If You Say "Remember" One More Time...
This is a difficult article for me, not because there are no words, but because words can cause pain. My intent in sharing this information is to help others going through the same thing. The problem is that I don't have the expertise or the answers to the questions.
Being diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's disease is going in blindly to a new normal. I want to preface this article with my intention. I am not blaming or shaming anyone. My heart's desire is to share experiences, inform, and educate.
An amazing wife
My wife is the most honorable, responsible, dedicated, and selfless person I know. I have watched her pick up the pieces of our wonderful life that we have made and form them into a new one.
She works overtime when she can and even makes beautiful wood furniture and decor in the little time she has off. She has taken half the family income and made it stretch to provide a comfortable life for us. She is learning as she goes as well. I am not the only one struggling through our ever-changing new existence.
I had to discuss this article with her first because I wanted her to understand that this topic was relevant and essential to both those suffering from this terrible disease and those suffering alongside the one with the disease.
My life is in the moment now
I told my wife the other day. "If you say remember one more time, I'm going to explode!" I was a critical care nurse with a Master's Degree. I could balance home life, work life, education, church, and personal life. Now I can't even remember to fold the clothes in the dryer.
My daily life has become a series of one-step activities that only get addressed if my attention at the moment is drawn to them - that is becoming less often.
I forget to do regular household and personal activities daily. My wife now has to remind me to take my medication. I wrote this sentence and stopped because I needed to take my medication. No, she had me take it this morning. I looked, but it was gone.
I live my life in the moment now. I try to look for the positive and precious moments and savor them, hoping I will remember them, but I don't.
The word "remember"
The word "remember" has become my least favorite word.
"Remember, you were supposed to do this?"
"Remember you were supposed to call them?"
"Remember you were supposed to complete that?"
No, I don't remember. Sometimes I can't remember the correct word for what I want to say, so I get angry. I'm frustrated, humiliated, confused, and paranoid. I feel like I am perceived as lazy and incompetent. I still want to be seen as the educated, competent, graceful, professional-mother-wife and friend I have always been. The truth is I am not that person anymore.
I remember everything
I am still able to do a lot of things that are important to me. I can still sing on the church praise team. I can still pray for my friends and family. I can still remember everything I learned in school, and I just can't retain new knowledge. I need reminders.
"Remember" is not a reminder to someone who suffers from EOAD. When I hear remember, I remember everything I used to be. I feel degraded. I feel humiliated.
Coming to compromise on those "reminders"
Hopefully, this topic will educate family members on the use of their words. Find another way of stating whatever you are trying to get across. "Hey, there are some clothes in the dryer. Will you help me fold them?"
If you are repeating yourself, repeat it. Don't add remember in front of it. Help your loved one save face.
My wife is trying so hard. I recognize that, and it is a steep learning curve. I pray I can handle it with grace and mercy, and most of the time, I don't, but I keep trying.
Which, if any, of the following most often trigger agitation in your loved one living with Alzheimer's disease?