Realizations About Alzheimer’s: The Good, Bad, & Ugly
Life with Alzheimer’s disease is often a mix of beautiful moments, difficult experiences, and unexpected twists. Those of you who are caregivers may see and discover new things about Alzheimer’s that surprise you – both in good ways and challenging ways.
To learn more about what you have uncovered during your journey with Alzheimer’s, we reached out to community members on our Facebook page and asked you to share with us: “What is an interesting fact about Alzheimer's?”
More than 75 community members shared, and here is what you had to say.
Every day is different
For someone living with Alzheimer’s, every day can be different. Some days, their moods and ability to recall people and information can change from hour to hour. Letting go of expectations takes practice, but is 1 of the best ways to manage the ever-changing reality of Alzheimer’s.
“It changes daily.”
“Every day is different.”
“They remember but they do not. Watching 1 go from independent 1 day to needing help dressing the next. It is kinda back and forth. It confuses me.”
“It is very frustrating because my mother is like a light switch: 1 minute she is herself, and the next minute she is not!”
The last thing a person loses is their emotions
Alzheimer’s is a disease that mainly affects the ability to think and remember. Research shows that people with Alzheimer’s may still experience emotions long after their memory has faded. Many community members suggested that the best way to connect with someone with Alzheimer’s is by tapping into their emotions. Find the things that bring them joy and try to share those happy moments with them. Alternately, allowing them to express their sadness or fear can be helpful too. We all want to be seen and have our feelings validated, and this is especially true of someone with Alzheimer’s.
“The last thing a person loses is their emotions, and, sadly, even those get scrambled up.”
They can sing, even when they can no longer speak
Research shows that the part of the brain that recalls music is often unaffected by Alzheimer’s.1 Because of this, many people with the diagnosis can perfectly remember songs and lyrics. Listening to or singing beloved songs can bring emotional benefits to someone with Alzheimer’s, including reducing stress, anxiety, depression, and agitation.
“My mom, even at the end before she went silent, would sing the hymn ‘In The Garden.’ My mom could not speak but could sing that song.”
“The ability to sing, word for word, a song from 50 years ago.”
Pieces of them are still there
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease. Typically, the moments of coherence become fewer and fewer. However, in the early stages of the disease, caregivers can find ways to help the person with the diagnosis connect with their memories.
Hanging family photos, singing songs, and creating art projects can help trigger memories. Everyone is unique, so finding what works to draw out the person you know and love will be different. As mentioned earlier, every day is different, so what worked yesterday may not work today.
“Pieces of them are still there. They come out of it for just a second, and you get a glimpse of them again to ease your heart for a sec. For instance, if they hear their music that they love and they dance because it gives them some familiarity, you ‘see’ them again or they remember small details of their life from before.”
Thank you to everyone in the community for sharing your experiences with Alzheimer’s. We appreciate your openness and support.
Do you have any caregiving tips that could help the community?