World Alzheimer's Awareness Day 2019
World Alzheimer’s Awareness Day 2019 has come and gone…
It falls on September 21st of each year. On this day Alzheimer’s organizations around the world focus their efforts on raising awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia. Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia, a group of disorders that impairs mental functioning.
Did you know that… Every 65 seconds, someone develops Alzheimer’s disease? At current rates, experts believe the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s will quadruple to as many as 16 million by the year 2050.
September 21st 2019 fell on a Saturday. The same Saturday that my mom, who is my dad’s full time caregiver asked me to stay with him while she traveled out of State for a 2nd memorial service to bury the ashes of my Tio Kiko who passed away a year ago.
I always look forward to spending time with dad. I miss our conversations, he always wanted to talk about business… What I was up to at work, and what he was “trying to get started” in terms of his freelance writing business. These days, it can be hard to have a coherent conversation with my dad. Aside from the Alzheimer's, he has a severe hearing impairment in both ears. He has two hearing aids, but refuses to put them on.
Mom left for South Eastern AZ around 7 AM - a 3 hour trip to the “Rancho” where she spent most of her years growing up. I had let her know that I would be over to their house between 9:30 AM and 10:30 AM, as my dad usually doesn’t get out of bed until around 10 or 10:30 each day. It’s a fifteen minute walk from my house to my parents house (I made sure that we were nearby when we moved backed from Austin in 2017). By the time that I got there at 10:05 AM…. Dad was up, he was sitting at the kitchen table looking at books. I say looking at because even though I hear him read notes that we write out for him… Like - “It’s time to take a shower” or “Do you want a sandwich?” I don’t know that he is still able to comprehend everything that he reads. It seems like he reads the same sentence over and over trying to decipher its meaning.
He’s got plenty of reading material in the house to choose from. There are literally books in every room of the house. Todays picks were about how to “Make Money Freelance Writing”. He was able to tell me that he never really got it going the way that he wanted… The Freelancing that is. He doesn’t say it in those words exactly. It’s more of a connection that we have, a way of communicating that only we share. Maybe its a guy thing… I remember my dad and I riding in the truck together on the way to play a round of golf. We could go 20 minutes without saying a word to one another. When we did get to talking though… Dad was always a great listener. I always felt comfortable speaking to him about anything. I like to think that he feels the same way about me now. I hope he knows that I don’t judge him when he forgets words, or makes a mistake - like when he read out loud… “Making Money Freelance Reading… No Writing, AH! It’s all bullshit anyways!” I just smile, and let him know that I understand what he’s trying to say. I tell him that he was a great writer, and he should be proud of what he accomplished.
We spent most of the day watching college football on TV with the subtitles on, and the sound off.
We sat outside on the porch while it rained.
I made sure that he knows I love him…
Although my dad doesn’t always recognize me as his son... He knows that I’m someone who loves him... Today is all we have... Be present. Allow those suffering from dementia, and Alzheimer’s to live a dignified life by sharing kindness and love.