The path of Alzheimer’s is a downward slope. As of now, there is no cure, and there’s no getting better. As much as we understand that, it’s human nature to stop periodically and wonder what we can expect to happen next with our loved one.
Most often, the answer is the same. No one can know for sure.
Everyone progresses through the disease at a different rate. Every person with Alzheimer’s has a unique mental, physical, and emotional makeup. Each issue affects the brain. If someone has diabetes, high blood pressure, and a history of depression, the brain’s health is impacted by this cocktail. That person is likely to have more issues than one like, my husband, Marshall, who had no other underlying health problem.
In addition, the rate varies from time to time. Often we see someone decline for a while, and then they steady through a plateau before declining once again.But the pace can pick up without warning and take a direct downward slide, particularly if they have a fall or an unexpected illness.
Marshall appears to me to be declining more rapidly the last few months. From the beginning of his 12 years of Alzheimer’s symptoms, he kept a slow, steady pace. Visitors who saw him yearly would notice the difference, but the disease gradually nibbled away at him, so it wasn’t drastic.
Now the progression is alarming to me from week-to-week, sometimes daily.It’s more difficult for Marshall to get in and out of the car.He needs assistance walking down a cub. I cut his food. And there is little we can talk about.
Recently, we lost his daughter to cancer. Marshall only once momentarily recognized his emotional attachment to the beautiful young woman in the coffin. He didn’t truly realize it was his beautiful Chrissy.
Yesterday Marshall asked what I was carrying out of the restaurant. As much as I tried to explain, he couldn’t comprehend what leftovers was. He couldn’t understand why I’d go in a restaurant to eat but come out with food. And he barely remembered us eating lunch only minutes earlier.
I can’t help but wonder what will happen next, what other piece of my husband will be taken away. I have so many questions. I wish I knew how he will be in a week or two. Will I be able to manage him this coming winter in the snow? Will he even want to go out then? Will he get to a point where he can’t communicate at all? I wonder most of all, if and when he’ll no longer recognize me.
On second thought–I don’t want to know.
(If you’d like to make a donation to the Alzheimer’s Association and their efforts toward support and research, please support me on the upcoming walk. And thank you so very much for those who have donated! The cure begins with you!)