago. She now lives in a specialized facility in another state. Because of the distance, my visits occur very infrequently.
On my most recent visit, her response to my arrival distressed me greatly. Angie treated me like some stranger her daughter had brought along. I made another visit before returning home. That time, she even failed to recognize her daughter and ignored me completely.
She did consent to take a walk but soon tired and found ourselves sitting in silence on the home’s shaded porch. From within the building drifted music…the song, Our God Reigns by Chris Tomlin. Listening to the lyrics brought the realization that this was my final goodbye to my sister.
That was two years ago. I’ve not flown back to visit and probably won’t make the effort to see her again in this life. Although reports from my niece say she does well even as her body continues to physically deteriorate, her mind and memories are located in a realm I cannot enter.
Alzheimer’s affects its victims in multitude of reactions. Some undergo extreme personality changes, others become violent or delusional. I am thankful Angie’s progression has been a peaceful one…only compulsive behavior such as a propensity to be constantly on the move. But overall, her years have brought only a slow disintegration of capabilities.
Awareness of her affliction has made me watchful of my own behavior and that of my siblings. I already observe early signs in one brother who recently moved closer to another brother, for which I am exceedingly grateful. There will be someone nearby to watch over him as the years to come bring increased difficulty in dealing with life’s confrontations.