Monday, March 12, 2012

It doesn't matter if they know you, visit

This morning I went to an Alzheimer’s Association fundraiser at the downtown Hyatt Hotel. I rarely go to such events, but a board member invited me to sit at his table; and it’s such a trustworthy organization, I went. This was a big deal for me because at 7:30 a.m. I do absolutely nothing outside my house except take care of Emma. If I’m still inside at that time, I’m reading or writing or trying to guess two or three words of a crossword puzzle.

I’m glad I went. It was good to hear people speaking publicly about Alzheimer’s and to be in a room with over 400 people giving their time, energy and money to research a disease that, in my daughter’s words, kicks people in the knees and doesn’t let them up.

The wonderful Connie Thompson of KOMO 4 News spoke about caring for her mom. The artist, Kevan Atteberry, talked about caring for his wife, Teri, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s. These two described what I know too well — life in extremity, where no matter what one does, the loved one will not get better.

When I came home, I talked on the phone to my daughter and, then, I walked Emma. A few blocks into our walk, I ran into an acquaintance. We got to talking about Alzheimer’s. (It’s been a year and nine months and I still I don’t know what else to talk about). She asked me: “Did he know you?” I told her what I tell everyone who asks me that question: “It didn’t matter if he knew me. He smiled when I came in. I made him happy.”

People with Alzheimer’s may not remember who you are, but they feel your presence. They know you’re there. Sit with them. Hold her hand. Scratch his back. Visit.

Thanks for stopping by,

from Witnessing Alzheimer's: A Caregiver's View

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