What an extraordinary thing memory is. When you start the morning not knowing what day it is, not remembering what happened yesterday, not quite sure what happens next, each day is a succession of new experiences.
We take our memory for granted. But when it starts going, you can’t plan, you can’t look forward to things, you can’t keep track of things you are doing. You lose the security of knowing what has just happened and the assurance that it will continue.
And there’s more that can happen. Alzheimer’s affects different parts of the brain, as Shoko and I discovered:
Cognitive – difficulty with memory, losing things, storing things in odd places to keep them safe.
Emotional – becoming agitated about small things, being suspicious or paranoid, getting impatient, for example about waiting in line. Shoko became very restless when we reached the supermarket checkout; she didn’t want to wait.
Functional – unable to plan, losing skills like sewing or cooking.
Plenty to challenge us. What a good thing that the emotional parts – love and affection and pleasure – aren’t necessarily affected in the same way.
More about this in Living with Alzheimer's – a love story
Published in January 2020 by Instant Apostle; ISBN 9781912726196. Available here to order online.
Or you can request it from your local bookshop.
‘A love story… the effects of Alzheimer’s could not extinguish the expression of Shoko’s love for him.’
Dr Iain Aitken, professor of international public health
‘Highlights the critical importance of combining clinical intervention, support work and good quality advice with compassion and kindness.’
Rob Clarke, CEO Age UK Merton
‘For anyone affected by dementia to read and gain insight from.’
Kim Barnes, community dementia nurse, Central London Community Healthcare NHS trust
‘The book is a treasure, a love story, full of wisdom.’
Howard Peskett, author and theologian