My grandmother was one of the most honest and sweetest people I have ever met. She probably never told a lie.
In conversations I used to have with my father, I’m pretty sure he learned the hard way about lying.
Grammy, as she was fondly called, was not a big or intimidating figure, but she had a way of letting you know she was a no-nonsense kind of person. She had a heart of gold and a loving personality.
I don’t ever recall Grammy saying a cross word to anyone. I do remember that she would speak in a broken form of German, called Pennsylvania Dutch, when she wanted to say something to my father without my knowledge of what they were talking about.
Grammy passed away in 1976. It was one of the saddest days of my life. I don’t think my grandmother had Alzheimer’s, but I’m sure she had some dementia in the latter years of her life. I’ve written before about a must-read book for those caring for people with Alzheimer’s. The 10-page booklet by Candace Stewart is titled, "Welcome to Planet Alzheimer’s." Ms. Stewart knows firsthand the challenges facing families of loved ones with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease; two of her family members were diagnosed with the illness, including her mother.
Picture yourself on a rocket ship, and you just arrived on a planet where nothing make a whole lot of sense. This is what taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s can be like. The book makes a few suggestions to follow in order to live on planet Alzheimer’s and still make it back to Earth with some peace of mind. Following are some of the rules:
• You are not who you think you are — you are who they think you are. Logic and reason do not exist. Follow the rules of improvisation and go with the flow. Nothing is gained by arguing. Your truth and their truth are very different. Accepting their truth is not the same as lying; but lying is acceptable in certain situations. If your mom has forgotten that your father has passed away, and expects him to come home for dinner in a little while, it is much better to allow her to believe he will be home than to keep reminding her that he died two years ago. Even my grandmother could understand this rationale for lying to help preserve and protect someone’s loving memories.
• Never take anything personally. Have no expectations. Remember, old memories are best. Learning to do something new is not important. But being loved and accepted at all times is. And take advantage of the shuttle back to Earth as often as possible. You need to have your own needs met as well.
Ms. Stewart makes a whole lot of sense in her approach to a disease that makes little sense to most. I can’t tell you how many people have told me, "I wish I had this information three years ago." Now you do.
If you need more information, you can contact the Alzheimer’s Association online at www.alz.org
You may also want to join us for our Alzheimer’s Exchange Support Group. We meet the fourth Tuesday of every month from 5:30-7 p.m. at Station Exchange. Feel free to contact me and get more info about the group.
Learn well, my friends.
Call DeLong at 912-531-7867 or email him at SeniorMomentsWithRich@gmail.com.