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Summary: Lisa Hirsch offers a heartfelt and candid look at her relationship with her Mother, who is suffering from advanced Alzheimer's. Lisa's world with her mother is a mix of good days, and bad days (all relative, of course). However, Alzheimer's has offered a 2nd chance to develop a relationship with her mother - one in which she has fallen 'madly in love with her.'
Over 5 million people in the United States have this disease and it is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States
Author: Lisa Hirsch exclusively for Assisted Living Directory
Lisa is a contributor for Assisted Living Directory
As my summer vacation began, the same week as my birthday, I reflected on some conversations that I have recently shared with my mother.
The one thing for sure, since she now has Alzheimer's, is that she has no idea of when my birthday is, Alzheimer's in the United Statesor how old I now am. Honestly speaking, her not being able to remember my age is not such a bad thing. She has no memory of the day that she gave birth to me, nor when she held me in her arms for the very first time. On a good day when I tell her how old I am, she is able to joke around with me and tell me that I am catching up to her.
My father is no longer alive and so for me, I do not have a parent that can celebrate the day that they welcomed me into the world. I just thanked my mom on my birthday for bringing me into the world and she answered with how did I bring you into the world? Mom, you gave birth to me. She seemed surprised and confused about what I had just said. I knew from the moment I called her that this was not a great day for her. Fortunately, on many days she can still be quick witted and sharp. This was not one of those days.
I am not saddened from this, although it can cause a pang in my heart. For me it is an observation of what is. When earlier in the week I had mentioned to my mom that it will be my birthday in several days she then said, oh I hope I will remember. I quickly reassured her not to worry for I would certainly remind her. When my mom says things like this, I smile to myself sensing innocence in her as if she were a young child.
These childlike ways seem to go hand and hand with having Alzheimer's, and at these moments we seem to reverse our roles of mother and daughter. I am able to accept all of this, and as life goes on, I can hold on to how lucky I am that my mom still remembers who I am. I still get to hear her sweet voice say my name.
My mom and I did not always have a close relationship, although I loved her for being my mother. Yet somewhere in my teens and later on when I was already married with a child of my own, we often had these fighting matches. Mom always thought that I started them, and I always thought that it was she who started them.
None of this matters anymore, for I was given a second chance after my mom became ill, to fall madly in love with her. This statement is not an exaggeration but only the truth. My mom has become my hero and each day I am able to love and cherish all that we still can share.
As I awake each day, in the morning I phone her, and within the first few seconds of our conversation, I immediately know what kind of day she is having. I can hear it in her voice and how she responds to whatever I say. I am a long distance caregiver, which saddens me that we do not live close to one another.
Although I believe she is now in stage 5-6, she has been doing relatively wonderful. Wonderful meaning that she is still able to spell and enjoys singing along with me. She can remember the lyrics to some songs, although she has no memory of most other things. Her answers are many times humorous and her quick sharp responses always seem to amaze me.
For here is a women that cannot remember the day her own daughter was born, or my husband of thirty years, yet somehow she lights up my life. My mom continues to inspire me each and every day.
I try to imagine a world one day without Alzheimer's. Over 5 million people in the United States have this disease and it is the 6th leading cause of death in the United States. As of now it cannot be prevented, slowed or cured. Alzheimer's costs the nation over $200 billion dollars a year. There are over 15,000,000 caregivers many who are family members caring for the person with Alzheimer's. Every 68 seconds in the United States, someone new is diagnosed with this disease.
I am completely committed to spreading awareness about Alzheimer's throughout the world. It is a horrific disease that has no boundaries. It is truly a worldwide epidemic that has no nationality and no country that it would not attack. I hope that you might like to join me in the fight to end Alzheimer's.
Copyright © 2012 by Lisa Hirsch
- Article by Lisa Hirsch exclusively for Assisted Living Directory
Such an insidious condition, and such an 'insulting' way to spend out one's golden years. Thanks for the insightful article Lisa.
3 July 2015 at 1:24 pm
Lisa - thank you for sharing. I am sure that your experiences will spread awareness about this horrible disease.
23 July 2012 at 10:24 am