Hanging on the wall outside each room on my mothers unit are "memory boxes". They are filled with photos and memorbilia of each resident and are meant to help them find their room if they get lost. Frankly, I've never seen a single resident look at the boxes. I think they serve to remind the rest of us never to forget that our our moms and dads were once vibrant, passionate and fully participating people in our world.
Two CEO's, a physician, a model, a photographer, 4 teachers, 2 engineers, 3 accountants, 7 housewives, a postman, mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, grandparents and a large group of World War 2 and Korea veterans make up my mothers world now. They are all lost in the past and wage a far bigger battle than they ever did on the battlefields or in the classrooms and boardrooms. Forgetting the thought on the tip of their tongue brings tears of frustration. Feeling abandoned by all whom they love, when in fact those same loved ones visit everyday.
Alzheimers is the "thief of hearts", the robber in the night and the remorseless sociopath. It takes and takes from each victim and family it targets. When you think it can take nothing else, it finds one more thing. It robs you of your past, cheats you of your future and influences every moment. It denies the ability to say "Enough, I just want to go now". I have looked to find the hidden good in this journey with my mother. She has taught me a new level of compassion and she has taught me the value of appreciating each moment as it comes. I keep you in my heart mom.