Listen to the recording on assisted living and senior care centers, and read along with the conversation. Review the key vocabulary and the sample sentences.
Hi. Today, I want to talk about my mom, Alzheimer’s disease, and the special care that is sometimes available for such individuals. Now, I love my mom very much, and she is a wonderful woman. She was born in Texas, worked as a teacher for many years, and later with my dad, helped build an orphanage for children in Honduras, which is in Central America. And my parents were very committed to caring for the poorest of the poor, both physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Now, my mom has Alzheimer’s disease which is a progressive brain disorder that destroys the memory and cognitive abilities, or thinking skills, of people. For years, I had been aware of this disease, but I always saw it at a distance; it was something that affected other people, but it didn’t touch my life personally. Now, that’s different, and I rub shoulders with it every day. My mom has been suffering from this disease for the past few years, and on top of that, she also has Parkinson’s disease, another neurological disorder. Just having one of these is very difficult; having both of them is devastating, and watching a friend or family member slowly drifting away, no longer being able to carry on conversations or even remember who you are, can be very difficult.
Right now, my mom lives in a special care center that meets the needs of residents who suffer from such medical conditions. She needs assistance in about every aspect of her life, and the CNAs, or certified nursing assistants, help her get dressed in the morning since she can’t do that on her own. My father spends most of his day there, so he usually feeds her. Her appetite has diminished over time, and she no longer can feed herself.
Several times a week, a woman comes to bathe her. They often offer activities at the center where she is during the day and evening, and these include singing time, exercise, and even short excursions in the local area. Although my mom isn’t able to participate in these like she did in the past, she still enjoys the simple things: holding hands, watching some TV shows, and taking short walks outside . . . well, my pushing her in a wheelchair. She used to be able to walk on her own, but she isn’t able to walk without assistance now.
My conversations with my mom are very short. Always in the here and now. She can’t remember what she ate ten minutes ago, nor can she talk about things that happened years ago. In other words, she doesn’t have any real long-term or short-term memory . . . at least nothing that I can recognize. Now, I long to have meaningful conversations with my mom, but I’m just happy when she responds to my voice in any small way, like saying “Thank you” or “Hello.”
And while I can’t see and predict the future, I can only know that if we can live each day as if it were our last, someday we’ll certainly be right, and thus, I try to live each day to the best I can, seeking to show love and compassion to all I meet. And if we all can try to lighten the burdens of one another—with a smile, a touch, and a kind word—oh, how wonderful this world could be.