Dealing With Alzheimer's Disease As A Family
Health and Wellness

To Families Dealing With Alzheimer's Disease, You're Not Alone

Alzheimer's disease is real and it's affecting families all over the world.

To Families Dealing With Alzheimer's Disease, You're Not Alone
Renee Kennedy

I come from a family who likes to pretend as though everything is always OK. From the outside, my family is nothing short of perfection. Happily married parents, two sets of healthy grandparents and two smart daughters who are set up to succeed in every aspect of life. Bad things happen to other people right? Not us, not our family.

In reality, things are much different. Illnesses happen, arguing happens, unexpected, tragic events happen. Sadness at some point is inevitable — most people accept that as a fact of life.

Not my family.

All of these normal mishaps in life are either hidden or not talked about, and it has always been like that until recently.

Three years ago, my grandmother, Nonna as we call her, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease after my mother grew concerned over her sudden forgetfulness and weird placement of household items. It came as a shock to all of us considering the type of person we've always known my Nonna to be. A loving mother and grandmother, an extremely gifted artist of 55 years and a type-A neat freak.

How could it be that the most talented, sharp-minded person in our lives could develop such a disease?

In the beginning stages, my grandmother's diagnosis was kept quiet. My grandfather refused to say the word "Alzheimer's" in fear that if he spoke about it, it would become true. Over the next several months, we started to notice subtle signs of the disease. A question asked twice, a bracelet that went missing. It didn't really become real until my grandmother, an art teacher of 14 years, forgot about a drawing class she was supposed to have taught. Nonna had never missed an art class, art was her job, her passion, art was her entire life.

After 55 years as an artist, my grandmother stopped painting. How can the brain forget how to do something it has done every day for 55 years? My family was heartbroken.

As time progressed, my grandparents' beautiful colonial home began to slowly deteriorate. My grandmother stopped cooking, expired food rotted away in the fridge. There was dust on every piece of furniture, flowers and plants began to die and the lawn was way overgrown.

My grandmother's appearance began to change, too — she wasn't showering for days on end and she stopped wearing her amber glass lipstick that she's worn for decades. My grandfather wasn't doing so well either, but how could we blame him?

To watch the woman you've been married to for 50 years, slowly forget everything about herself, it's truly heartbreaking.

For so long, my grandfather tried to keep my Nonna's disease a secret. They lost touch with their closest friends and even their own brother's and sisters. It only got worse as time went on and my grandfather became my Nonna's full-time caretaker.

For three years he wouldn't accept help, he wanted to carry on with life, as though her disease would eventually go away. For three years my mother would drop everything to drive down at any given hour of the day or night, to help them when things got bad.

There came a time, just a few weeks ago, when it became a true danger for my grandmother to continue living alone with my grandfather. Walking became a struggle and falling became a constant worry. It wasn't until a few weeks ago that my mother and her sister convinced my grandfather to move my Nonna into a memory care facility in my town. Of course, it was probably the hardest decision he's ever had to make, but he just couldn't take this on alone anymore.

My grandmother is now safe and taken care of in a facility that specializes in her disease, but the pain and suffering of the loved ones around her will never go away.

Since my family has been affected by Alzheimer's disease, I think we have all become a lot stronger. As a family, we have overcome many obstacles along this journey and my mother has gone above and beyond daughterly duties to help her parents in ways she'll never realize. Our family is now vocal about what we are going through, my cousins have run 5Ks to help fund Alzheimer's research.

The past three years have put us all through hell, my mother and father taking the brunt of it. It's the hardest thing I've ever experienced, watching my mother slowly lose the woman who gave her life. My mother is the strongest and most caring person I know. I only hope I can be half the person she is one day.

For those of you also dealing with this disease, you are not alone.

Alzheimer's disease is taking over the minds of more and more people every year, and yet there is still no cure. This disease is stereotyped as an "old person disease" so funding is very limited. You won't understand until someone you love forgets everything. If you have someone close to you who is going through this treacherous journey, giving them endless love and support is the best thing you can do to help.

Report this Content

119 People Reveal How The Pandemic Has Affected Their Love Lives, And Honestly... Relatable

"I haven't been able to get out of the 'talking phase' with anyone."

