The bulbs are flickering but still light the room.
Outsiders rarely understand Alzheimer’s disease. If they don’t or haven’t cared for someone with Alzheimer’s 24/7 for at least a week, they presume the state of our loved one to be better or worse than it is.
A few outsiders believe that a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease indicates the immediate shut-down of all mental capacity. The person with the disease suddenly loses all ability to function.
However, the majority assumes the loved one to understand significantly more than they do at any given stage. Our loved one often is friendly during a short visit. Therefore, visitors believe they are like that all the time.
In fact, as the disease progresses, disorientation and assistance with daily living needs become constant. Our loved one requires total assistance and remembers significantly less than most realize.
The difficulty for outsiders stems from the fact that people with Alzheimer’s often appear well. The outward changes we notice in a person with a physical illness such as weakness, greying skin tones, and even a diminished voice are not evident in most people with dementia such as Alzheimer’s until later stages.
In addition, we rarely engage with people more than in polite conversation, which people with Alzheimer’s often can continue for many years. The disease isn’t revealed until an extended discussion occurs and memory and comprehension are required.
One of the best analogies I can give you is to compare Alzheimer’s to light bulbs in a chandelier with faulty wiring. Bulbs flicker, some are out, and gradually, all will go dark. In the meantime, the light continues to shine in varying degrees for as long as two decades, although the average length is 8 years from diagnosis.