I am big fan of Julianne Moore, so seeing her in “Still Alice” was something I have wanted to do for a long time. But I don’t like going to cinemas, and I forgot about it for a while. Yesterday I remembered, and I found “Still Alice” on APV.
It affected me deeply. One, Alice is just two years older than I am now. I know it is very unlikely I will get this kind of Alzheimer’s, because it is hereditary, and my parents are doing fine (my father turns 73 in August, and he beats all of us). And yet… My brain may be my biggest problem, but it is also my greatest asset. I always liked to think things through carefully, and I liked my job as an accountant because it was often challenging me. It would be very hard if I lost that.
Second, it made me think about my grandmother, who dramatically declined cognitively in her last years. We never had her tested if it was a kind of normal senile dementia or Alheimer’s, because it wouldn’t have changed a thing. It was a creeping process, she wasn’t able to solve her crossword puzzles anymore, she didn’t know who she was talking to on the phone, money was missing, she thought someone had broken into her appartment or robbed her, she repeated herself constantly. She slipped into a different world, we didn’t get through to her anymore. We tried to help her as unobtrusively as we could. Even her good days were bad, because then she recognized all the things she couldn’t do anymore and became desperate.
At the same time anxiety and depression came back into my life after being absent for a long time. For months I didn’t tell anyone, but this only made things worse. I was so busy battling my own demons, I didn’t treat my grandmother as patiently as she would have deserved. Because her life was changing completely as well.
I am not very proud of how I behaved during this time. People who suffer from dementia may not understand what is happening, but they still feel and understand emotions. And on the emotional level she surely felt my impatience, my depression and my confusion, but no love.
There’s nothing I can do for my grandmother, she died in 2006. All I can hope for is that I learned my lession, and that I will behave differently should other people in my life suffer from dementia in the future.