Alzheimer’s is incredibly draining - not only to the person diagnosed with it, but to everyone around them. There’s revolving anxiety - even if Nana seems to know something in one moment, it is often lost the next. There is never a moment quite like the last.
Alz has become such a regular part of our life that we've personified it.
Alz is both a him and her (I am both a him and her to Nana too, so it's no difference to her).
Alz is a bitch. He's sometimes aggressive, very finicky, and it's her way or the highway. She yells or calls me names, says he hates me and swings at me if she thinks she's in danger (more on that here).
He is always an unwelcome intruder in our lives but Nana is underneath it all, so we have to bring her out when Alz rears his ugly head.
How I attempt to bring her out varies, but it always begins with getting her in the present moment again- igniting her senses. Nana's a lover- if she's not aggressive, hugs and kisses do wonders, as do back scratches. Snacks can be a distraction- I keep her favorites handy all the time. Changing the scenery sometimes works. Driving around to "go home" sometimes works too. I just keep trying new distractions and stories (sometimes lies) with her until one sticks and Nana returns.
The best thing about Alz (the neighbor) is that we can talk about her in front of Nana. You see, if you talk about Nana in front of Nana, she knows. Even if she doesn't fully understand, she can sense it. It's uncomfortable, rude, and she can feel like she shouldn't be there with you. I know because I've done it to her.
When I talk about Alz though, I ask Nana if she knows our neighbor, Alz. Sometimes she does, sometimes she doesn't. I tell her he lives too close for comfort and he's not my favorite. I legit want to kick Alz in the balls (thank you @Hilarityforcharity for one of my new favorite hashtags)! I tell my story about what Alz did today, and I include Nana in the conversation- I often ask what she thinks about whatever happened and her response is frequently something like "That's just crazy. If I were you I would have ran away." Well, while I've considered dropping Nana off with Uncle Bill and disappearing from the radar for a long while, I committed to her so on we go!
Alz is always an unwelcome visitor, but we deal the best we can. Did I mention Alz sometimes jumps between Nana and caregivers - I find myself possessed by Alz when I've been around her too much... The forgetfulness and nonsense that comes out of my mouth sometimes makes me question if Alz is contagious or just momentarily possessing me too- such a demon!
Even Nana joins us in saying this sometimes: Get the eff outta here, Alz!