My Aunt Ann has Alzheimer’s. She is the fifth person in our family who is suffering with it.
Even though this is my 5th family member with the disease, it isn’t any easier than it was when my dad died in 1986.
He was the 1st family member to have it – early onset. He died at age 57; buried with full military honors (Lt. Col. Charles Parrish). He was exposed to nuclear testing and Agent Orange during his military career; they say that’s most likely what caused his early onset and early death.
At the time of my father’s death, our family provided a 3 generation genetic bank for the Bryan Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, which helped researcher’s worldwide locate and identify the APOE e4 gene. <click the links to learn more>
My grandmother (Ann’s mother), father (Ann’s brother), and Ann’s oldest sister (Aunt Laura) have all passed away.
Ann’s ‘just older’ sister, Peggy, is at the blissfully unaware stage. By that I mean she doesn’t know anyone & no longer speaks or worries about anything. Peggy is lost within her own world now.
Ann is 79, and is well into the disease, but remains cheerful and pleasant to all. When she meets someone, Ann will say – with a big smile on her face, “Hello. My name is Ann and I have Alzheimer’s so I’m going to be repeating myself.”
I bring this up not only to spread the word about Alzheimer’s but to share the opportunities it gave my family; and hopefully someone reading this will benefit from the information.
The advantages of our family’s Alzheimer’s experience is that we’ve learned that time is fleeting and memories are precious.
To help you and your family, I like to offer the following insights to the benefits of The Slow Death.. .
- My family had the chance to ‘soak up’ each member of our family because we knew their mind and memories would soon be gone.
- We shared the stories, names & important dates of our past family members; so future generations would know their heritage.
- We labeled photographs so the names of the people and the event when it was taken wouldn’t be lost to us forever.
- We learned how to help them cope with their deteriorating memory by offering them a notebook to write every visit, thought, memory in. And once, they lost the ability to read and write, we kept it for them and read it to them.. repeatedly.
- We all learned to be more patience than any Parrish ever had before! We are strong willed and outspoken usually, but learned to react more slowly and empathetically with each new challenge.
- We have all been advocates for Alzheimer’s – participating in studies, Alzheimer’s Walk to Remember
- We learned that even with a lot of time to prepare – we never quite were.
- We talked about funeral wishes… and butterflies, flowers or gifts… a PRICELESS discussion when the time came.
- We laughed over our proposed Epitaphs..
- We shared our past losses, things that left a hole in our soul.
- We ALL have preplanned and paid for our funerals.
To quickly sum it up, we grabbed every moment, every memory, every piece of information and planning ahead for the inevitable while we could. Because as anyone who has gone through A Slow Death of any type they KNOW how fleeting these precious moments are.
HELPFUL LINKS: (if you don’t see what you need, leave me a comment below, I’ll find it for you)
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Heart Disease
- Veteran’s Funeral Care
- Funeral Consumers Alliance
- Power of Attorney forms for each state
- Health Care Power of Attorney
- Wills, how to and why
- State by state end of life directives
- What is a Life Celebrant for Funerals?
- End of Life Plan
I recommend that you look these up NOW! Don’t delay.. you and your loved ones will be so very grateful you did.