A close older friend had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's when I first met her about 5 years ago. She is a widow with no children. Here are a few thoughts:
  1. At first, very articulate, very happy. Read NY Times every day & many books/magazines. Wrote stories/articles. Drove.
  2. Stopped driving, sold car. Lost sense of direction on foot.
  3. Gradually became more and more forgetful, to the point where she needed a live-in 24/7 caregiver in Sept 2015. Read very little. Sense of balance declined.
  4. Gradually became more unhappy, with many delusions, like "my cat is dead". Cheered up when shown the living cat, but as soon as the cat was outside of her line of sight, back to "my cat is dead."
  5. When I spent time visiting her, I would answer the same question dozens and dozens of times. I learned to be a much more patient person repeatedly letting go of whatever impatience or annoyance I was feeling. I realized there was not going to be any magic turnaround: kindness and compassion and patience were all that mattered.
  6. Recently, she no longer always recognized her caregiver. Her friend who had her power of attorney/healthcare power of attorney made arrangements to place her in a memory care facility, which is like an assisted living facility, but specializing in people with memory issues. We brought her there today. She was unhappy & wanted to go back home.
  7. Continued...Several staff people patiently persuaded her to see the place, check out her room. She ended up staying, but not a happy camper about it. But her cat can live with her there. Hopefully, that will help. The facility has 2 dogs that it owns that live there...a nice thing. Staff members take care of them.
  8. This is a hard disease, both for the person, and those close to her/him. And I only experienced a little bit, nothing like what a spouse or child or live-in caregiver might go through.
  9. Also, a sense of humor helps.
  10. Moral: this could happen to someone you dearly care about. Grounded kindness and patience are vital qualities to have, for this, and for life in general. I'm not a parent or a special needs teacher, or I might have learned this earlier.