Sunday, June 24, 2018

CAN ONE LIVE TOO LONG WITH ALZHIEMER'S?


CAN ONE LIVE TOO LONG WITH ALZHIEMER'S?

My mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease at the age of 80. For the first several years of her illness, she was able to live at home with part-time caregivers. Approximately five years ago, her cognitive functioning deteriorated and we moved her into a nursing home. Fourteen years after her diagnosis, my mother is now 93(August turning 94) and except for her macular degeneration, she is on no medication for any life-threatening conditions.

Several weeks ago, two members in my Alzheimer’s group suddenly lost their mothers, even though they joined the group after me. Every time this happens I question, why my mom is still alive after having dementia for so many years?

I know how that sounds. But let me explain. When she was first diagnosed, even though we had had a strained relationship, I fell in love with her unconditionally. I devoted myself to managing her care and our relationship flourished. Any ambivalent feelings that I once had no longer seemed important and magically disappeared. We shared our laughter and acted so silly almost as if we were teenagers. But today, after 14 years with Alzheimer’s, things with mom are quite different.

What kind of life can mom now possibly have? She exists, but does she really? She no longer has any appreciation of any of the beautiful things that once surrounded her world. Memories of her husband and children are all but gone. For many years, she’s had no idea of her age, her life, her family, nor even her existence.

Mom use to love to go to museums, movies and theatre. She enjoyed her morning walks or strolling on the beach. She adored reading, had a great quest for knowledge and loved taking continuing education classes. For many years now, none of these things have been a part of her life.
Now, although she probably does not know the difference, she walks around sterile hallways passing others who are confined to wheelchairs and no longer speak. I have often said that she is the lucky one yet I now question..is she?

If she could speak or see herself through different eyes, would she want to keep on living? I believe deep in my heart that I know her answer. The answer is what I would want for myself. I believe that when someone’s quality of life disappears, decisions need to be made.

Regardless of your beliefs I am certain that we can all agree that Alzheimer’s is one of the cruelest diseases. It takes away one’s entire world as if it never existed. There is no cure and the ending can be gruesome. So, I ask you, should someone with Alzheimer’s have the right to choose to die? In several states with other diseases you do have that choice. One can decline treatment, but with Alzheimer’s there is no treatment and one can live for many years with no awareness nor quality of life.

Most of us choose not to speak about this yet it is something that as human beings should be our right. We should be able to make our own choice of how we live and when we should die. My choice has always been that I would die with dignity, through physician-assisted death if need be, in order to have some agency in the process. That is what I so heartily wish for my mother.
 
 
 


 

 
 


                                


12 comments:

  1. Lisa, obviously your mother's body is strong enough to go to over a hundred, that's with the exception of her brain. It's sad.

    Make sure you and your brother have signed all legal papers to prevent CPR, resuscitation if she stops breathing. I hope they play her favorite music in her room, so she can enjoy something. When her time goes, encourage her to let go and enjoy being with your father once again.
    Hugs dear friend.

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    1. My sweet dear friend(maybe my oldest). You are so correct mom will most likely live a few more years since she is so "healthy"....no meds even at her age. I know that only means watching her disappear even more. That truly frightens me. Yes Gil & I have everyone aware of her Health Proxy. Hope to see you one day soon. xoxo

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    2. Gd willing, enjoy what you have. Life's too short for some.

      This post is included in my Blog Roundup, Enjoy Posts From A Variety of Blogs Blogging is still alive. The genre of personal/privately run Internet "magazines" is live and well.


      This is illustrated will old blogging pictures. Who can identify them? If so, please give info in comments, thanks.

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  2. I love that you’re not afraid to say what so many think. I recently wrote a similar article. People tend to shush you when you say things that make them uncomfortable, even though they are the painful truth, especially when it comes to Alzheimer’s and other dementias. My mom has mixed dementia (AD and VD). Thank you for your honesty.

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    1. So sorry about your mom. Saying how nne feels will always have others express differences of "opinions". Yet releasing our emotions and feelings may "help" others and it definitely helps heal us. Sending big hugs. Lisa

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  3. How wonderfully written My mom has Alzheimer’s and was just in the hospital. She still speaks and walks but needs care. Palliative care came in because we thought it was it. However she bounced back, is Home. Each time she goes into the hospital there is a little deterioration �� Your thought are thoughts of many. But I think people don’t want to say the words. Thank you Robyn

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    1. Robyn thank you for sharing and even more for understanding. Hugs, Lisa

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  4. Lisa your mom has a strong will godbless her and you for being a great supportive daughter

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  5. I agree with you, Robyn, that living without enjoyment, recognition, memories or awareness of even your own person is not a life of quality. My mother is 94 and has had Alzheimer's for 15+ years. She is currently living in a memory care facility after having in-home caregivers and living with us for several years. Like your mother, she is not on any essential medications but takes some for comfort and regularity. It is hard to say how many years she has ahead of her. I, like you, wish she could have had a say in what quality if life would be sufficient for her and what would not be sufficient and that legal means were available to follow her wishes. It's a very difficult and sad situation for the individual, the family and the community at large.

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    1. Christine, first I want to thank you for sharing. I am saddened that we are on similar journeys, yet at the same time, I know that we truly understand each other. Hugs, Lisa

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