The 2004 film rendition of Nicholas Sparks’ The Notebook made miracles seem possible. Two lovers, one bound by Alzheimer’s, found each other again after reliving the past. The memories of an unparalleled relationship were enough to return a disease-ravaged mind to the present and restore all that had been lost. We ate up the over the top sentiments, believing that if we had just written down our loved one’s life story, he too would return to us. However, the truth, as demonstrated by Sandra Day O’Connor and her husband, is much different.
Love does often appear in the throes of Alzheimer’s, but it is rarely for the ones that were loved before. The disease eats away at memories, erasing from the sufferer’s mind the faces, events and feelings that fill the forgotten people. Yet the need for emotional connections remains. Patients look to those who are closest to them – the individuals who fill the ward of their nursing home. New love blossoms, and family members are forced to realize that their place in a heart has been taken. If they can, they put aside their hurt for the happiness of one. But, what does this do to them?
With all ailments, we tend to focus on the individual with the medical condition, ignoring the others that are affected. We forget that a disease’s reach is not bound by the body, and in doing so, we risk the health of millions. You must remember to take care of yourself even if you are not the one who is directly afflicted. Tend to your physical and psychological needs. Maintain your wellbeing; it is the only way for you to maintain theirs.