Alzheimer’s disease is not a sign to stop loving

It’s a miraculous and humbling sight to see a young grandmother holding her three-month old grand-daughter – especially when that grandmother has Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s obvious the old instincts of motherhood (to which she is no stranger) are still very much alive and well (at least for a little while).

Anyone who’s watched a loved one suddenly fade away due to this horrific illness, understands the difficulty in seeing the person you remember with your eyes, only to find a stranger has taken their place.

But as I’ve come to realize (and cherish) every so often they come back to us. Maybe not 100%, but enough to remind us they’re still here, still living and still in need of our love – perhaps more so than ever before.

Maybe it’s nothing more than a smile, a hug, a laugh or a moment of clarity when words are clear and true. Or in the familiar way they hold their young grand-daughter – kissing her softly on the head; holding her gently in the sweet caress of her arms; whispering “I love you” and appearing as proud as any grandmother would given the situation.

I recently read this inspiring quote on the very personal site Fade to Blank – Life Inside Alzheimer’s. It read, “There is one thing Alzheimer’s cannot take away and that is love. Love is not a memory – it’s a feeling that resides in your heart and soul.”

It’s easy to look at someone suffering from Alzheimer’s and say, “It’s not the person I used to know.”

Bob DeMarco, from the wonderfully honest site Alzheimer’s Reading Room once remarked, “I often hear people say that a person suffering from Alzheimer’s is not the person they knew. I wonder to myself – who are they then?”

If you’ve ever unconditionally and honestly professed your love for someone, that love does not die simply because someone has been afflicted with Alzheimer’s. Yes it’s inevitable and unfortunate that the relationship must change, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find new ways to love them.

And sometimes if you spend enough time with them, you might just be treated to a little reminder that the person you once knew is still there for you to love.