Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?

I just finished watching an excellent documentary about Alzheimer's on HBO:  The Alzheimer's Project:  Grandpa, Do You Know Who I Am?  Maria Shriver was the host.  Her father, Sargent Shriver, died with Alzheimer's.

Honestly, my current, volunteer work with Alzheimer's sufferers is probably the single, most rewarding and interesting volunteer work I've ever performed.  Every time I walk into the residence I wonder what I'm going to find.  And I brace myself for whatever comes my way.  The death of my mother almost 28 years ago prepared me for the loss of people I enjoy.  However, when I walk into the residence and am told that one of my favorite, elderly residents has died, I feel something move inside me.  Something that chips away at my strong desire to keep my chin up.  The feeling passes quickly, but it still makes its presence known every time nonetheless.

Truth be told, at 49 years old, I clearly see something happening within my own head in regard to memory loss.  I now see that my incredibly vast vocabulary of old doesn't seem so incredibly vast anymore.  I consciously have to think about what I'm going to say before I say it.  Yes, that's probably a good thing, but I used to be able to summon up words without notice and roll them off my tongue with precision.  I can't do that anymore.  More oftentimes than not, I find myself either stumbling over my words or simply not able to recall the word I want to say.  And, honestly, that scares me.  It really does.  What happened to my ability to spout out the quickest and wittiest responses known to man?  Really, what happened?  Heck, I've read somewhere that people who live alone for long periods of time are prone to Alzheimer's.  Well, I've lived alone for years.  And although someone is renting a spare bedroom from me, for all intents and purposes, I still live alone.

I don't know what the future holds, so I won't fret about it.  But I know that unless my finances change drastically, living with Alzheimer's is not an option for me.  Of course, some would say that if I ever contracted the wretched disease, it wouldn't matter to me if I had any money, 'cause I wouldn't know what was going on anyway.  To that, I say, God bless us all.  'Cause none of us want Alzheimer's.  Not one of us.

If you can, check out this breathtaking, HBO documentary right HERE.  Or below.

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