I’m doing a project with an Alzheimer’s home, and up until last Monday, that didn’t really phase me at all. And then we visited. And oh gosh.
It. was. so. sad.
Not because there’s anything wrong with the facility, or how they treat the people there, because honestly, they give them probably the best things for them. But these people… it’s not just that they’re old, because that doesn’t bother me. It’s that they can’t remember anything.
And that terrifies the shit out of me.
I’m honestly looking forward to getting old, for the most part (in due time, of course). I want happy wrinkles and grandkids and the ability to take slow short walks with the love of my life. But it’s the prospect of not remembering him – not remembering anyone – that’s just scary as hell.
The house that we’re looking at doesn’t let couples stay together – it’s just the Alzheimer’s-affected spouse. The other one has to stay home. And at that point, maybe they don’t know the difference. Maybe they don’t remember. But… but I want him there. I want him there always.
And then I start thinking about the prospect that some of these people don’t have spouses anymore. And gosh, don’t even let me go there.
And my parents! My parents. I hope, I pray this doesn’t happen to them. It scares me to think I have to choose a “home” for them. Aaaaaaah, I realize that would happen in, like, twenty-five or thirty years, but jeez. So scary. Please stay healthy, Mom and Dad.
Me being the optimist I am, I only look at the positives of growing old, like getting wrinkly forehead kisses and holding hands with my husband for then-fifty years. I don’t see the degenerating bodies – the lack of bladder control, the inability to move, the even-worse-than-I-have-it-now eyesight. I don’t see the memory loss, the suffering, the death. My grandparents’ friends are all starting to die – is that not terrifying? That’s going to be me someday. There’s nothing we can do to stop that.
I guess for now I should just continue seeing the good things in getting older. I should try to keep away from focusing on how the people I saw at the home on Monday can’t remember their kids’ names, or even who they are. I should instead just see how well they’re being taken care of, because they really are well-cared for in this state-of-the-art facility.
Keep thinking about wrinkly forehead kisses, Sarah. You’re going to be an adorable old person someday.