Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Things You Never Want to Lose

I noticed a juice that supports brain health sitting on the floor of my parents’ kitchen.  It could be coincidence that they bought that specific juice, especially since my dad is known for buying intriguing juice flavors, but I think it might be due to a growing concern of developing dementia.

My grandfather, who just passed away in May, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.  He was such a quiet and peaceful man that the effects really weren’t too noticeable.  His wife, my grandmother, has various forms of dementia, and due to her inquisitive and caring nature, it’s been noticeable for years.  At first, it was saddening to answer the same questions every few minutes, but eventually, it became second nature, and I grew to answer each question with the same amount of enthusiasm without a trace of sorrow.  For the most part, my grandma usually remembered who I was, and she was interested in my life so much that our conversations were mostly filled with questions about me.  That was the way our relationship was, and I found solace in the fact that she cared so much about me, so it didn’t matter that I constantly had the same dialogue with her. 

However, the angst that I was able to overcome has crept back into my heart over these past two months.  Many of us were fortunate enough to surround my grandfather during his last moments, and when he passed, the grief took a stronger hold on all of us.  But what broke my heart into little pieces was my grandmother constantly reliving that crushing moment of grief over the news of her husband’s death.

Even now, she still doesn’t always remember, and while her disbelief and devastation is not as intense as those first two weeks, it really doesn’t get any easier to remind her.  I find myself constantly grieving for her, and wishing that she could hold on to her memory.  On days that she remembers on her own, I optimistically think that it is a sign that she’ll begin to keep this memory.  However, science knocks me back to reality, and I regretfully acknowledge that Alzheimer’s and dementia do not get better, but rather worsen over time.

While I feel selfish for contemplating it during this period, I can't help but wonder if Alzheimer's will be my fate as well.  I've noticed that I've been forgetting things more than usual lately, and I'm not sure if it's my typical memory loss, or if I'm just more in tune to it because of my paranoia over developing symptoms.  I'm only 31 years old, and as far as I know, early-onset Alzheimer's does not run in my family, so I take some consolation in that.  Regardless, I installed a chess app on my phone to keep my mind sharp, and have been wanting, and forgetting, to get a few crossword books.  I've put a lot of thought into increasing my antioxidant intake, and that's why the pomegranate blueberry juice in my parents' kitchen grabbed my attention the other day.  Maybe I'm not the only one. 

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