Agnes Norris loves to have someone to talk to. The only problem
is most of the time she doesn't know who the visitor is or what
they are saying. That's because Agnes has Alzheimer's Disease.
Alzheimer's isn't only tough on Agnes, but also on her caring
family. Her son Eric says his own mother doesn't even recognize
"I know deep down inside she knows who I am but her mind
won't let her. I believe she senses some familiarity but not
enough to recognize who I am," says Eric.
About three years ago, Agnes was diagnosed with Alzheimer's.
Unfortunately many people around her, were forced to experience
the slow process of the brain's deterioration. At first many
of her loved ones began to notice Agnes forgetting names. She
was unable to put the correct name to the face. This did not
really mean much to them in the beginning. The reality that those
were the first stages of the disease progressing did not yet
As time passed on, Agnes seemed to have some repetition of
words and phrases. Eventually she was unable to speak full complete
sentences. Soon a reality set in that her family was losing a
part of the old woman that they loved and cared for so much.
Beverly Norris, daughter in law of Agnes, can really notice the
change in Agnes.
"I can always notice some little things changing with
Agnes. Certain days she would go upstairs and change her clothes
for no reason. I am only now starting to realize that we are
losing a person that means so much to us as a family."
Alzheimer's disease, is a progressive degenerative disease
of the brain. This dreadful disease was first described by the
German neuropathologist Alois Alzheimer, in 1906. This disease
affects more than 10 000 people in Canada, according to a survey
done in 1991. It is the forth leading cause of death, behind
heart disease, cancer and stroke. There is no medical treatment
to stop the progression of the disease. Unless a cure is soon
found for the disease, it is estimated that the number of people
who have Alzheimer's may reach 14 million in the next century.
The average life expectancy of people with the disease is between
five and ten years, although many patients now survive 15 years
or more due to improvements in care and medical treatment.
An Alzheimer's patient goes through many stages to the progression
of the disease. In the beginning stages, the person finds it
difficult to recall recent events, even words spoken moments
before. Eventually, the confusion will set in. Home and family
members may seem unfamiliar. Eric can also notice some changes
in his mother all of the time.
"It's extremely difficult to watch someone so close to
me just fade away like the wind," says Eric, " It really
hurts deep down inside."
When the disease progresses far enough, the person no longer
recognizes family and friends. Unable to self-fulfill the most
basic needs of living, the person becomes totally dependent on
To watch somebody so close to you change from an independent,
out going person, to a person that cannot communicate, understand
or even remember can be devastating to a family. All of Eric's
life he has always felt comfort and happiness when he saw the
beautiful smile that never left his mother's face. Even to this
day, with her mind in a state of confusion, her warm, glowing
smile still lights up a room. Although it may be too late for
Agnes, increased funding for Alzheimer's research may prevent
others from suffering the same pain, that she and her family
had to go through together.
Here is a poem that really means a lot to me. It will always
remind me of my Grandmother, and the good times that we spent