"My Name is ...
By Snappy Service Cafe on May 17, 2011
It's so easy to dehumanize an Alzheimer's patient -- to not see them as the people they used to be. I mean, every day things are different. More things are forgotten, some things may be vaguely remembered and even other things are thought to be memories but never really happened.
I find it happening by me, sometimes. Dad loves to pat my arm or ask me hundreds of times if the oak barrel top he made for me years ago was still good. He doesn't really remember making it, but he knows he should know it and somehow knows he should be proud of it. It's in there, all mixed up with the stories and thoughts of the Korean War, his childhood and everything else he's ever experienced. But, in my rush to go about my business or my own desire to talk and be heard, I sometimes don't hear him. I blow right by.
Having a parent with Alzheimer's is one of the most excruciating things to watch. I can only get whispers of how it must feel for my mother who is watching her husband melt away. To know he doesn't always know your name or your history or that you're his wife. My family spends a lot of time with him, but my mom spends every single day and every single night with him. Every one.
As easy as it is to use dad's Alzheimer's as an excuse to think he really doesn't know anything, sometimes we get a knock upside our own heads that tells us otherwise. Recently, mom and dad were asleep in the night. Dad got up to use the restroom and mom pretended to be asleep. She pretends because when he comes back, he'll talk and talk and talk all night long and nobody gets any sleep.
But, she really wasn't asleep at all. Just laying there.
Dad returned to bed, finally settled down and began whispering. Mom struggled to hear him and as he got a bit louder, she realized he was saying, "My name is Richard Dean Adams. My name is Richard Dean Adams" over and over. He kept repeating his name for several minutes before my mom responded. She rolled over and asked if he was o.k. His response was, "My name is Richard Dean Adams and you are...." while awaiting her response. Every time he said it, she repeated her name. Eventually, he fell back asleep but mom didn't, of course. Her own pain deepened and in hearing of it, my heart broke.
Truth is, my dad is in there. While he won't be forever, he's there now. He's just harder to find than he used to be.
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