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My Mom's Alzheimer's Taught Me to Appreciate the Little Things

Before my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I never took the time to appreciate all of the beautiful little things life has to offer. I was always too caught up in my to-do list for the day or whatever drama was going on with my friends at the time.

How Alzheimer's changed my perspective

Dealing with my mom’s Alzheimer’s completely changed my perspective on life.

A few years after her diagnosis, I quit my full-time job and became a part-time caregiver. I was really unhappy with my job and I didn’t want to be stuck there for the rest of my working life, only to retire and possibly end up with Alzheimer’s myself. Since my mom was diagnosed at the age of 62, that was definitely a possibility. I wanted to find something I loved to do and make it my life’s work.

I also got rid of some toxic friendships because I realized how ridiculous it was for me to waste so much time feeling stressed out and resentful of people who were supposed to be my friends. I wanted to spend time with people who I loved and who loved me. I no longer wanted to invest my time in relationships that left me feeling drained and isolated.

Life is short and precious

My mom’s diagnosis made me realize how short and precious life is. Even if you don’t die at a young age, you might be diagnosed with a progressive, degenerative disease like Alzheimer’s that will effectively change the outcome of your life. Your life can be cut short by many things other than death.

By the end, my mom lost every physical and mental ability she ever had. Things that I did on a daily basis with little to no thought were impossible for my mom to do on her own. I realized how many things I took for granted, how many things I never appreciated having the ability to do.

Practicing gratitude

Losing my mom to Alzheimer’s not only changed my perspective – it changed my life. Now, I start each day with a gratitude practice where I write down three things that I am grateful for. At the end of each day, I write down three good things that happened that day. This practice has allowed me to cultivate a deeper sense of gratitude and appreciation for the little things.

I am grateful for the ability to walk and run with ease. I am grateful for the ability to choose what I want to eat for breakfast and to feed it to myself. I am grateful for the ability to speak and write in a meaningful way that allows me to express my thoughts and feelings.

I stop to admire the colorful tulips growing in my neighbor’s garden while taking my dogs for a walk. I look up to notice the beautiful blue sky. I turn my face toward the sun, close my eyes, and listen to the birds chirping.

I appreciate all of the beautiful things life has to offer, no matter how small, because now I know there might come a day when I lose the ability to do so.

I truly appreciate the little things because that’s what life is all about.

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