An older woman (mother) and younger woman (daughter) sit on a bench together. Behind them two shapes overlap, then move to overlap in a new position.

Alzheimer’s Can Be the Start of a New Relationship With Your Loved One

My mom and I were getting ready to have lunch in the food court at the mall one day. It was really crowded that day so I decided to have her sit at a table while I went to get our food and drinks. Upon returning to the table with our lunch, my mom looked up at me and said, “Oh, I’m sorry, but someone is sitting here.”

Initially, I was confused and unsure of what she meant. I continued setting our lunch trays down on the table as she repeated herself, “I’m sorry. Someone is sitting here.”

That’s when it hit me...she didn’t know who I was.

She forgot who I was

I gently reminded my mom that I was her daughter, Lauren, and she nervously laughed it off, as if she had only been kidding. But I knew. And I knew she knew.

I was devastated the first time my mom forgot who I was, but as time went on, I got used to it. I no longer expected her to know who I was, so it didn’t hurt as much when she didn’t know. Back then, I thought it was the death of our relationship as mother and daughter. I mean, my own mom didn’t even know who I was. How could we continue to have any sort of relationship from then on?

What my mom did remember about me

I wish someone would have told me then what I know now. My mom didn’t need to know my name and our relationship to one another to know me. She knew me in a way that no one else could possibly ever know me. Over time I learned that although my mom didn’t remember my name, she knew my presence. She knew my heart, my soul, and my love. My mom knew the moment I entered the room even if I hadn’t yet uttered a word. She knew the sound of my voice and even in the end stages, she would often turn her head in my direction and open her eyes. My mom knew she was safe with me. She knew she was loved by me. And she knew she knew me, even if she didn’t remember how. That meant a lot more to me than whether or not she knew my name.

There’s no doubt an Alzheimer’s diagnosis is devastating to any relationship. It is often seen as the death of that relationship and maybe in some ways it is. But it can also be the start of a new relationship with your loved one. A different kind of relationship. A more basic one: the sound of your voice. The feel of your touch. The weight of your presence.

Alzheimer's brought me closer to my mom

It may sound strange to some, but I actually felt closer to my mom as her Alzheimer’s progressed. No criticism or judgement from one another. No pressure on our time spent together. No need for explanations or interpretations of what the other said. Just pure, unfiltered, unconditional love. There is no kind of relationship more beautiful than that.

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