Each year on the fourth Thursday in November we get together with family and friends to celebrate and give thanks for all we have. Why would anyone give thanks for Alzheimer's disease?
Perhaps being thankful is just another way of looking at the disease.
First of all, there are promising treatments being discovered daily. New drugs are discovered to hold back the more severe symptoms of the disease. We now live in a time when the disease is recognized and treated, and not swept under a rug or brushed off as just part of someone getting old. We are more understanding of the disease and treat the individuals with the disease with more respect and kindness.
We can focus on the fact that our loved one is still with us and that we can touch their hand, look into their smiling face, hear their laughter, embrace them or just share an ice cream sundae with them.
Be thankful that you still have time to tell your loved one all the things that need to be said. You can tell them how important they are to you, tell them how much you love them, how you appreciate all the loving things they did for you when you were small like teaching you how to bait a fish hook or drive a car, thank them for just being there for you.
We can be thankful that our loved one is not in physical pain, the majority of Alzheimer's individuals are in excellent physical health and do not have to endure that sort of suffering. Be thankful for that blessing.
Be thankful that you have access to good medical care and information, support groups, caring family members and friends to help you, and the love of an individual who can't help how they are thinking and acting but still love you all the same just like before the disease came along.
Be thankful you can be that special someone to that Alzheimer's individual who relies upon you to make what time they have left on this earth safe, nurturing and happy.
Being a caregiver is a rewarding experience and also the hardest job you will ever have. It's hard work and you might not think the individual is aware of the hard work you are doing for them but I believe in my heart that the person with Alzheimer's, in some way, knows that they are cared for and loved. And best of all, you know what you are doing and have done and that will bring you much comfort when your loved one is no longer with you. Treasure all your moments together and find comfort in them. You are blessed.
Bonnie Lingard is a program staff member of the Alzheimer's Assocation. She is based in Omaha, Neb.