Based on: McInnes, W. (2005). Extract from Saying goodbye. In A man’s got to have a hobby:long summers with my dad (pp. 231-246). Sydney : Hodder Australia.
Memories accumulate as we grow older. These memories define us and connect us to our past. Alzheimer’s disease robs us of these memories and we become strangers to our former selves and to the people whom we knew in the past.
When Colin developed Alzheimer’s disease, his wife wanted to care for him in their house and not keep him in a nursing home. As the disease progressively robbed Colin of his memories and his links with those who loved him, their house seemed to shrink because most of their daily activities revolved around his needs. Colin became increasingly suspicious as his memories were slowly extinguished. This made it increasingly distressing for his family.
As people grow older with chronic progressive diseases, there will come a time when there is nothing more to be done, nothing that will make things better. It is then a time of waiting, of waiting for death. This is the time when loved ones struggle with their own emotions and try to find meaning in loss.