The following was received by Mony De Leon at NYU, and forwarded to the Alzheimer’s Association. Please take this powerful call to action to heart.
I would like to dedicate this in honor of my Beloved Mother, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, who passed away April 22, 2006. Just exactly how many people are familiar with this horrible disease? Some may say they have never heard of it. Others may say it’s “hardening of the arteries.” Some may even say it’s just old age “creeping in.” But, the real truth of the matter is, it’s the most debilitating, demoralizing, destructive, and devastating disease within existence.
Does anyone really know what a person with this disease goes through? How they spend their hours, their days, their nights, their very existence? Just once, we should try and view the world through their eyes. Just once, we should walk the path they walk. And just once, we should be told we can no longer live on our own. That we are incapable of taking proper care of ourselves.
The trouble is everyone is too busy and too caught up in their own daily lives to feel the pain, the anguish, the fears and tears of a person with this disease. “There but by the Grace of God go I.” Please take a moment to just think about it, as this world they now exist in is very confusing,
dark, lonely, and at times almost completely void of reality as we know it. To a person with this disease the world can be a pretty frightening place. A clouded, distorted view of life free of warmth, free of past comforts, and even at times free of love because of lack of understanding.
What have we brought into this world? Nothing! What can we take out of this world when we leave it? Nothing! Just once try to put yourselves in their place. Try once to experience first hand the frustration, the emptiness, and the heartache that fills their day each and every day.
When was the last time you had to have someone feed you, or the last time you had to have someone dress you, or bathe you, or comb your hair, or for that matter, brush your teeth? This is merely the beginning as the real heartbreaker is when they can no longer walk or talk, or even swallow their food. Sound horrifying? It is! Once again, “There but by the Grace of God go I.”
Please try and think long and hard. Please try thinking with your hearts and not your schedules. Please try to take out one hour a week, one hour every two weeks, or possibly just one hour a month. Go and visit a facility where residents with Alzheimer’s Disease reside. There is no cost….it’s free. The only thing it may possibly cost you is a smile, a hug, or a reassuring pat on the shoulder. Perhaps just a listening ear, or a tender loving and caring heart. The rewards reaped will be monumental.
Remember 911? Who could ever forget? But, as the days passed, people seemed to do exactly that. We all returned to our old lives, our old ways of living and our busy schedules. Please don’t let this happen here. The time is here and now. Please give of yourselves, your understanding, your love, your time, and put a smile back upon one face, put back a song within one heart and maybe even wipe away one tear or two from a pair of tired eyes. You will be so very much the richer. But most of all, you will fill someone else’s life with warmth and make a difference in someone’s life that otherwise was quite cold and empty.
Diane L. Christopher