At some point during one's life, I believe we will all suffer from some form of this dreaded disorder. Particularly, in my case, it isn't pretty to look at. The blank stare of not knowing, comprehending, nor understanding what is happening, frightens me. I may be subject to the same fate as my father.
To overcome what I've had to deal with during recent setbacks or challenges, provides an opportunity for growth and expansion in the study of the human condition. Yes, these are mere words for all to comprehend and/or understand.
My father, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's sometime in 2004, taught me many life lessons. "If it is to be, it's up to me" was one of those self-motivational sayings I'd hear when I had the opportunity to be with dad. What kept me going, was to learn more of his traits and realize I could wind up in the same future situation if I did not alter the way I lived.
Pay attention to what and how food is consumed on a daily basis. Eat small meals. Do not eat just to say, "I've eaten."
The next thing I'd consider is just how much data or information can be absorbed in the human brain before it needs to be shared with the remainder of society.
Sitting in my wheelchair, I tend to have deep thoughts which are sometimes irrelevant to the present day's economic situation. I'd remember how dad would pull from his deep pockets a "Jackson" or a "Franklin" and he thought nothing of it. He'd carry his daily spending money, as he put it, out in the open. There were times when I'd see his goofy side, as he'd pull his false teeth out, sing an Irish song and perform a leprechaun dance. These were the "good" days.
I now try to call him on a fairly regular basis, not that he knows who I am, but a son's voice can spark a memory or two. I get put on speakerphone so that both he and his caregiver can listen. I oftentimes have momentary lapses in the conversation because I just don't understand how this debilitating disease affects his cognitive abilities. It gets me upset, but I can't do anything for him?
I ask his caregiver if she can recall his "knocks on the noggin" and try to chronologically position them in an applicable time frame. Memories of the past are recalled and I find out that dad got upset with the everyday occurrences we all have. Automobile mishaps, pets getting lost, house repairs, telemarketers, politics, his teeth (or lack thereof), eating habits, reading, writing, and what he enjoyed for relaxation.
Dad didn't have any real hobbies, except golf and an occasional Redbirds game. That's minor league baseball, in case you don't know. He wasn't much of a football watcher, maybe because of the violent nature of the game. Never did get to ask, now it's a little late to find out his reasons why.
He's got a birthday coming up shortly and it is the holiday season, after all. I discovered an old stocking from 1998 with the name "Genevieve" on it. Found out it was an older lady whom dad took care of. That was my dad; he took care of many people. He kept spiral bound notebooks, writing down names, addresses and contact information about fellow law classmates, a slew of business associates and everyone's unique statistics. Those notebooks were his internal computer. He could not type at all and perhaps that was the reason he married someone who could.
In closing, a poem to live by:
These are but a few factors
Which involve the makeup
Of the continued existence
Of the human race.
Effective utilization of all powers
Pre-determined by a Higher Authority
Can lead to greater understanding
Provided we communicate effectively and respectfully.
When we understand the relationship towards another
Success will be the determined outcome.
Michael J. Henry is a Sheridan resident. Send comments to email@example.com