Thursday, February 26, 2009

Living with Alzeimers

As some of you may have remembered my Mum was diagnosed with Alzheimers Disease. As her disease progresses it is becoming more difficult to communicate with her as she is unable to express herself as she once did and there has been a marked change in her behavior patterns. She has periods of extreme anger and then periods of calmness bordering on depression. Some days she refuses to eat or get up from bed and other days I find her in the dining room eager for lunch.
Around Christmas time she was transfered to the Alzheimers unit because she was becoming disruptive at night, keeping others awake. It's very difficult to see someone you love dearly deteriorate in both mind and spirit especially when they were such loving and kind people. She has made some hurtful and unkind remarks that she would never have expressed prior to this disease and I try to always keep in mind that this is really not my mum speaking.
The staff is supposedly trained to work with this population but I have issues with some of them. Mum also has Macular Degeneration and cannot see but most of the staff have strong foreign accents and since she is unable to lip read due to her blindness she cannot understand any direction they may give her. Since her mind doesn't connect with her body, she often is unable to follow commands and the accents do not help.
It is depressing to visit her, especially seeing all the other folks around her who are also in her condition only sometimes worse. Mum worked as nurse for many years and took care of folks like the ones she is with now and this has made her situation more difficult because she in her clearer moments understands what has happened.

I am quoting from a Minneapolis Star Tribune headline this morning. " Gagne case: Death ruled a homicide." This case is about a local and maybe national wrestler who was born and raised here. He is a great and kind man who always contributed to our community a true gentleman and humanitarian. He also suffers from Alzheimers disease and was placed in a memory loss facility. He shared a room with another patient, a 97 year old gentleman who was a musician and scientist and who fled from Nazi Germany in 1936. Apparently Gagne(perhaps thinking he was still wrestling) picked up Mr.Gutmann and body slammed him to the floor, broke his hip and suffered a head injury. He was released from the hospital but passed away shortly after. His death of course has been ruled a homicide (in pure terms) and the death is being investigated by the police department. Mr Gutmanns wife feels Gagne cannot be held responsible due to his Alzheimers Disease and feels it would be inhumane to prosecute him. Apparently he is still in good physical condition but his mind is basically gone.
This is a tragedy for everyone involved and demonstrates the horror of the disease and the need to find a cure.
As a side note, we knew Gagne my husband knew him and when I was young my father would take me to a few of his matches. He wrestled pure, long before the modern day wresters with all the gimmicks. A good man but a sad ending.