Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Alzheimers and Addiction

As I have mentioned before, my mother has Alzheimer's. She has good days and bad days. She still lives at home with my sister and is alone all day while my sister works. It hasn't gotten so bad she needs full time care.

I'm an impatient person. I'm not sure I could be a primary caregiver like my sister but one never knows what they are capable of doing until it is required of them. However, in dealing with Alex I have learned very good life lessons about patience and acceptance.

I see at times similarities with Alzheimer's and addiction. Patience and acceptance are characteristics highly valued in dealing with either condition. In the past I could see myself not understanding the limits of a person, even with a disease. It just wasn't my nature. Fortunately I had enough time with Alex that I learned the necessity of  patience and acceptance. I can't imagine how I would have handled it if something tragic would have happened to him before I got to that place.

Alex is getting better. I see him maturing and growing. I'm not saying that it is over and he is cured. I am just saying that progress can actually be observed in his life. Nothing like that comes without struggle and I am sure there are struggles for him I cannot imagine but that is his world and I try hard to stay out of that world so that he continues to grow.

With my mom, there will only be good days and bad days. There isn't long term recovery. But I see her doing all she can too. It would be easy to become impatient, answering the same question, telling her the same thing over and over but I have learned a great deal from my son, even as he was addicted.

Alzheimer's, just like addiction, you must accept what they have to give. These are diseases of the mind. Each disabling in a way I do not understand but must accept. Each person doing exactly what makes sense to them at that very moment, is that wrong what they do or is it just the way it is? The way it is must be accepted. There really isn't an alternative with either person. They are both doing the best they can.

Once again I need to work on myself. I need to find a way to use my time more wisely. The urgent must not overwhelm the important. The important is watching my son grow. The important is being a hero grandpa to a couple of little ones. The important is to see my mom smile when I visit because she still recognizes me. The urgent can wait, the garage can remain a mess another day and the grass may grow a little higher than I like.


Midnitefyrfly said...

I absolutely loved reading this post. I am at a point in my recovery were I would say I have more bad days than good days, but I am doing the best I can with the knowledge and experience that I have.

I think it is great that you are learning and growing and that you have made some realizations about what is important.

Lou said...

I've learned to listen. Surprising what I missed when I knew it all.

Since we started blogging I see in both of us a willingness to let people progress at their own pace. That includes the addict, the family, and ourselves.

Those are good changes, but lessons learned the hard way for sure.

Hattie Heaton (Mom of an Addict) said...

Understanding any situation allows for compassion. I was also a member of the "know it all club" and still have to remind myself how little I really know. I read a book called "Still Alice" written by a phd in neuroscience named Lisa Genova...it gave great insight into what a person with alzheimers must go thru...it was a great read. Check it out. It won't disaapoint.

Syd said...

Bless you and your mother. I too get impatient at the same questions and the forgetting. I have to remind myself that these old people deserve respect and to be listened to. It does me no good to correct them or to be irritable. I am glad that I am still learning these lessons of relationships.

Tori said...

I am so sorry. We went thru this with my Grandma and now my Aunt is doing it and it is so hard to be patient and let her tell the same story 5 times in one day. I know it is not her fault and she hates that she forgets things it is far worse for her than me because she is in the first stages and after what her Mom did she knows what her future is.

Great post Ron.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Ron. You make such great points. Thanks for helping me to be more patient and focus on what's IMPORTANT, not urgent!
Susan Mayberry