Alzheimer’s and living in the moment

I imagine my mother’s diseased brain like a dusty movie projector. It seems most of the time the projector is motionless while she’s passively absorbing her environment, but when spoken to, she can occasionally command the projector to play a short scene.

When I visit with her, after catching her up on the latest news, I talk about old times. I dig into the archives from 20 years ago, because those are the movie reels that haven’t been fully destroyed. So yes, there is a strong component of the past in our visits.

More prominently, though, I’ve come to realize there is an even larger element of the present in our interactions. It is all happening in the here and now. What happened two minutes ago will be promptly forgotten. 

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We were having a good time one Sunday. Olivia and I were entertaining her with stories and she seemed to enjoy our chatter and presence. 

It brought her some vitality. She even reacted appropriately to the anecdotes, laughing at all the right parts.

She won’t remember this after we leave, I thought sadly. That’s too bad. 

Her mind will revert a blank screen. There is no past, no future in there. It’s just the present.

Then I realized it’s a Buddhist and a yogic lesson on living in the now: She enjoyed our 45-minute visit, which seems to be her limit before getting tired. 

We made her happy this morning. We gave her joy, but in the absence of that, we do not give her sadness. 

She has no suffering because she lives in the moment. She has no expectation of the future, no attachment to the past. It is I who suffers with my expectations and attachments. 

When I see her next week, I will bring her the gift of laughter, and I will try to let that be enough for me. I will try to do a better job of living in the present.

Diane Ako

Peace of mind By Diane Ako I like to reflect on life. Sometimes it’s philosophically. Sometimes it’s humorously. For all its beauty, life is far too difficult a journey to take alone. You need the support and connection with others to help carry you along the way. Writing brings me that connection– within and without. It clarifies my thoughts and feelings. It helps me reach out to others for advice, wisdom, or feedback. Your thoughts become your actions. Your actions become you. A wise yogi- Patanjali- said, “Speak what is true. Speak what is pleasant.” Let’s speak of things pleasant to one another and seek some peace of mind along the way. ABOUT Diane Ako joined Hawaii: In Real Life in October 2016. She likes being part of a community of local bloggers – people who like writing and sharing, like she does. Ako is an anchor/ reporter at Island News (KITV4 – ABC) in Honolulu. She previously anchored and reported at KHON2 (FOX) and KHNL (NBC), and at stations in California, New Mexico, and Pennsylvania, In between news jobs, in 2017, she launched and ran her own p.r. company, Diane Ako PR. From 2010-2014, she headed the public relations department at Halekulani Corporation, which oversees luxury resort Halekulani and boutique hotel Waikiki Parc. She’s been blogging since 2009 – before Hawaii: IRL, she wrote for The Honolulu Star-Advertiser, the state’s largest daily newspaper, where her stories garnered a dozen journalism awards and an Emmy nomination. Ako has a BA in Communications from Menlo College and an MA in Political Science from University of Hawaii at Manoa. One day, she might figure out how to put that master’s degree to use.

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