Alzheimer’s Stages: Looking Back, Looking Forward

Ann Napoletan
By Ann NapoletanMay 3, 2013

“What if I see you, and I don’t know that you’re
my daughter, and I don’t know that you love me?”
“Then, I’ll tell you that I do, and you’ll believe me.”
— Lisa Genova, Still Alice

In the simplest of terms, Alzheimer’s alters lives. Forever. As I think about what life was like ten years ago, I realize how drastically my world has changed. I’m a completely different person than I was in 2003. Back then I was making my way through life wearing a cloak of naivete where Alzheimer’s and dementia were concerned. Now I realize just how fragile life really is.

Each Beginning Has an Ending

A decade ago, when I heard Alzheimer’s mentioned, I pictured someone in their eighties or nineties with memory problems. Little did I realize how intimately I would come to know the disease or that I’d quickly learn how grossly I had been oversimplifying the issue. When my mom began to show early signs in 2004 at age 68, I had absolutely no idea what was about to hit us.

Mom went to Heaven this past December. Needless to say, as I sit here in 2013, I’m painfully aware of what this disease does to people and to families. Sometimes, I find myself wishing I could have a “do over.” Obviously, if I had known then what I know now, I would have done some things differently, but I have to keep reminding myself that hindsight is 20/20. Sometimes that’s very difficult, but it’s life.

Passion, Positivity, and Purpose

I can’t go back, but I can certainly use the knowledge I’ve gained and the passion I’ve built to help other families and to fight Alzheimer’s with everything I have. It doesn’t make me miss her any less, cry any fewer tears, or erase the images that haunt me, but it’s something positive, and I need that. I need to know that some tiny shred of good came out of the years of horrific suffering Mom had to bear.

How has your Alzheimer’s journey changed you? Are there positive things you can take from the experience? We would love to hear your thoughts on this topic.

Ann Napoletan

Ann Napoletan

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