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Alzheimer’s — A Part Of The Plot?

Alzheimer’s — A Part Of The Plot?

By: Michelle Remold

One of my hobbies is collecting quotes. I started this hobby in college as a way to pass the time, but now I have a book to write quotes in that I hear or read. There are a few quotes that have stayed with me, however there is a quote by Ashleigh Brilliant that became one of my favorites because I liked the humor related to it, but I have also learned the truth behind it as well. The quote I am referring to is, “My life has a superb cast, but I can’t figure out the plot.”

This was one of the first quotes I wrote in my book. Being in college, a humorous side to this quote stuck out to me, in fact it still makes me smile. I remember thinking about people I met in college and trying to figure out how they might play a role in my life later on. Truthfully, outside of the group that helped me present my Memory Trunk program in nursing facilities and adult day centers and a few other friends, I still don’t have an answer for the roles everyone else has in my life. If nothing else, they helped make me the person I am today.

When I read the quote now though, it seems to have a different maybe deeper meaning. There are some people who have been in my life that have impacted it greatly. As I have written about before, my grandpa had Alzheimer’s when I was growing up and is really the reason I even became interested in the gerontology field. I have had many great-aunts and uncles who have taught me numerous things and a great-grandma who lived to be 97, who helped me realize it’s the small things in life that make it enjoyable, like sausage pizza. My life was also touched by dementia a second time with my dad’s mom, which taught me that though you may know something, you can always learn more.

In a way this quote also makes me think of Alzheimer’s. Alzheimer’s affects and touches everyone differently, including caregivers. I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t wonder why or what was supposed to come as a result of the disease both times it touched my life. The fact is that I did wonder this. My grandpa’s diagnosis led me to what I would eventually choose as a career. I don’t know what direction my grandma’s dementia will take me in yet and I have realized that that is okay.

I have learned that sometimes life isn’t meant to be figured out. Sometimes you just have to let the plot roll out in front of you. It sounds weird to say, but in my life Alzheimer’s has almost ended up being a blessing in disguise. It has taught me many life lessons and has brought me closer to family. It has taught me how to leave my reality and enter a completely different one. It has taught me patience, compassion, when to just not say anything, and the value of just listening.

Honestly, I do think my life has a superb cast of friends, family, cousins, coworkers, grandparents and mentors. I wouldn’t trade any of them. Another part of that cast who isn’t always welcome, is Alzheimer’s. I don’t doubt that my life will be impacted again by Alzheimer’s and that it will happen in a variety of ways. One thing I know though, is that I will learn from it, that somehow it will play a role in the overall plot of my life and that I will have my superb cast right there with me. After all, I just want to enjoy life while I can and help as many people as I can while I am here.

 

??????????????????????????????? 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 Geriatric Social Work from Minnesota State University Mankato.

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Making Connections

By: Michelle Remold

As I sit down to write this blog, I can’t help but reflect on the previous week and how important it is to be able to make and have connections. I am not just thinking about connections on a professional level, but on a personal level as well, especially when it comes to Alzheimer’s or another dementia. This is something that has started to become increasingly apparent to me.

Professionally, I am learning that having connections is important and can help you to accomplish tasks that appear to be difficult to complete. When I think about personal connections, I realize that they are very important as well. When you think about friends, chances are you became friends based on a commonality, a connection. It might be reading books, going to museums, a common interest in a subject area, or something like Alzheimer’s or dementia.

Each of us has had a different role in the lives of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. I have only seen it from the point of view of a grandchild. My mom has seen it from a child’s point of view and my grandma experienced it from a spouse’s perspective. While I don’t know exactly what my grandma or mom have gone through, it’s easier for me to understand their view points on what they experienced. When it comes to having a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, having connections that understand what someone is going through can be important. Having someone you can talk to who understands what you are experiencing can be helpful and therapeutic. Making various connections with people is important. It gives you someone to bounce ideas off of, share stories and laugh with, or talk to about frustrations and stressors.

I think that being able to talk about things and having someone who can in some way relate is important. When my grandpa was first diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, not many people seemed to know much about Alzheimer’s and I remember spending a lot of time explaining the disease to friends. Other kids never seemed to talk about grandparents with Alzheimer’s or dementia, but for me it always was a topic for research papers and presentations. Now I see the value in having someone to talk to who understands and I am more than willing to lend a listening ear to anyone who needs it. No one is alone when it comes to Alzheimer’s and dementia, we just need to share stories, memories, tips, and most of all, make connections with each other.

???????????????????????????????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.

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