My brother-in-law is within the middle stages of Alzheimer’s. He lives with a woman who may not wish to, nor be able to take care of him throughout his remaining days. She says she will see how it goes, particularly during this current time when he is in a program to test a new drug. She says she will see, but I know the process of this disease and I am not sure if she will be able to physically and emotionally deal with all she will need to deal with. Already she sees changes, as the rest of the family sees changes in him. I see him as very fragile now.
Many years ago I cared for his Mother while she struggled with Alzheimer’s. Chaim is now following her into the same abyss and possibly even my spouse, his brother, may walk the same path. Even today M. said his brain didn’t seem a part of him or that it just left his head, went somewhere and made him feel funny. I watch him. I know he is right. M. used to hold court on being the best with concepts. Now, I often have to suggest, or pose a question so that he focuses on the right track. His brother is far past these telltale signs. He is much more advanced and for a while the drugs seemed to help greatly, although when he doesn’t take them he is markedly worse. At times when he is over he must ask where the door is or how does one find a bathroom. At home he is unable to decide what to wear and never knows how to get to where he wants to go.
Just this past week we had a party, a family reunion for all of Martin’s siblings. At the party Chaim took his sisters to the room I said was his. He wanted them to see it and know it was offered to him. A couple days after the party, one of the sisters and her husband spent a some time with us. We chatted and then suddenly she talked about her concern for me. She knew about my offer to care for Chaim and she was aware that Martin wanted to be tested. She asked how I could do this so shortly after taking care of my Mother for six years and prior to that of caring for their Mother. My answer to her was very simple–even though care giving may become tedious, it is a thing in which you wish to provide for family.
Within one of the many Tomorrows on the horizon I will be guided further in knowing when I may be needed. My hand is already stretched out to Chaim. Time will only tell me what to do and what I should do.
Nearly a year ago I first wrote this post and never posted it. As I read it now I smile because the hands of time turn and turn and with its passage so much happens. It is still a strange story continuing on. Martin was tested. He was told he was fine, although, depressed. He still will not take antidepressants and still believes he will start showing more signs of mental deterioration within the next few years.
His brother Chaim now lives alone, yet his girlfriend still visits him. She visits now in a caring way but almost in a meddlesome manner. She also wants to stay in connect to get as much $$ as she can out of him. The family has had to go through many changes with the two of them and particularly in how to deal with Chaim and secure his future.
And yes, he was to move in with Martin and I, but Chaim is not his Mother. She was bright, funny and easy to help. She accepted her life and just moved on into the future by trusting Martin and me. Her days, the last four years were happy for her. She enjoyed being part of the family and being with them rather than away from them. Chaim is argumentative, will not admit he has a problem and always has some family member who he abhors. It is sad, yet it will always be like it is with him. Telling him to give up driving and his car was pivotal to him as it should be but it was filled with hate and accusation at all who loved him. Now he soon will face needing to move again to a new place. Our house would have been perfect but every one agreed that he would never allow it to be a peaceful arrangement.
Alzcheimer’s isn’t something you would wish on anyone. My heart goes out to anyone with it. If Martin is correct that he will worsen in time, then that will be very sad because I strongly believe he will follow his brothers ragged path, rather than journeying onward like his Mother.
To care, To love, To Reachout—Always isn’t so easy with everyone.