Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Alzheimer's Grace and love

Ron and Pat Carmichael
          Last fall, my assignments included spending some time with two couples who were confronting Alzheimer's disease. Ron and Pat Carmichael and Harry and Marianne Mitchell.

Harry and Marianne Mitchell
          When covering this there always seems to be a certain level of profundity to the experience, largely based on the way that a spouse is handling the illness of their beloved mate, while making a statement about lifetime love through their actions. 

           Ron spends time helping his wife, Pat with tasks at home that she sometimes needs a bit of extra dexterity, lovingly brushing her hair or engaging in a favorite activity, assembling a puzzle, which also gives Pat's mind a workout.

          With the Mitchells it's a bit different as Marianne now lives in an assisted care center.

          Just after completing my time with the couple on their Saturday routine I posted this to my friends on Facebook, careful not to include names as the piece hadn't been published yet.

          "Just spent time with a couple where the wife has Alzheimer's and they were spending the day out away from the care center. Even though the wife' conversation doesn't make sense anymore, I witnessed amazing perspective into the wisdom of how he handles it in happily engaging her, not dwelling on the sad part of the situation, but asking questions, responding positively regardless.
         "He said for her it is not so much about what is said, but the engagement that creates a "feeling" about exchange. As a result his high school sweetheart takes that visit, that FEELING, into the week and is happy."
Getting ready to go out.
Ron organizes his and his wife Pat's medications for the week.
Pat works on her memory, studying family faces in preparation for a family reunion.
Exercising the mind, working on a puzzle.

The Mitchells', a day out.