Saturday 3 December 2016

'Alzheimer's Stole My Mam' - Irish woman's sad, funny and honest account of living with the degenerative disease

Published 20/01/2016 | 12:15

An Irish woman who lost her mother to Alzheimer's disease has penned a 'sometimes sad, sometimes funny' book of anecdotes and tips to help others going through it.

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Ruth Colgan told Independent.ie that her mother began acting oddly after her father's death eight years ago and, at first, the family "thought it was grief".

Her mother was diagnosed with fluid on the brain but they were unsure if that or Alzheimer's was causing her memory loss. She was offered a lumbar puncture procedure which could "leave her worse, make her better or... she could die on the table". She refused the procedure.

Colgan explains that although "it got harder to deal with" as her mother's memory decreased, there are "funny moments" detailed in the book.

"The only way I got through was by laughing at the situation. You're not laughing at the person, just at the situation you're in. People think it's rude to laugh but it gets you through to the next day".

"Little things like... knickers on the Christmas tree... there's a series of little funny stories in the book".

"People who have read it say they were crying one minute and laughing the next".

The book aims to help people by letting them know "they're not alone", along with providing some practical tips along the way, including a chapter on advice around nursing homes and paperwork.

"It's a handbook of tidbits... little things you can do to help yourself get through it. Stuff that people don't really tell you".

Colgan told Independent.ie that she wrote "the book as a form of therapy" to deal with "losing my best friend".

"I was with her every day... as much as it was tiring, it was rewarding. We laughed, we cried... by the end, she had no idea who I was. She thought my daughter, who was nine at the time, was me".

"Yes, it's heartbreaking to watch someone you love turn into someone you don't know".

"I went to the doctor because I got a bit depressed during this time... and they told me it's normal, that you grieve for the person you knew".

"I was grieving for my Mam - she wasn't gone, but the woman I knew was... she didn't know me or even who she was".

'Alzheimer's Stole My Mam' is available on Kindle and you can order it here

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