The Alzheimer's Project: The Fence

This series cannot be missed. One of my favorites is The Fence (starting at the 14 minute 19 second mark) about a mother with Alzheimer's and the daughter who cares for her full-time. Josephine Mickow live on a farm in Minnesota and were helped by neighbors to build a fence around the property. Josephine spends her days wandering around, examining flowers and grass, and fiddling with the gates. She doesn't speak much but makes a kind of humming sound all day. Once a talented painter, she now makes vignettes with household objects for her daughter to find. For me, this video shows how present a person with Alzheimer's can be if you pay enough attention. It's not something that can be seen in a few moments or hours. You must spend days and months with someone to see glimpes of their former selves. I've experienced it myself and found It is incredibly rewarding.

At the same time, caregiving for an elderly person with Alzheimer's is financially, physically and emotionally taxing. The daughter has to quit her job in the city to care for her mom full time. She is clearly exhausted by wranging a full-grown human with the curiousity of a toddler. You can also see how devoted she is to caring for her mother- a kind of motherhood she never expected. There is a tenderness between them that is beautiful to see. I'm mystified by adults who consider being cared for in this way by their children to be a burden. Maybe it's a gift to care for a parent in their last years. Maybe it is less about being burdened by duty and more about gratitude for life itself. Maybe it's worth finding out.

A note about this video: it appears that this video is split into sections that run consecutively. You may need to fast foward to the end of the firt video. This chapter is taken from the second video and begins at the 14 minute 19 second mark.