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‘No one, absolutely no one should face this disease alone’

Victims of Alzheimers disease and related dementias face losing all connections with their relationships, childhood, education, location and health.

“I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know who you are any more.”

Students in Matthew Shehan’s senior drama classes at Prince Edward Collegiate Institute helped primary school students at Queen Elizabeth School in Picton to understand more about Alzheimers disease.

The presentation was a collective creation of original and found skits, poems, tableaus and short stories. This is the third year the show has been created by the students.

“It is a major culminating project highlighting theatre as social action,” said Shehan. “The goal is to raise awareness and understanding” for students who have family members with Alzheimers and related dementias.

Laura Hare and PECI drama students answered questions about Alzheimers and the presentation.

Laura Hare and PECI drama students answered questions about Alzheimers and the presentation.

Alzheimer Society interim executive director Laura Hare is appreciative of the students’ work and of the drama department raising awareness.

“When people act a little strange, the first reaction we have is to run away and get away from something we don’t understand. But what the students are doing today is giving us an education on what the disease is like and how it affects other people.

“The most important message is, one of the phrases from the Alzheimer Society, is that ‘No one, absolutely no one should face this Alzheimer’s disease alone.”

Hare was pleased to answer questions from the students.

Q: What can you do to prevent Alzheimers?
A: “Wear your helmets and protect your head because head injuries is one of the risk factors for Alzheimers. And all the things they say about healthy eating and taking care of your heart are the same sort of things that take care of your head, so stay active, get lots of exercise,  eat all those fruits and vegetables to help keep your brain healthy.
The biggest risk factor is age, so you have a long way to go – one in 10 over the age of 65 – which is a pretty bad number and if you get to 85, it’s one in three. But how can you put it off? Take care of your heart, take care of your head.”

Q: Is there a cure?
A: The anwer is no. There is lots of research. There are medications that help with the symptoms. There is no cure.

Q: What can people say?
A: “Sometimes communication is best from someone who is young or sometimes the one who is old. For someone with Alzheimer’s Disease, their world gets very simple and they live just for the moment. And what families have told us is that the grandchild or the grandparent get along way better than anybody else in the family because you as young folk come in with fewer worries than your mom or dad coming in to see their mom or dad.”

Q: How do you know you have Alzheimers?
A: Memory loss is a common factor.  We all forget where we put our car keys or where we put our coat. It’s a different kind of memory loss. I asked a lady how she knew that this was a serious problem. She said she went to make lunch one day and she wanted a can of soup.  So she opened the cupboard and got the soup. She hadn’t forgotten where the soup was. She opened up the draw and got the can opener out so she knew where that was. But when she got the two of them on the counter together, she didn’t know what to do next. So it’s a different kind of memory, not just forgetting people’s names.
Another one is confusion and trouble with numbers and troubles with words. Looking at this (water bottle) and saying ‘that thing that holds water’ because you can’t remember the word water bottle.

“In the end,” said Hare, it’s a terribly tragic disease and that’s what the students reflected very clearly here  today.”

Some clips from the students’ presentation:

Do not ask me to remember,
Don’t try to make me understand,
Let me rest and know you’re with me,
Kiss my cheek and hold my hand.

I’m confused beyond your concept,
I am sad and sick and lost.
All I know is that I need you
To be with me at all cost.

Do not lose your patience with me,
Do not scold or curse or cry.
I can’t help the way I’m acting,
Can’t be different through I try.

Just remember that I need you,
That the best of me is gone,
Please don’t fail to stand beside me,
Love me ’til my life is done.
-Author Unknown

PECI-Alzheimer-Duncan

“Duncan’s been home from the war for years now. But it’s only just recently that he’s been starting to forget things. One time I came home from grocery shopping and he attacked me. After that we had to put him in a home. My heart is breaking.”

I used to go see my Dad with my kids once a week. Now when I go see him he looks at my children like they’re just regular kids on the street. He doesn’t remember his own grandkids, or his own daughter.

I'm-sorry

I’m sorry. I can’t (enjoy storytime, go to bingo, recognize husband, remember dinner party) I’m sorry.

“Just because I’ve forgotten you, doesn’t mean you have to forget me.”

shoephone2

I’ve been forgetting things a lot lately. I just don’t know why. Sure, everybody forgets something every now and again but, it seems it happens to me more than anyone else. Like this morning, I put salt in my coffee, instead of sugar and I walked out of the house with only one shoe. I don’t know where it was. I couldn’t find it. Oh, hold on. (Answers ‘shoe’ phone).

memory-seminar

I’m looking for my car keys. They couldn’t have gone too far.
And as soon as I find my glasses, I’m sure I will see where they are.
I’m supposed to meet someone for lunch today, but, I can’t remember who, or when
It’s in my organizer… I guess
I might have left that on the counter, or maybe in the car
The last time I remember driving, was to the memory enhancement seminar.

poem

The lady you see is now withered from time
The life trapped inside was once wonderful and sublime
The carefree girl ready for her first date, now seems to wait for death, that comes too late

Her mind wanders, back to earlier times in her life
when she was a loving mother and active wife
Her mind drifts back and forth like waves upon the shore
Memories of loved ones that now wait at heaven’s door.

She tries to make sense of what visitors do and say
They seem like strangers, but they brighten her day

It seems Alzheimers has stolen my mother from me
Now the mother I once knew is just a distant memory

started very slowly

It seemed to start very slowly, with you forgetting little things,
I know that you were worried about what Alzheimer’s brings.

Then gradually things got worse and you got really scared,
I found it hard to deal with but tried to show I cared.

I should have been more patient and tried to understand,
That you were lost and frightened and needed to hold my hand.

I just wanted you back Mum, to how you used to be,
So that you could continue to share your life with me.

Really rather quickly you began to lose your way,
Remembered very little and got worse day by day.

I then made the decision to put you in a home,
I felt I had no option for you could not be left alone.

I am so sorry for doing that, as I know it made you sad.

Things then got quickly worse and you deteriorated fast,
I then began to wonder how much longer you would last.

You don’t know who I am anymore and are unable to talk,
You have now lost your mobility and can no longer walk.

I know that you are going more and more each day,
It is so painful to watch but there is no other way.

I know one day you will leave me and go to a better place,
Then I hope you will be happy and a smile is on your face.

The sadness in your eyes will be sure to disappear,
And I will not completely lose you, for I know that you’ll be near.

Remember that I will always love you, wherever you may be,
And that I have the lovely memories of the time you shared with me. – Katie Harrison

ALZPECTest your knowledge, learn more, get involved. Click here to visit the Prince Edward County Alzheimers Society. 

90 King St., Picton (corner of Paul and King)613-4762085

 

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  1. Lyn says:

    Good for the PECI students. As a caregiver of someone with dementia, it is difficult to explain such a disease to my grandchildren

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