It’s no secret that Alzheimer’s is a terrifying disease. Faces of loved ones become the faces of strangers and there is an overall regression toward childhood.
Several weeks ago, someone in my family attended a talk about Alzheimer’s. One of the stories told was that of an elderly man who didn’t like to shower. The problem came on quite suddenly one day while he was in Alzheimer care. As far as anyone knew, the man had never had any problems showering before. As days continued on, the man continued to fight his shower routine. Of course, all sorts of questions arose! What was causing this sudden change? Staff and doctors worked through a myriad of possible explanations until finally stumbling upon the answer. That elderly man had suffered from childhood sexual abuse. The abuse had taken place in the shower. As his Alzheimer’s progressed, and he regressed, the memories of his abuse came back into focus.
Here is a PSA that illustrates the point perfectly:
With time, staff members were able to ease the man’s fears. Littering the bathroom with images of things he enjoyed (cars), helped create a positive atmosphere. Thanks to an amazing amount of insight, things did improve for this man. There are others, however, who will regress and continue to suffer just as they did when they were children.
Let’s not forget the impact that childhood sexual abuse can have on a life. The pain can, truly, last a lifetime...