Tuesday, May 26

Alzheimer's Disease

On Monday, I watched about an hour of the first episode of The Alzheimer's Project on HBO. My daughter recommended it. I was interested, but increasingly saddened by the people who were being shown; the loss of memory and indeed, the self, is appalling. EDIT: if you don't get HBO, you can watch the episodes on your computer; just click the link above.

A man named Joe Potocny writes a blog about his experiences with AD. You may find it interesting; especially if you have someone with AD who is close to you. He chronicles his downward progression.

I lost it at the point they showed a man named Woody Geist; a once handsome man who is still very nice looking. He has no short-term memory at all and has to be told often where he is going and why. His wife and daughter were taking him to a gathering of his old singing group. They took him up on stage, and as the other men started singing the background lyrics, he chimed right in with the words to the song, doing very well as the soloist. That's when it hit me how much he (and his family) had lost and I cried like a baby. Woody seems always to be cheerful, however. He repeatedly says "It's so nice we could be together", even though it is obvious he has no idea who the people are. He has a "wife" at the assisted living; a woman who follows him around and pets his face and kisses him. I don't blame her - I think I might too. His daughter and wife and very gracious to the other lady, who doesn't seem to complain when they take him away from her.

This documentary is good at showing the stages of AD, I believe, and we should be familiar enough with them to recognize when someone is showing symptoms. I recommend it!

23 comments:

sage said...

I don't get HBO, but this sounds interesting as it strikes close to home for me.

srp said...

We don't get HBO either. My grandmother had Alzheimers and it comes on so insidiously it is hard for families to notice. My grandfather may have known something before he died as he provided for her care... yet, mom did not. Hindsight is always better.... now, we remember little things that should have been clues. But in the early 90's there was no significant method of treatment to even arrest or slow down the deterioration. Many also suffer from other illness... grandmother had a light stroke, a blessing in disguise as she could no longer wander away on her own. Horrible disease.

JeanMac said...

Thanks for the link, Judy.

Seamus said...

When "Bs" grandmother was sick with it we found some support groups and I can tell you it felt much better to be prepared for what's coming than to stumble into it.

Tabor said...

My M.O.L. had advanced senility. She had no short term memory and did not know who we were, but she still knew enough that it was not AD. Still a very sad trip the last two years that she lived with us.

PI said...

I have been too close for comfort to this awful disease but I think the more that is known about it the better it is for sufferers and carers alike. It can happen to any of us.

norasnovel said...

Woody could sing the words to the song; that's interesting. I know someone in a nursing home who's lost the power of speech, but when a song plays that is very familiar, he can sing the words. The brain is mysterious country.

Arkansas Patti said...

This is somethng we all fear more than Cancer.
Somehow I feel it is harder on the persons being shut out than the poor soul whose mind is shutting down.
Wish I got HBO.
Thanks for the link.

kenju said...

You can watch the episodes on your computer - just click the link in the first paragraph of my post.

Arkansas Patti said...

Just came back from that link and am blown away. What a guy.
That poem says it all. Thanks for letting us know about watching the show. I will check that out now.

Mar said...

Thanks for the link, Judy, I am thinking of Mia Farrow's movie...

Evil Twin's Wife said...

I'll have to watch the episode. It sounds riveting and informative!

robin andrea said...

Thanks for the link. As much as it will be hard to watch, I think it's so important. We have a friend right now who is in the beginning stages of AD. His wife and family are facing a very relentless descent. Truly tragic.

Barry said...

Both my wife and I have 90 year old mothers in differing stages of alzheimer's. It is a tragic and heartbreaking illness.

tiff said...

Don't think I'm strong enough to watch that special...

OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

I saw it when it first came on here in L.A, It us really very informative but, rather depressing, too....
I too was struck by Woody....I rememberred years and years ago, the wife of a man wse all knew who had AD and she really did not remember anyone anymore...BUT, when she sat down at the piano, she remembered ALL the music she ha d ever learned....It was quite amazing and painful, ALL at the same time. I agree that this is a very very worthwhile series, and beautifully done.

Inanna said...

Sounds like something that would make me cry. But, always good to be informed and attentive as my parents age.

Bob-kat said...

I watched a similar programme once and it was so sad. The gradual erosion of self is awful to see. It must be so awful to watch a loved one gradually forget who you, and indeed they are.

Darlene said...

I recently wrote a post on short term memory loss. It is frightening when you begin to forget things you know you should remember. You ask yourself "Is this the beginning of Alzheimer's Disease?"

My only consolation is they say that the patient is not aware of it happening unless told. I hope that's the case. So far I am remembering the important things and still paying my bills on time. ;-)

Grannymar said...

My Grandmother had dementia she died in the 60s. Sometimes she thought I was her school pal and on others she was more lucid than I was. I am not sure if Alzheimer's Disease was known about then, it certainly was never mentioned.

Dianne said...

just your description of Woody made me tear up

Sheri said...

I have viewed parts of this, but it frightens me. Dementia runs in my husband's family. He's only 57 but is very forgetful and his having a brain MRI next week. Wish us luck.

David said...

it may be too close to home for me - right now. but thanks