Losing someone could be one of the biggest setbacks in life. One is never prepared for it. Yet, life reminds us this month of September that every caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient realises how lucky he/she is, yet painful to go through the long goodbye.
It is painful not because looking after a person is difficult but the constant reminder that the person sitting next to you means so much, yet does not remember your feeling of helplessness.
You want to shake their shoulders and tell them about the moments that were shared, but it is not going to make a difference.
Experts probably would say it is better to accept the situation and begin the healing process for the family and the person suffering from Alzheimer’s.
The human mind is such that we can cope. There might have been occasions when we thought we will not be able to move an inch without a particular person in life. But people do, when their loved ones depart or walk away from life. They have to because that is the way life goes. People will survive and even thrive when one realises life is a gift to be cherished.
The good side of the long goodbye, according to caregivers, is that individuals are given an opportunity to look after a person who has given so much when everything was right.
Each Alzheimer’s patient’s experience is different. The progression might vary and challenges may differ.
When the world has not been able to comprehend the matters of mind of people who might be considered in fullness of health, one can only wonder the state of mind of people who suffer from dementia. Is there loneliness, fear or longing for the family members?
So many unanswered questions must be causing frustration. But at least two cases of Alzheimer’s from two different cultures I came across were men who could remember their wives. It did not matter whether the wife had aged, but the children as adults could not be recognised by them.
To know they once held such important positions in society in terms of careers that it only makes you wonder even more when the actual onset of the Alzheimer’s condition was and what triggered it.
Scriptures of the world tell us that nothing is ours. We are living on “borrowed time”, yet we are protective of our material possessions not even realising that the ‘I’, as we think, may not even exist as per our perspective. To think, it’s all in our brain that makes us wonder where the ‘I’ begins and ends.
If we were to think the ‘I’ is conditioned by the family upbringing, which is later coated with self-esteem, ego and values, then where does the ‘I’ go when the Alzheimer’s sets in?
In one incident, the person enjoyed drawing immaculate engineering drawings and so I had to argue the memory is not gone completely. Is it then just certain part of the memories? The questions are just too many.
We can only hope science will advance further to tell us more and, even better, find a solution.
But one thing is for sure, blessed are the ones who have loving caregivers because only they can fill the gaps and heal frustrations arising out of the missing links. Love is the best medicine.