We’ve all heard stories and seen movies about how heartbreaking Alzheimer’s disease is, how it takes your loved ones and changes them into people you don’t even recognize (or who don’t recognize you).
But the above video, shot by 39-year-old Brad Swientoniowski about his father, Daniel, illustrates that Alzheimer’s is so much more than just misplacing an item or forgetting a name.
“[He] just wanders around the house constantly doing things like this,” reads the video’s description. “He does not deserve to spend his retirement like this.”
The video shows Daniel doing bizarre things in his home, from picking through the cat litter with his hands, ripping up newspaper for no apparent reason, and applying hand soap as if it’s lotion. Around two years ago, Swientoniowski willingly became his father’s primary caregiver, and it is a constant struggle for Brad to even keep up with him.
“There’s a stigma with Alzheimer’s,” Swientoniowski said to Today.com. “It’s almost become synonymous with just memory loss. It doesn’t give an accurate picture of what the disease really is. It’s a punch in the face to me. I wasn’t ready for what this really is.”
“It’s mostly about dignity,” Swientoniowski added. “Alzheimer’s just kind of turns its victims into a husk, just an organism that just kind of drools, that needs to be fed. They wet themselves. It’s no way to live your last years.”
There has been an outpouring of support since Swientoniowski posted the approximately 12-minute video — the sorrow and heartache is being experienced by millions of people around the world. Others, however, don’t have a clue about the effects of the disease.
“I got one or two people who replied to it and said, ‘I had no idea that this is what it’s like,’ he said. “And with that, I got exactly what I was hoping for.”
Swientoniowski emphasized that he’s not looking for money and would prefer that people help others affected by the disease instead.
“If there are caregivers out there that need a little break, just offer to stay with someone for a day, and give their caretakers a break,” he said. “Maybe raise a little more awareness about the disease. That would be a positive.”