Traps for young players

Or, rather, traps for all players! Age is no barrier to Alzheimer’s, as many have discovered. And the effects and behaviours are very wide ranging indeed. My first glimmer of recognition of its effect on my wife was mostly disbelief. Surely, we all forget things. But back in those early days it just seemed ‘normal’ to be a bit forgetful. Alzheimer’s is more than simply forgetfulness.

Memory is, undoubtedly, the key indicator, but it’s not just that, it’s also a myriad of other variables. It was the unrelenting repetition of irrational behaviour that marked the onset of Alzheimer’s in Dorothy. My wife, the mother of our five children had always been the practical partner. I was often either away with daydreams or away on work; she was always the one devoted and dedicated to the home front. A more committed wife and mother would be hard to find.

The traffic on our road of life was always busy with little time to take shortcuts, or even detours. That journey slowly changed. Our children, one by one, married, and left home.

After I moved out of corporate life, Dorothy and I revelled in running our new venture, a small retail plant nursery. Ten years later, we finally moved into full retirement mode and did some long-deferred travel. During those latter years, our children began to see changes in their dear mum’s behaviour in unexpected ways. As I’ve mentioned in earlier narratives, I almost didn’t see that Dorothy’s frequency of forgetfulness was more than just age related.

It’s common to not recognise the onset or severity of Alzheimer’s. That’s because it most often just sneaks up on us. We are loving people – we make allowances and excuses. We compensate. We shun the increasing reality that there are perplexing, persistent problems in how we are relating to our loved one. We don’t recognise the signals.

Recognition is complicated because it manifests itself in a myriad of mixed-up messages! How we process the responses to constant ‘forgetfulness’ can sometimes cause us to be unaccountably angry, even frustrated. We don’t always see the reason why our lives are changing, and why our responses to our partner’s behaviour are changing, are different, even daunting.

If only. If only I had recognised earlier – just some of those symptoms! If only I had responded, not just with love, but had sought help to identify a reason….

If only. That was my mistake, blinded by love and ever ready to make allowances, I didn’t see it coming…. It’s a trap for young players and lovers, and especially we older ones!