For the duration of my adult life, I have only known two adults with Alzheimer's disease (AD). I mean, I've known several people along the way, who went to my church or played bingo where I played, but I've only known two people really well.
Diseases of the mind fascinate me. It's so odd and random and logical and illogical how the mind picks up a bit, omits a bit and re-routes other bits. Its like a bunch of handshakes, some of which go unmet.
The first Alzheimer's victim I really knew was a good friend's mother whom I had known off and on for my entire life. I spent more time with her during her final years, as she was in a nursing home and I don't live far from the home. This dear woman, whom we shall call Mary, spent hour after hour watching traffic in front of the nursing home. She was looking for wrong-doers (people who parked in the lot, got out of their cars, gathered their things, walked through the front doors or left). Oftentimes, when I went to see her, she had her wheelchair perched in front of the glass doors and I would pull up a chair and look for wrong-doers too. Depending on my mood, I'd sometimes humor her and other times go against the grain.
"That woman is getting into that car right there. The brown one." To which I'd respond, "Yes, she is. It's okay though. It seems to be her car." Mary had no response. Sometimes, it was like I wasn't even there as soon as the greeting ended. I'd even fuss with her hair and act like I'd never noticed her bracelet before, but I'd get no response. She'd have that look in her eyes and it was like someone else was driving her personal vehicle.
Sometimes, my mother, my friend, and Mary would be sitting in her room and she would be very animated as she talked about her deceased son, husband, and granddaughter, as though they were still alive. She was also living in her house (and not the nursing home), driving, buying groceries, and functioning
as though it were 20 years ago. Everyone else would just look at one another and let her talk.
The second person I knew with Alzheimer's is my grandmother. Now that she too is in a nursing home, her mind seems to be leaving her via AD. I never really thought much about her having this disease until today. I knew that she had it. I just hadn't thought much about it.