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Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Progress in Alzheimer Awareness May 24, 2016

In New York, on the number 1 subway train there are cars with social awareness themes instead of advertising. One car reminds folks about being considerate of others, by giving seats to elderly or infirm     People, by saving litter for trash bins, by not grooming themselves on the subway, etc.
This week I rode in a subway car that had the following. "Are the bills piling up in the drawer?"
"Did you find the remote in the refrigerator?" And several more panels throughout the car.
Then the response. "It is never to early(or late) to get help for Alzheimer's disease."
Clever and available for all to see and to think about.

That's progress. It validates the experience some of us are having about ourselves or about those we love. It makes it socially acceptable to ask the questions about behaviors that seem "weird" or out of character. It reduces the stigma of this diagnosis.

My husband who died from Alzheimer's disease eleven months ago, feels so much closer to me when I am in New York, even though we spent the last years of his life in Arizona. Here he was healthy, vibrant, curious. Our home reflects the many collections he loved from the adventures we shared.

And this week I venture out alone again, this time to a destination that we had planned to travel together-Sicily. My husband will be with me in spirit. I will miss his acute sense of direction when we looked for a recommended restaurant. I will miss his knowledge of food--he could read the menu in Italian and know what to order. I guess I won't miss waiting for him to read every note on every item in every museum--except a bit nostalgically. I will be with a group; I will meet new people on yet another island with a long and difficult history. Life goes on and my life is certainly fuller and more meaningful as I remember the times we shared and the joy we each found in our marriage.

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