The Person There

A cure for Alzheimer’s is the goal for everyone who is impacted, both the one with the disease and the caretakers who look after them. In this kind of trying struggle hope for an eventual escape is important for everyone to hold onto. However, while holding on to hope there is a need to deal with day to day life.
Having experienced several relatives go through progressive memory loss it is clear that no two paths are the same. Some phases render the person with the disease unable to recognize life-long relatives or spouses. The disease can erase all socialization resulting is strings of profanity from the mildest of people. One instance lasting several months with had the person verbalizing at length in syllables that did not constitute any known language. Myriad other examples exist.
All of these have one common thread. Whatever the degree of memory degradation, there remains a person, but one who is suffering. That person needs recognition and compassion. The historic person known to friends and relatives may not be there in the fullest sense. But there remains a person there. It is vital for those interacting with diseased people that they make every effort to interact with that person – however impaired that person may be.
A helpful analogy to the situation is the concept of lace. Lace, at one level, is cloth, which is embodying holes. The key is not to focus on the holes but on the beauty of that which remains. Until a cure is available there is a critical need to honor and recognize that beauty and personhood in each person experiencing memory loss.