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There’s no way to positively spin Alzheimer’s. It’s a terrible disease that brutally robs not only from its victim, but from the victim’s friends and family. Day. After day. After Day.
In fact, one of my greatest fears in life is the thought that one day my mother or father may suffer from Alzheimer’s or Dimentia. This is somebody who raised me. They sat through my baseball games from tee-ball to NCAA. They taught me how to drive a car. They drove me countless times to chess tournaments and would wait for hours during my matches for me to emerge from the doors of the game hall, either crying or grinning like a madman. And someday they might not even recognize me.
My grandpa never completely lost his grip on reality, but there were definitely times during the end of his life where he was no longer the guy I used to play catch with or lose against in cribbage. A few weeks before he passed, my dad and I were trying to convince him to take his umpteenth dose of medicine that day so that he’d stay alive. About a half hour into negotiations, he seemed to come to some sort of realization, and I’ll never forget what happened next. He looked at two of the people who loved him most very suspiciously and said: “Wait, I’m just trying to figure this out here. Is this about my health? Or my behavior?”
And as I watched my dad react to his own father accuse him of feeding him mind-control drugs, it absolutely terrified me that a few decades from now I could be having the same exact conversation with my dad.
Like I said, there’s really no way to spin Alzheimer’s positively.
But there are times when a sufferer can snap back into the mind of the person they used to be, instead of a seemingly different person in somebody else’s body. All of the lows that come with this disease for the family of the victim make these family members really appreciate these moments. Perhaps the best example of this that I’ve ever witnessed can be seen in this video of Ted McDermott that’s taking over the internet.
Now eighty years old and ravaged by Alzheimer’s, Ted no longer travels all over the United Kingdom singing in clubs like he used to. In fact, he’s known as “The Songaminute Man” because of the seemingly endless library of tunes in his head. Or, at least, that used to be in his head. His health has severely declined in the last few years. Often he doesn’t recognize family members and has recently had many aggressive episodes. But on the way home from a recent shopping trip with his son Simon, a song came on the radio that Ted recognized.
Even if it was only for a few minutes, Simon had his old dad back again. And it is absolutely beautiful to watch.