“She’s Still Here”: Why One Daughter Sees Alzheimer’s Differently

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Conversations about Alzheimer’s often focus on the ways patients have “left” their bodies, or become “an empty shell” of what they once were. But Marilyn Raichle, whose mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2005, sees things differently.

Just a few months after putting her mother into assisted living, her caregivers discovered she had an amazing talent that had never before surfaced: watercolor painting. According to Marilyn, “Mom had never painted a day in her life before she began painting water colors […] the age of 89. We were astonished to discover that when she forgot to tell herself that she didn’t and wouldn’t paint, she was really very talented.”

Ever since this discovery, rather than give into the disheartened, sorrowful rhetoric that often defines the Alzheimer’s experience, Marilyn chooses to focus on the ways that her mother is still here and capable of surprising her every day.

“She lives entirely in the now—where every moment is clear and precious and lived as it comes—where everything is, to use her words, ‘just delightful.'”

Learn more about Marilyn’s positive outlook and her mother’s amazing artwork in the video, and check out Marilyn’s blog, The Art of Alzheimer’s: How Mother Forgot Nearly Everything and Started to Paint.

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G. H. was raised in Minnesota, but currently calls Seattle her home. She's a blogger, editor, and journalist, and she's written everything from news reports to restaurant reviews. If she's not putting pen to paper, G. H. is probably experimenting in the kitchen, chilling out on her yoga mat, or running through a city park.