The Last Stage of Alzheimer’s
If you’ve read the 7 Stages of Alzheimers, you realize there are obvious degrees of decline through this disease. Sometimes the decline is exhilarated by a hospital stay, a surgery, a particular medication, anything out of the ordinary. But the normal progression of this disease is to the last stage of Alzheimer’s or, Stage Seven.
Then there is a total disconnect between brain and body. The patient takes to there bed and is unable to function in any way, as though regressed to the stage of a newborn baby without thought to eat or fend for themselves at all. One of Mom’s physicians told me that the memory unwinds in exact reverse to how it was recorded. The newest memories disappear first and then it works it’s way backward.
I certainly saw this in my Mom’s case. She forgot her second husband who had only passed away a few years before. I didn’t even realize it until she was flipping through a photo album and found a picture of the two of them. I was so stunned when she pointed him out and asked me, “Who is this man?” Then she forgot all of his children and grandchildren and that part of her life was gone before she began to forget her natural grandchildren, forgetting the ones whom she hadn’t seen in awhile first. The old saying: “Absence makes the heart grow fonder,” does not hold true with Alzheimers. They always forget the ones who have been absent in their life first. They might remember their name, but if they see them, they don’t know who they are.
Eventually, Mom knew my name, Sandy. When I came to the “Group Home” where she lived, she was happy to see me as the nice lady who visited her, but she had no concept of what the word “daughter” meant. No sooner would I arrive home than my phone would ring with Mom on the line, demanding to speak with her “daughter,” cursing me and complaining that I had abandoned her because I never came to visit. Those incidents are very disturbing and most unbearable for the caregiver and family member. And so it goes– backward through their memories as all memory slowly disappears and they have nothing but confusion before they are finally bedridden, sometimes unable to walk or feed themselves.
Many Alzheimers patients never see this late stage, the end stage of Alzheimers or Dementia. Usually quite elderly by the time this stage is reached, often, other physical symptoms or disease may occur and end their life before Alzheimers takes its toll. Until then, the mind unwinds just as it was wound in the growing years (the most current memories disappearing first and a large eraser working its way backwards through the history of their life. There are no more current events. By the Sixth Stage, no matter what we discussed or where we went or who came to visit her, in the blink of an eye…it never happened.
My mom did not progress to the Seventh Stage but became ill with another disease and passed away during her Sixth Stage of Alzheimers. It was almost a relief to know that she would suffer no more of Alzheimers Indignities.