GRAND RAPIDS, Mich — Ginger Sisson is a retired school teacher and librarian. One of her favorite things to do is read but one of her least favorite things is looking for her book.
"It's like, dang, what was I going to come over here for again, that, you know, and so I was gonna go get a book, but I can't even remember that I needed the thing."
Ginger has Alzheimer's.
"It angers me a lot of time, because there's no way to fix it."
Ginger is 80 and now lives with her son and caregiver, Christoph, who has come up with a very unique way of supporting his mother's dementia. He's created a podcast, with Ginger as his sidekick, called Living with Alzheimer's.
Christoph says the purpose is to provide information to other families with Alzheimer's, "It's just been a wide variety of topics that we've covered."
Topics can range from diagnosing dementia, to research, to sharing memories, but one thing always seem to shine through, Ginger's sense of humor. Like when she forgets peoples names, "I had their names, I didn't know which body to paste them on. And then I said the heck with it. Two of these people aren't real smart to begin with. (laughs)"
Ginger actively participates in each podcast which benefits her son Christoph just as much as it does their listeners, "There's still so much of Ginger in that conversation. We laugh, you know, I mean, we have a good time while we're doing the podcast as well."
The podcast takes place at their kitchen table at two in the afternoon. It's the time of day Ginger is most like herself, before her sundowning occurs. It's a condition many Alzheimer's patients have and usually happens in the late afternoon and evening. As the brain gets tired, those suffering from Alzheimer's can get restless and lose their ability to remember.
Christoph recalls one moment that brings him to tears, "There was a day in 2019 where my mom looked at me and said, your name might be Chris. But you're not my Chris. And that was hard. Because she didn't recognize me that day."
It's not easy watching your loved one fade into the darkness of Alzheimer's disease. Even Ginger knows her time is limited, "I have three kids. And they don't see enough of me, I don't think to know how severe it might be."
No one knows how many more podcasts Ginger has before her memory completely fades.
There are currently 5 million people living with dementia in the U.S. and that number is expected to triple to 15 million in the next 40 years.
According Alzheimer's.org some of the early signs of dementia include:
- memory loss.
- difficulty concentrating.
- finding it hard to carry out familiar daily tasks, such as getting confused over the correct change when shopping.
- struggling to follow a conversation or find the right word.
- being confused about time and place.
- mood changes.
13 On Your Side Health Reporter Valerie Lego
Val has been reporting on health and medical stories in West Michigan for 16 years. She is an 18-time Emmy Award Winner. Her health reporting credentials include fellowships from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Association of Health Care Journalists
Contact me: vallego@13OnYourSide.com
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