By: Michelle Remold
There is question that seems to be following me around the last few weeks and I am asked it almost every day. Most questions I am asked I am able to answer and, if not, I can look around and find the answer. This question however is not one that I am able to answer and there is no right or wrong to the question. The question I have been asked is, “What is normal?” This question wasn’t in reference to Alzheimer’s or dementia, but rather to life in general. By definition, normal is “the usual or typical state or condition.” The problem with normal is that it is different for everyone, especially for those who have Alzheimer’s or dementia and their families.
For a while now, my ‘normal’ has been working, taking classes, and doing homework. While my ‘normal’ differs at times, it is typically fairly consistent day-to-day. My ‘normal’ though is not the normal of my parents or brother. We all have what we consider to be normal and have all established routines to help with keeping things ‘normal’.
We can count on our ‘normal’ changing as we age, but there are some things we just don’t think of as being a part of our ‘normal’ down the road. Alzheimer’s and dementia are something that we don’t usually foresee as being a part of our ‘normal’ at any point in life. Then again, Alzheimer’s and dementia are not a “normal” part of aging.
After a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia, I think it can be easy to look back and think about how things will never be ‘normal’ again. The thing I think that needs to be looked at though is that a new ‘normal’ will be created. It may not always be made up of butterflies and rainbows, but whose ‘normal’ is like that anyway? What is important is to smile, laugh, cry, and enjoy the moments that matter. Try to embrace the new ‘normal’ as it comes. One day you might look back on it and wonder what you would have done without it.
Michelle graduated from the University of Northern Iowa with her Bachelor of Arts in Gerontology: Social Sciences and a minor in Family Studies. She is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Aging Studies and Nursing Home Administration from Minnesota State University Mankato.