alt=a distressed woman covers both her ears, blocking out the sensory overload of conversation.

Living with Alzheimer's: Sensory Overload

I tell my friends that I celebrate what I can do and mourn the things I can no longer do living with Alzheimer's. But I fight like crazy not to have to give things up. I try to modify my situation first. I try desperately to come up with a workaround but it isn't always possible.

Extraneous noise in the room

I have mentioned before in some of my articles about how excessive noise bothers me so much. One of my first symptoms of Alzheimer's was not being able to follow conversations in meetings because there were too many people talking or extraneous noise in the room. I could not filter it out - I was in sensory overload.

Living with Alzheimer's

That has become a major problem for me now, and it upsets me so much. It limits so many things I can do. I am constantly thinking about where I'm going and what the noise level is going to be. Most of the time I convince myself I can handle it but in reality, I can't. Even with my earplugs. This brings me to a decision as to not doing something that usually brings me joy. Then it makes me sad and mad. I start thinking of other things I am going to have to give up and I go down the rabbit hole.

A socially distanced picnic with friends

During the pandemic lockdown a few of my friends and I would get together outside in a park for a socially distanced picnic. Everyone would bring their lunch and a lawn chair and we would circle up (six feet apart). We talked and laughed and it made us all feel good to get out of the house. We still get together every week but our group has grown and it is difficult to talk when so many people are together. I'm getting to the point where all the conversations are jumbled in my head and I can't filter everything.

Sensory overload

This last week I had a difficult time getting home after our lunch because my brain was on overload. If I approached the group and told them what was happening they would make changes. But, I am not going to do that. My problem is not their fault and they shouldn't have to change things because of me. I am faced now with having to give up something that brings me joy, and that is upsetting. I will quietly drop out of the group or only go when there is a smaller number of people there.

Almost claustrophobic

Last month I attended an Alzheimer's luncheon for early-stage Alzheimer's people and their significant others. I had never been but decided I needed to go and it was a nice event. However, the noise in the room was so overwhelming that I couldn't wait to get out of there. It was almost claustrophobic for me.

It is disappointing not to be able to socialize in this manner but I know it isn't the end of the world. It is so frustrating when I want to do something and my independence gets threatened again.

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