"That woman was there.." Our sweet lady with Alzheimers Disease had somehow found her way into the bathroom with the mirror at the Day Center. We have another bathroom without a mirror for people who are disturbed by mirrors. This lady had just recently become very sensitive to mirrors. She was shaking and scared. I helped calm her down and redirect her to other more positive places to be.
She and another severely affected lady cling together sometimes. Holding hands and smiling. They both have devoted husbands and it is so tragic to see the steady decline. What stress and pressure this horrible disease imposes on people. It just is NOT FAIR.
I knew another Alzheimer patient who would try to see behind mirrors. He was sure there was a person standing there. We had to rig up a covering for the mirror in his room. We also rigged up patterns in front of other patients' rooms so he would not wander in and try to get in their beds or mess with their stuff.
I just read that having a RED plate makes an Alzheimer patient eat more. It is something to be avoided by a person trying to lose weight but a tragic turn of this disease is that they cannot eat. They want to eat on some level but the logistics of it all escape them. Eventually they forget how to chew and swallow and that is a common cause of death as they curl into a fetal position.
I cared for a lady who was curled into an arched back position. She is the most tragic person I have ever known. She was frozen in this position for the six years I worked in the nursing home. Her mouth was open and when we dropped food in she swallowed. She was not spared the death of not being able to eat. Her eyes showed her terror but we included her in all our activities. Her big hospital bed was right there in the dining room and living room for music and parties. Eventually she passed away. It took a long time.
When you think you are just fine maybe you should take a walk thru a nursing home. Look in some of the rooms and remember how wonderful this country is to take care of people. We do not hide people away in closets and pretend they are not human. We use our taxes to help places stay in business where there is care for some of the most horrible things we can encounter as humans.
Next time you look in a mirror imagine what it would be like to see someone you do not know staring back at you. Who will be there to calm you down and sit by you until you can carry on? What will the toll be on that person if they have to watch you go into this terminal spiral downwards into chaos? Alzheimer disease takes your words and garbles them so no one knows what you are saying. Who will be there to nod their head and make you think they understand even if they don't?
Anxiety. You think you know what it means to worry? Try worrying if anyone knows where you are. Imagine not knowing where you are or how you got there. We give notes to people who ask the same questions over and over and over again. " Your family will pick you up after lunch."
"Is that today? How do they know where I am? I have to call them. Do you have a car you could take me home in? I need to go outside to see if my car is there. You won't let me do that? What kind of place is this?"