The reality is, there's no part of life the pandemic hasn't affected. Whether it's your work life, your home life, your social life, or your love life, coronavirus (COVID-19) is wreaking havoc on just about everything — not to mention people's health.

When it comes to romance, in particular, people are all handling things differently and there's no "right way" of making it through, regardless of your relationship status (single, taken, married, divorced, you name it). So, some of Swoon's creators sought out to hear from various individuals on how exactly their love lives have been affected since quarantine began.

Keep Reading... Show less

Nordstrom's Biggest Sale Has The Most Legendary Deals On Luxury Beauty Brands We've Ever Seen

Counting down the days to the Chanel box set gracing my front door.

I oftentimes (excessively) use the excuse of my job as a writer to justify my excessive spending habits.

I needed the new Huda Beauty palette before anyone else in the name of journalistic integrity. It was my job to test out the new Francis Kurkdjian fragrance to make sure I could tell people whether or not it was truly worth the splurge (it was).

Keep Reading... Show less

Listen, you can do whatever you want with your free time. It's yours to spend and you have free range. However, I hope you recognize that there are a ton of proactive things you can do right now instead of stalking your man's ex – yes, I know you do it becuase we are all guilty of it.

Take this time to research your privilege. There are always new things to learn and ways to deepen your understanding of yourself, this world, and your surroundings. We live in a multi-dimensional, ever-changing society that needs your help and your time. By that, I mean there are so many layers to each and every one of us, and with our physical, mental, spiritual, or emotional selves, we can create real, positive change.

Keep Reading... Show less

Preview These Top Nordstrom Anniversary Sale 2020 Picks — From Luxury Purses To Skincare

Currently 3 million people viewing the Stella McCartney purse I absolutely must have.

Online shopping has been a guilty pleasure of ours for years, but now more than ever it's been a shopping lover's outlet for all our home redecorating projects and resort wear we're purchasing for that trip we had to cancel.

One of my favorite places to (virtually) window shop has always been Nordstrom. I admittedly can't afford to go on sprees there often, but I still get a high off of adding things to my cart I know I'll never actually end up buying. But sometimes, that's not enough — that's when I, like the masses of luxury-, beauty-, fashion-, and decor-lovers around the world count the days down to the annual Nordstrom Anniversary Sale.

Keep Reading... Show less

I remember the days where closet drinking before going to a party or bar was part of the night's itinerary. It was a requirement to have a good buzz flowing before calling the Uber to take you to that bar where you see everyone from your high school at. The pregames were the best part of the night, but it wasn't ever because of the alcohol, it was because of the atmosphere and those who were in it. The number of times I've heard "Wait, why aren't you drinking tonight? C'mon, get drunk with us" is endless, but think about it. Where were you when you were asked that? You were at the goddamn pregame and being there doesn't mean you need to be ripping shots. Being social doesn't require alcohol.

I asked 20 people how they cut back on alcohol while still being social.

Keep Reading... Show less

Whether you are quarantining away from your significant other because of coronavirus or separated by the country lines at this time, it's fair to say that long-distance relationships are tough no matter what. However, there are ways to show love from a distance whether that's through daily FaceTime calls, cute Snapchats, or sexy pics sent to them on their phone. You can brighten up their day even more with some of these unique gifts that can fit any price range and a variety of interests.

Keep Reading... Show less

Rihanna is known for many things: her music, fashion, makeup, and now skincare. As a makeup artist myself, I can confidently say that she rocked the makeup world when she released her makeup line in 2017 and has been influencing the beauty world ever since.

Trying some of her makeup products myself, I know that she doesn't skimp on quality, and even though some of her products may be a little pricey, trust me, you get what you pay for.

Keep Reading... Show less

Friends, no one needs to be reminded that the COVID-19 pandemic rages on in the U.S. Frankly, this is because we have all collectively decided not to do the one simple thing that was asked of us and wear a mask.

I could make this a very boring article, and berate you with facts and statistics and the importance of wearing a mask, but I have opted against that for both of our sakes. Instead, I will attempt to reach you in another way. You might not care about a disapproving look from me, but from Nick Miller? Maybe that will be enough to change your mind.

Keep Reading... Show less
Facebook Comments