Jul 29, 2012

What if Ed Never Had Alzheimer’s?

Ed Was More Contented with Alzheimer’s Disease: What If He Hadn’t Gotten It?

He was angry and depressed. He drank to excess – starting at noon and continuing all day and half the night.

By Marie Marley
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I’m writing to tell you about a most unusual person with Alzheimer’s.

You’re going to think I’m crazy. You really are.

But to tell you the complete truth I have to tell you that Ed was far more contented when he developed Alzheimer’s than he ever was before. Yes, this is true.

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Ed, my beloved Romanian soul mate, was in his late 80s when he began becoming demented. He knew something was wrong. He was endlessly frustrated and afraid of his early symptoms. What’s more, he spent a lot of time thinking about death.

He was angry and depressed. He drank to excess – starting at noon and continuing all day and half the night. He drank vodka, and he didn’t drink it from shot glasses. He filled a regular water glass half full every time he wanted a drink. And he wanted a lot of drinks.

He stayed up until 3:00 in the morning and he slept until noon. Then as soon as he got up he started drinking again. Was he an alcoholic? No. He just drank a lot.

I couldn’t take care of him at a certain point and we fought constantly about him going to a nursing home. He said he’d die first. But eventually he became so demented he forgot his opposition to the idea and finally agreed.

Once at the nursing home he had to stop drinking. They wouldn’t let him have any alcohol. He was furious, as you might imagine, but shortly after that he forgot all about alcohol and never asked for another drink.

He was still depressed, however, and so his doctor put him on an antidepressant. Within a few weeks he was a new man. He became the sweet, loving and loveable man I’d known years before. He became tremendously contented.

He loved the staff and thanked them repeatedly when they did anything for him. And I mean anything. When the cleaning lady came in to empty his trash basket he thanked her over and over. Then he kissed her hand and told her how beautiful she was and how lucky he was to have her help.
He was also contented with his financial situation.

He once told me confidentially that the American government was paying for his nursing home stay! I just let him continue thinking that.

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His depression soon went away and he became a joy to be with. Everyone at the nursing home just loved him to death and he loved them as much. Once one of the young girls who worked in the kitchen asked him, “Where were you when I was looking for a husband?” He and I laughed a lot about that question.

He no longer worried about death because he didn’t have the capacity to think about the future. And he didn’t stew over any unpleasant things that happened to him because he forgot them all very promptly.

Before he moved to the nursing home he was extremely verbally aggressive with me and I didn’t know how much longer I could take it. But after he’d been there awhile our love blossomed and returned to the state it was when we’d first met 30 years earlier. He was a true joy for me, and he himself was very contented – much more so than I’d ever seen him. He knew and experienced joy even on the last day of his life.

What if Ed never had Alzheimer’s?

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Marie Marley, PhD, is a professional medical grant writer who, over the years, acquired a keen understanding of many geriatric topics, including dementia. . In Come Back Early Today: A Memoir of Love, Alzheimer's and Joy she describes her remarkable 30-year relationship with Edward Theodoru, PhD, a delightfully colorful yet wickedly eccentric Romanian gentleman - the love of her life. Learn more about their story at Come Back Early Today.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room