Alzheimer’s Sufferers are Human


This morning was a good one; she remembered who I was.

When I tucked my elderly relative safely into her bed last night, as I’ve done every night for the last few years, I did so in the knowledge that she might not remember exactly who I was upon awakening. Alzheimer’s does that. It’s one of the many nasty little tricks this terrible disease plays, as each day it chips relentlessly away at the once-sharp mind of the innocent victim. Thankfully, she still trusts me, still understands I am going to help her. I know this might not always be the case.

Alzheimer’s is much misunderstood by those lucky enough not to have had to deal with it. The disease does not progress in a linear fashion. It affects each sufferer differently. There can be good days and bad. Perhaps most distressingly of all, patients realise that something is very wrong but don’t always understand exactly what it is. They can struggle to articulate what they are feeling. More than once I have witnessed her desperately try to explain a problem to her doctor, only to be frustrated by an inability to effectively describe her symptoms. It must be hell.

I’ve cared for her for several years. At times it is emotionally draining. I make mistakes. I’m sometimes not as patient as I could be. I just do the best I can. Financially it has been devastating. Her care needs are such that I am unable to work full-time. I am, at last, beginning to accept I will never make up these lost years. I do not know what my future holds. This is the reality of long-term care; I am not the only one in this position.

Would I then, given the chance, make the same choice again? Yes, of course. Unequivocally. It is enabling  my much-loved relative to live out her remaining years with a degree of comfort and safety. Her disease has taken a heavy toll, but it hasn’t taken everything. She is still able to experience and enjoy her life. She delights in watching the robins in the garden and the spring daffodils beginning to emerge. In a few short weeks I will take her, as I did last year, to see the new-born lambs taking their first tentative steps in our reawakening world. She is able to talk, able to smile and still able to hoot with laughter at a favourite television programme. She is not, in short, a vegetable.


I’m no fan of online witch-hunts. Nor do I support abhorrent trolling. But I’m even less of a fan of spoiled celebrities who, having been afforded a lucrative career by the industry connections of their wealthy fathers, insinuate that Alzheimer’s sufferers have nothing left to offer. Yes, it’s a good idea for such people to step away from Twitter for a while and spend some time looking after those they so cruelly dismiss as ‘vegetables’. Maybe, who knows, they might even learn something of value.

Matthew Corrigan is a Country Squire Guest Writer and author whose excellent novel OSPREY shines a satirical light on a dodgy politician with a flying wind turbine scam. His books can be found here

2 thoughts on “Alzheimer’s Sufferers are Human

  1. Mr. Corrigan,
    I have enjoyed many of your articles, but none has been as important as this one. Alzheimers victims often require all the skills and resources of the best parent, patience, energy ,intuition, humility, selflessness, love, time, money and hope. But the process is far different. There will be no intellectual growth, no independence, no joy of a mastered skill, no ‘firsts’ – only ‘lasts.’
    My father, a brave and brilliant man, an amazing parent, a Vice Admiral in the US Navy died of Alzheimers. He knew something was very wrong before he became lost in a maze in his own mind. He would confirm things with us that were so simple. He would practice writing his name. He took up ironing because he could do it, though he began preferring bug spray to starch- he liked the big cloud it produced. He lost any sense of time, he clung to my mother, asking where his own was. He was and wasn’t there at once.
    I admire you. You undoubtedly have all the qualities of the best parent. The hope? The hope is not for a wonderful future, but that the future does not include more anxiety or suffering. And ultimately that the future is a memory.
    Mr. Corrigan, you are an exceptional man.

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