Have you read Still Alice? That book changed my life. I guess it’s a movie now too. 2014? Where have I been?
A lot of the focus in real life (maybe too much?) is on the family and loved ones AROUND a person with dementia. It’s a hard experience to be forgotten by someone you’ve always known. What Still Alice does is give the reader more empathy for the person WITH dementia/early onset Alzheimer’s and what they go through, as their entire sense of awareness deteriorates behind their eyes.
This post is not meant to be a plug for this book, but I thought of it this weekend during Thanksgiving. My grandmother has dementia. I don’t make time to see her–I’m really bad about that. I don’t write her letters, I don’t call. I moved away to Minneapolis and then I came back to my hometown as a young man. She would have a hard time recalling me, her oldest grandchild, even if I had stayed mostly the same. But that person doesn’t even exist anymore.
I try to introduce myself as her grandson, try to say inside jokes we used to have to bring forth a light of recollection, and the vacant look in her eyes is too much. My grandma didn’t ever have a grandson–only six granddaughters.
What does she think of her oldest granddaughter? She never even comes to Thanksgiving and Christmas.