A visit to my childhood home in Minnesota to see my Mom and Dad recently brings the problems of aging a special emphasis in my life. The photos and memories of family, our big extended family, are so dear for me. I spent these days helping my Mom and Dad and reflecting on this generation that is fading and leaving us so fast. My Mom has had Alzheimer’s for a number of years and my Dad has taken care of her at home until recently. Their brothers and sisters, my aunts and uncles, have, in the main, died and these two dears ones are the last standing, or sitting in the case of my Mom.
They gave us the best of childhoods, protected from problems and left to run barefoot collecting toads and frogs, creating the surefoot club, and watching Disney and Lassie together on Sunday evenings was life for us, the boomers. Most of us had Moms at home, family dinners and numerous neighborhood friends growing up in the suburbs running wild and free with dinner at home every evening. We celebrated every holiday and birthday with our extended family, my Mom’s sisters and brothers who lived close by. That was 24-25 people for dinner with linens and china around the big tables and of course – at the kids’ table- red jello with bananas and fresh whipped cream. Yikes!
I am so thankful for this now and love the photos and linens and the Swedish Coffee pot Mom always used for those family dinners, but it was not always so. As a young woman I could not wait to leave and experience life apart from the protection of this life, I yearned for other cultures and for other places, bored with the security and sameness. The university and travel were a very bid deal to me. So here we are, finding ways to help these leaders who gave us so much and who are not doing so well these days and confronting the fact that our society has somehow misplaced these wonderful days, no longer offering our children carefree childhoods.
The one thing we could do for ourselves is prevent the horrible outcomes memory problems, Alzheimer’s, cause. People afflicted are very hard to care for and this is a problem many more families are facing as the disease is prevalent. Professionals working in the field do not have the answers as to why this disease develops; and of course drugs used to “treat” the problems are not effective. Seems funny to me that anyone who has a loved one who is loosing their mind would think that more toxins are the answer. The ones needing the drugs are the caregivers! Just kidding. My Mom is drug free and she has been since the onset. She does not have outbursts and she does not object to direction and control. Although she does not originate communication very often she can read out loud with her big print books. When you think about it, reading is just copying what you see and requires no original thought. She does tell you with her eyes what is happening and she can respond to pain, her fingers curling on one hand hurt when you try to uncurl them. When I was feeding her lunch last week she was gazing over my shoulder at someone at the next table who was acting up. She looked back at me with this impish expression in her eyes and we started to laugh, really laugh, and we actually had no idea why. Love that. We just laughed. It was good to be together.
If all our sophisticated medical science cannot come up with the reason why the brain becomes “tangled” physically and people with Alzheimer’s just continue to worsen until they forget how to swallow and then forget how to breathe, perhaps toxins and their effects should be considered as a factor. Medical science seldom looks at the effect of all the toxins we are exposed to contributing to disease. They study one or two and never consider the total exposures and what these chemicals could cause when combined. Remember Crisco and boxed cake mixes? Do you read the labels on “manufactured food”? We should all start because this disease takes the cake for creating trouble for everyone who loves you. Real trouble. I shudder to think of those who do not have strong family ties, it is gruesome. Why not take control of our lives and start to pay attention to the things that keep us healthy instead of looking for treatments after the fact. Nutrient dense organic foods could go a long way in helping supply your body with essential nutrients. Avoiding sources of contamination and utilizing chelation therapy to remove heavy metals makes sense to me. I am my mother’s daughter.