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  • Emily Tessmer

Riding A Bucking Bronco: One Family's Journey with Alzheimer’s Disease


Maybe it’s the air pollution from Genesee Avenue, or maybe it’s all of those benzodiazepine-based meds she took throughout the years to combat her anxiety and PTSD.


Maybe it’s the presence of glyphosate in the non-organic foods that were on the dinner table every night that is creating those beta-amyloid 42 proteins to build up.


“Do you love me?”


“I am forever your loving husband.”


The tears stream down.


And the next moment, “Do you know where my husband is?”


He is downstairs reading, but to her, he has left no trace and she feels abandoned and distraught.


“I think he is on a fishing trip in Wisconsin, mom.”


“Again?"


With Alzheimer’s, it is impossible to predict what will happen next, and it is equally impossible to seek out lasting solutions. The ground is shifting on the daily.


Our family is riding a bucking bronco.


One of the angles suggested in order to maintain harmony, is to tell little white lies in order to protect her emotions from the hard truth, which is, “We already told you that.”, or “You have told us this already.”


The part of her brain responsible for handing off information to where memories are stored is no longer able to make those connections, and somedays she is no longer able to recognize the faces she once knew.


Her brain is changing, and intermittently she is no longer able to process what she sees as a whole picture. This, is why many with the disease, are no longer able to recognize the faces of their loved ones.


Her perception of reality is now fragmented, and we are left to pick up the pieces.


There are good days and bad days. Days where she is with it till the end, and days fraught with confusion and anxiety. The key to our survival, is to go with her reality, and not argue with or correct her, because it is counterproductive and will inevitably cause shame, anxiety and sadness.


Just because she has a hard time remembering what happened five minutes ago, doesn’t mean that she doesn’t feel the emotions surrounding the pain of having the disease.


One in five women will develop Alzheimer’s by age 65, and two thirds of the cases are in women.


The hidden gift in Alzheimer’s disease, is that the present moment is all we have together. It doesn’t matter what has happened in the past, or what will happen in the future.


And in the words of Ram Dass, all we need is to ‘Be Here Now’, my beautiful mom, my greatest teacher.


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