Friday Notes #65 — Throwing Out Someone’s History

Coping with Alzheimer’s side effects.

Friday Notes #65 — Throwing Out Someone’s History
Photo by Danie Franco on Unsplash

My wife’s aunt, an 80 years old woman with Alzheimer, recently moved from her apartment to a specialized home for people with cognitive loss. I can’t tell which Alzheimer's degree she is at. She can still recognize most of us, but she has no clue about time and space. It is a debilitating condition. The disease is slowly and relentlessly crawling over her.

Her apartment is, in general, in mediocre condition. We told her the owner had to renovate her apartment to convince her to move somewhere else. She didn’t want to. So now, we must clean up her apartment before returning the keys. It’s a daunting task, still in progress, which started last weekend and will continue this weekend.

This woman had another mental disease called “syllogomany”:

“Compulsive hoarding, also known as hoarding disorder, is a clinically recognized mental health condition (ICD-11, 2018). The disorder is characterized by accumulation of possessions due to excessive acquisition of or difficulty discarding possessions, regardless of their actual value.”

She used to “collect” recyclable objects and all sorts of papers. Her apartment is full of those, yet everything is well dissimulated. We’re still in the middle of this cleanup. So far, the equivalent of five big recycling bins have been packed, and the equivalent of twenty big orange trash bags were filled.

While cleaning up her apartment, opening closets, boxes and desk drawers, I took some time to read some papers to see what they were all about: past years' taxes reports, correspondence, paid invoices, dating back as far as 25 fives years ago. I realized that I was looking at someone’s past life artifacts. When I think about this, we were actually throwing someone’s history into the garbage. My wife’s aunt will never know that we are behind her to clean up her mess. She will never know that we are, in many ways, throwing out most of her history. It’s hard to cope with because, at the same time, she keeps losing her memory. She is losing her essence, what makes her, her.

What did I learn this week: syllogomany disorder is compulsive hoarding of useless objects. We may all have, to some degree, this condition.