Alzheimer's steals so many things from the person suffering from its random hits. One day the suffering person knows the name of every pet they've ever owned and another day, they can't remember the name of their best friend of the past 40 years. First it steals the memory, then dignity, then eventually life itself. A thief with a name everyone knows, but tactics and strategy that no one can anticipate. It steals our word power, then moves on to the big ticket items like taste and smell, and then ultimately removes from us our priceless memories.
After chatting with Mother for a few minutes, she frustratingly gave me the following clues:
- You know my little blue shoes!
- They go with me when I walk!
- On the floor!
- Larry made then!
- They aren't there!
- Oh! You know!
Wait, there is more. As Paul Harvey used to say, "The Rest of the Story." A quick chat with the physical therapist revealed that they had removed the shoes and replaced them with a newly engineered plastic ski that resists even a jack-hammer tearing it apart. They quickly realized that Joan was extremely unhappy about her blue shoes being removed. She walked in and out of the therapy room (on and off all day long) muttering, "someone stole my blue shoes." Alzheimer's patients often get stuck on one thing and repeat it over and over like a broken record. (I know because as a caregiver, it's one of the most frustrating indicators of this disease.)
But alas, a quick thinking and compassionate therapist came up with a plan - he drilled a hole in the blue shoe ski, affixed it with a screw on to the new non-destructive ski and re-attached it all to her walker. Final result? The new ski is in its proper place and allows for her safety, but when Joan looks down at the floor she sees only her blue shoes that Larry made for her. A win/win for all of us!