Dear Family and Friends,
Today is World Alzheimer’s Day. In many ways, it’s just another day in the fight against Alzheimer’s, but in other ways, it’s a chance to focus on the little things about Alzheimer’s that make it so difficult. Fortunately, there is often a way to find joy along with the sadness and frustration of this disease.
Below, Barbara Webb graciously shares another recent experience as she and Al continue to face their future with Al’s Alzheimer’s disease. I love the way they handle the questions and frustrations that the diagnosis, and that living with Alzheimer’s, has raised in their lives. She is so honest, and yet so very graceful. I hope reading this brings you a smile and a bit of hope, and that it is also a little reminder about how important support groups can be to helping you face life with Alzheimer’s.
We know it is normal for Al to forget words when trying to express himself. Sometimes it takes awhile for me to fill in the blanks, but I usually am able to do that.
I have recently become concerned because, more and more, I am having trouble coming up with a particular word I am trying to think of when speaking. Al is not usually able to help me, so I tend to get quite upset with myself.
I guess in a small way, this is an insight into what those with Alzheimer’s go through all the time. Of course it worries me that there could be two of us in the same house with this disease, but friends, family and those in my support groups all say it is the stress I am under that causes my mind to go blank and leaves me unable to think of a word.
I am going with that (otherwise, I will probably go nuts!!) But I have to admit that I don’t handle it very well when this happens. I get quite frustrated and angry. And that only makes it more difficult to think straight (another insight into what our loved ones deal with on a daily basis.)
Out of the blue one day when I was trying to come up with a word, “Shaboomaha” came out of my mouth. I have no idea where it came from, but Al and I looked at each other and cracked up laughing. So from then on, whenever I can’t come up with that word I am looking for, I just say “Shaboomaha” and it immediately eases the tension and makes us relax. By the way, usually when I relax I remember what I wanted to say. Once again, it reassures us how important humor is in our lives, especially when dealing with a devastating disease like Alzheimer’s. Try it and let me know what crazy word you come up with to get past the frustrations!!
I agree with Barbara that humor is a very useful tool to ease stressful situations. I use it with my children to diffuse anger and frustration, and also at the office. My grandmother used to say, “Oh Fiddlesticks,” and I tend to spout out, “Clearly, I need retail therapy.”
If you’d like to learn more about Alzheimer’s and how you can help us in the fight to find a cure and the effort to ensure local support groups are available to those facing the disease, please visit www.alz.org/kyin.