During one of my visits with my dad, we noticed some ducks walking around outside his window. Knowing how much he enjoyed animals, I suggested we go outside to see them. As we made the slow walk outside, we noticed the ducks walking down the sidewalk. Dad and I just followed behind them, Dad with his walker and me walking beside him. And as we walked, Dad was calling out to the ducks, “Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty. Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty.”
Did the fact my dad no longer knew a duck from a kitty make me sad? No, not at all. Because I was not in “my world.” I was in his world – the Alzheimer’s world, and in that world, a duck can be a kitty and it doesn’t matter at all. My dad and I just enjoyed our walk, watching the ducks…kitties walking ahead of us.
I think about the joy I experience when my grandson tells me a story. Accuracy goes out the window; no need for proven facts of what is right or wrong. I’m not sad when his tale is filled with purple dragons or beautiful princesses that do not really exist. The joy comes from the time shared with someone who loves me and that I love in return.
This is the same joy I shared with my dad in the Alzheimer’s world. I didn’t see a reason to be sad just because he didn’t have the facts straight. I just enjoyed spending time with someone I loved, and I knew he loved me in return. That brought me joy, and I know it brought him joy too. So, why should I be sad?
I know we are still searching for a cure for Alzheimer’s disease, but until that cure is found, I think it is important to increase awareness and education on how to continue to live life to its fullness – filled with joy, laughter and lots of hugs and kisses. This is so important for the person with Alzheimer’s as well as for the caregiver, family and friends.
We need to change the perception of what it is like to live with Alzheimer’s. Let’s just call it like we see it. If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, it’s probably a…kitty.
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