Today is June 21...the longest day of the year. The Longest Day is also the name of the event The Alzheimer's Association has during Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month.
Luckily I don't have much experience in dealing with Alzheimer's. Two people that I know of. One suffered for years, the other only a few months. I've always felt the short timer was the luckier of the two.
Back in the olden days what is now known as Alzheimer's or dementia didn't have a name. You would hear about people becoming senile...sometimes used as a joke or a put down. Turned out there was nothing funny about it.
I remember this story so clearly, it was as if it happened recently. It was more than 40 years ago.
On a Saturday afternoon, I walked into my house and was greeted by my parents. One of them said that I was needed to sit with my Aunt that night. The look on their face showed there was no way out. The reason was they were going out with her son and my Aunt wasn't able to stay by herself. A few hours later I found out why.
My cousin told me that everything would be fine just not to let her out of the house. She'll eat dinner, get tired, go to sleep and that'll be it.
For a couple of hours everything was fine. We had a very pleasant time. Lots of conversation. I didn't really know this woman very well even though she was the sister of my grandmother. During dinner everything changed.
The conversation pretty much stopped and she started talking to me like I was 10 years old. It became uncomfortable very fast.
The part of going to sleep after dinner never happened. She tried to get me to go to sleep.
Then she wanted to go out for a walk. Uncomfortable became a little scary. I did make sure all the doors were locked. She may not have been going to bed but she wasn't going out on my watch.
We decided to watch some tv. It went well until she saw my Dad. Trust me when I tell you my Dad never was on the Lawrence Welk show. Then she saw her son...also on tv.
Eventually a new show came on but the characters remained the same. Scary!
Eventually the family came back. My cousin handed me $20. I took it and got out fast.
I never had a chat about that night with my parents or my cousin. Better left unsaid. I did talk about it with my sister because they used her to "babysit" a few weeks before me and had pretty much the same experience.
As sad and heartbreaking as that story is, we have come a long way in those forty plus years. It's still sad and heartbreaking but at least it's now understood and there isn't a stigma surrounding it.
My fellow Blogger, Alisa Jordan has been running a series for Alzheimer's and Brain Awareness Month. I was proud to open the series with a guest posting. I hope that I raised Awareness just a little bit.
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