Living at Peace with Alzheimer’s at home vigil

You need

  1. Some quiet time, maybe some quiet music, maybe just quiet.
  2. A Candle

Consider

  • There are over 5,000,000 Americans living with Alzheimer’s.
  • Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death.
  • Every 71 seconds someone is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
  • 3 in 10 Baby Boomers will be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s

When you are ready. Read this poem aloud, say the name of your beloved, or simply say, “People affected by Alzheimer’s and their caretakers.” Then light the candle and sit in reflection. Thank you for joining us.

Alzheimer’s Memories
By Ann Keeler Evans©2009

Where do they go, those memories?
As they slowly slip away.
Do they flee to some alien parallel universe
Along with those socks we lose in the wash?

Who knew that memories
Such tiny, elusive things
Could leave such huge and painful gashes
In the minds and psyches of those that lose them.
And are they ever really gone —
Or do they simply play their own nasty version of hide and seek
With the brains of those who cherished each particular past,
Robbing people of the certainty of their competence
Flirting cruelly with the here and the now.

How long does it take for those who love the memory losers
To notice?
How long before “what’s the matter with you?”
Turns to suspicion, then disbelief
Then to dazed horror.
Who accepts first?
Where do you turn for help?
Who has help to offer
When your brain is slowly being ravaged
By an element
We have been told is crucial to our well-being?

How do we cope?
Every instinct is to cover up, deny, repudiate.
But this is a relentless disease with no mercy.
Sooner or later we must all make our peace.
How else will we find those moments of unquenchable joy?
Those simple pleasures,
Those treasured smiles filled with tenderness and love?

For so many of us, our trust and respite is in the kindness
Of the mostly women and few men who carefully tend our loved ones.
The sweet dailiness of so many lives rests in your hands.
You deliver their meds and their daily quotient of hugs and kisses.
You catch their smiles, wipe their tears,
And then your own, as the lives of these gallant, funny, fascinating patients
Wind down, wink out, disappear.
You keep your hands and hearts open
So that the old ones can depart
And the new ones can make their homes in your embraces
And your daily routines.

For as long as I can, my dearest one,
I will remember with you and for you
And I will hope, and pray, that someone will be there
To remember for me.
Let us remember together.

As you light your candle, please name your loved one.

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