- Posted March 24, 2011 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
What I Know: Alzheimer's disease
Three Generations of Alzheimers and Counting
I have few memories of my maternal grandmother. I was very young when she died. But I heard, at almost every family gathering, the stories of her actions that caused alarm and fear for her husband and her children. A devoutly religious woman, taken to running around the mountain naked. Using swear words. Not taking care of her hygiene. All related to "hardening of the arteries" as diagnosed by her doctor. She had to be watched constantly.
Forward 40 years, and I found myself coping with similar behavior from my own mother. This time though, she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. And I nearly lost my sanity, trying to take care of her when she moved to our home. She was no longer able to live on her own. Even though she "appeared" to be my mother, she was not the woman I knew. And, in her memory, I was her sister, not her daughter. She had never married, or had children - she was still living on that mountaintop with her parents and her 11 siblings. Life, was still a good place for her.
Since her death, several other siblings of hers have been diagnosed with and died from the disease. All of them older than she - she was only 68. And, a first cousin, daughter of my mother's oldest sister, died in her late 40's - the first instance to my knowledge of early onset.
So, my siblings, and my cousins, all wonder about the future. While most Alzheimer's is said not to be hereditary, with our family history, we believe that in this instance, it must be. How many of the next generation will it touch? Knowing the possibility exists, we are trying to work through possible scenarios for our futures. We all agree that should it hit us, we don't want our children to have to deal with taking care of us. We know what a hard road that is to walk, and hope for better for our kids. We hope that the amazing doctors and scientists trying so hard to find a cause, and more importantly, a cure, do so in time to help our children's generation. We know it's probably too late for us.