Memories and Emotions
By Randy Alexander LSW
June was Alzheimer’s month and I was reminded of my grandfather and how the disease affected him and his loved ones. In both cases the memories and emotions of both parties are affected. For those of you who may not know Alzheimer’s is one of the leading causes of dementia. A simple description .Plaques and Tangles form inside and outside the brain cell. These are made up of the proteins Amyloid and Tau. These are normal proteins found in the brain cell but begin to behave abnormally, killing the host cell. This causes the brain to shrink as time goes on, and has larger and larger effects on memories and emotions of both the diagnosed and caregiver. In the beginning a person with Alzheimer’s may see their short term memory begin to diminish. Forgetting words, places or why they walked into a room. These can be seen by the person and others as just a sign of old age. Both parties may even chuckle about it, As the illness progresses and symptoms worsen, the person may become more agitated, anxious and even angry. This begins to affect their moods and interactions with others. Memories of past and present make us who we are and what we believe, fond memories of loved ones and friendships are integral to how we interact with the people in our life. New memories are how we increase those positive feelings towards others. When these memories are impacted in a significant way a person may begin to resent the people around him or her and lash out. One way this could be done is by refusing help from others and lack of good judgment/ choices. The person will make statements that are not true or real and then admonish anyone who is contrary to that statement. This may be because they feel themselves slipping away or because they don’t want to be a burden and want to prove they are still in control of themselves.
As caregivers and family members, there is a want and need to help your loved one. However you see that person whom you love slipping away, and losing the memories that you all shared. It might seem as if they have become a different person and in away they have. Your old memories are being replaced by memories of sadness, anxiety and at times even anger and resentment. In younger family members feelings of love can be replaced with fear and avoidance. As caregivers you are given the responsibility of care and increasing costs, monetary costs, emotional costs and physical drains on your body. A person may experience feelings of guilt because of these costs and emotions. These feelings are normal when faced with a situation that you are powerless to stop. Showing that love and affection for your loved ones means so much. But don’t forget your own self care. If possible, take some time for yourself, if you need to talk with someone. In closing I would like to say that memories of all involved will change, but try to remember who the person was not who they have become. Replace the new memories of sadness with past memories of the life and love that you shared.
If you are looking for support due to a family member suffering from Alzheimer’s please reach out to Owens & Associates at 847-854-4333