Alzheimer’s Humor

There’s nothing funny about Alzheimer’s disease. Usually when I say something like that, I’m joking. This time, I’m not.

My mother has Alzheimer’s, the kind that comes early and relegates a person in her sixties to a shell of her former self in just a few years. The kind that makes the son who lives in California feel pretty bad that today is the first day that he’s actually spent a whole day alone with her, caring for her.

Me: “Mom, where are you going?”

Mom: “I don’t know, but I’m going there!”

Me and my lady prepare to eat ice cream.
Me and my lady prepare to eat ice cream.

For a disease that assaults the minds of 5 million Americans, Alzheimer’s remains stubbornly mysterious. We don’t know what causes it, and we can’t prove you have it until you’re dead.

My mom has now been attempting to get dressed for 20 minutes. She came out of her room still in her nightgown. I asked her if she found her clothes.

“No. But I will. My clothes are somewhere. Aren’t they?”

My mom got all existential on me there. She could be my mother; she could be Sarte. She’s pretty heavy for a lady who spends all day in the same chair talking to Earth’s most annoying dog. Sometimes she also talks to Ellen DeGeneres through the magic of nonexistent two-way television.

“Do you know the people with the things?” she asks.

This is a valid question, but not one that provides me with sufficient information such that I might provide an intelligent answer. I fight back tears. I ask her if she’d like some more Diet Mountain Dew, which ironically potentially contributed to her current condition. It’s too late now. It doesn’t matter. Some people think eating kale or taking magnesium or avoiding sugar will help a little bit, but it’s not worth the trouble. We can genotype and find bosons and photograph Mars, but we have no idea why my mom doesn’t know who I am or where I live.

She eventually found her pants, and she’s wearing them correctly. Sometimes that’s the best we can do.


7 thoughts on “Alzheimer’s Humor

  1. I’m right there with you Matt. Just know that my only reason for living is to take care of that beautiful lady.

  2. As a caregiver myself of a 87 year old mother, I can certainly understand what you’re going through, but I’ve found humor has helped me a lot. To that end, I wrote a book called Dunwody Journal: Reflections on Alzheimer’s, Mid-Life Obscurity and Everyday Madness. What started as therapy for me has resulted in a ‘testament’ to the need for humor to help deal with such challenging situations. Perhaps you should consider writing one, too. Also, while nothing can reverse the ravages of dementia, I actually have found that giving my mother several tablespoons (mixed in with her food) actually eases some of the symptoms. There is early research going on now about the benefits of coconut oil and I suggest you read up on it for more information.

    Good luck to you.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s