memory

Catching Alzheimer’s

I know that there is a hereditary component to Alzheimer’s Disease. However, sometimes I think it is like an airborne virus that can be caught just by being in proximity.

We all have a lot going on and so many details to remember in our busy lives, so we do forget things here and there. I get that. When I am with my mom, however, I feel like my brain becomes like jelly. There is the idea that we enter into their world and maybe that is part of it. But why does that happen? Why can I suddenly not remember the words “vending machine”? She has one at her place and we are always making sure she has dollars or coins for it, so it comes up each visit. I find myself saying things like, “Here are some dollar bills for the…you know…thing where you get snacks.”

Visiting the vending machine

When I take her out, I am constantly readjusting our itinerary. It is good that she never remembers the original one, so she is not disappointed! I will tell her we are going to do one or two things, like go to a store, get ice cream, take a walk. Once we are on our way, I realize that I have totally failed to manage the time and we end up doing less or something all together different. Okay, anyone who knows me knows that time-management is not my strong suit, but it gets far worse when I am with my mom. Maybe that existing outside of time thing is contagious, too!

Of course, I always have the worry that I am getting the disease myself. I wonder if my forgetfulness is from being around her or because of the disease emerging. Sometimes, I feel like I am not far behind her. The, I will visit, and realize I am nowhere near where she is! On my last visit, she was lying in bed looking tired. I asked her how she was feeling. “I am fine,” she said calmly, “but it is really annoying when the birds with claws start to come at me. Of course they would never hurt me, but it is just annoying.” That is when I know, that whatever I am experiencing is nothing like her reality. Hopefully, it continues to stay that way for me or a cure is discovered before it gets to that point. In the meantime, I think that I need to start liking ice cream. It seems to be a constant source of happiness for those with dementia. I know that it is for her!

Mom enjoying her daily ice cream