Sunday, September 25, 2011

He Remembered All the Words!

Have you ever looked at someone you have known for years and had no idea who they were? Have you ever had a conversation with someone and completely forgot what you were talking about only a few seconds later? Have you ever been afraid of where the water in your shower comes from, to the point where you’re scared to even take one? Well this is how people with Alzheimer's feel every day!

My grandfather has had Alzheimer's for 9 years now and in that length of time he has changed more than I ever could have imagined back when I was 8. He went from being a Lazar tag playing man that he was, to the man who just likes to sit on his porch. He has gone from taking a shower every day to taking one only 1-2 times a month, because he is genuinely scared of where the water comes from! He used to be one of the most well known, honest Realtors in Davenport. Now he doesn't even remember being married to his wife after 63 years of marriage. This is the kind of thing my family has had to watch as the years have gone by.

At first it starts slow. In the first stage of Alzheimer's, no dementia can be detected. Once you reach the second stage you begin forgetting where certain objects are and not being able to think of a word. When you reach the third stage, people start to notice. One begins forgetting names of people they have just met or they can’t remember reading something they have just read. During the fourth stage Alzheimer patients find it more difficult to remember recent personal history or have difficulty doing more complex tasks. When crossing into the 5th stage’ a person may begin to not remember things like their phone number or their address. They also cannot remember where they went to school or be able to pick out an appropriate outfit. In the second to last stage, things are very serious. At this time, patients can’t remember how to flush the toilet or brush their teeth. They may even begin forgetting their spouse’s name or people who are very close to them. When patients reach the final stage of dementia, they have trouble functioning. Things like movement begin to be uncontrollable.

My family is very lucky. When my grandpa was himself he enjoyed doing a number of things! He liked speaking German, loved his job, and really, really loved music. He even used to conduct his own orchestra!  Last Christmas when all of my family was sitting in a circle, something amazing happened, my grandfather, the man who has had Alzheimer’s for 9 years, the man who can’t even remember who I am, began singing White Christmas! We all began singing with him, so excited to see how happy he was! But just the fact that he remembered how to sing was amazing. On top of that, he started conducting all of us and he was able to sing the whole song, all the way through! HE REMEMBERED ALL THE WORDS. For an Alzheimer’s patient who is in they're 6th stage of Alzheimer’s, this is a miracle! I can’t think of a better time for something amazing as this to happen. I’m just so happy that after 9 years, the man I had nearly forgotten was himself again, and he was actually having fun. We had all missed him.

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