“At what stage is my loved one?” Caregiver’s of Alzheimer’s disease want to know. As an Alzheimer’s Association support group facilitator I present a printed form with a checklist of symptoms showing the Stages of Alzheimer’s disease in four columns. I always add the advice that some checkmarks may be in different stage groups and that the symptom pattern will change.
What we really want to know is how long my loved one with Alzheimer’s disease is going to live. How long will we have him or her with us to love and to cherish and to care for? No matter which stage someone checks, no one still can tell how long we have to live. Alzheimer’s disease is not the only illness people have that will limit their lives; it is really the last illness one dies from after surviving all else and forgetting, usually, how to swallow.
People in the memory care facility where my husband lives have died this year among other causes from kidney failure, a ruptured hernia and strokes. This week my husband has a chest cold; I worry about pneumonia, but his immune system is strong. He is ambulatory, he feeds himself, he toilets himself and is able to communicate his needs to others. His personality has reverted back to the pleasant, mannerly, sweet, caring, loving person he was before his diagnosis. I am not ready for him to die.