If one had to pick a holiday to associate with Alzheimer’s, it would definitely be April Fool’s Day.
Our loved ones with early to middle-stage Alzheimer’s often appear so normal, just how they’ve always looked to us. (During the latter stages of Alzheimer’s, the physical symptoms of the disease tend to be more readily apparent.) But then they open their mouth, or don’t respond to their name, or don’t recognize that you are their loved one, and it is like the cruelest April Fool’s joke in the world.
If only our loved ones were pulling off such a prank, and could snap back into their old selves while laughing and shouting, “April Fool’s!”
As I’m reading the wonderful stories in the upcoming “Chicken Soup for the Soul Living with Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias” book, I found two Alzheimer’s-related behaviors that fascinate me. One relates to April Fool’s in that humor can still be found in the Alzeimer’s experience. Often it is unexpected or unintentional humor, but it is there if you seek it out. The other is the way the disease works on the brain and how people with even mid- to latter-stage Alzheimer’s can sometimes have a lucid moment. Time and time again, people described how it was like a veil was lifted, or the fog dissipated, albeit temporarily. I remember experiencing this with my father, and what precious moments those were for me.
But then Alzheimer’s would cry, “April Fool’s” and my dad’s mind would be lost in the fog of dementia once again.