I’ve seen snow this year, but not in Cobb County

snow this morning in Albany NYSnow this morning in Albany NY (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

I’m not a big fan of snow, but I do like to see it about once per year. This morning I woke to a steady dusting of snow, but not back at home in Cobb County.

The ground here is too warm for heavy accumulation, even 1,000 miles north of metro Atlanta, but it does give the surrounding houses a Christmas postcard look.

I’m in Albany, New York, but not under pleasant circumstances.

A family member who lives alone here in Albany developed early onset Alzheimer’s disease.

We were first alerted there was a problem with his memory last June, but the situation recently deteriorated so rapidly that I had to directly intervene.

Alzheimer’s disease is terrible no matter who gets it, but it’s particularly heart-breaking to watch someone 12 years younger than I, who I always thought of as a “young guy,” lose the ability to form sentences, pay his bills, and do simple household tasks.

It’s also sobering to realize that with current medical technology the disease is irreversible. There are promising treatments under development, but for now, the treatments are limited, and according to the neurologist have significant side effects.

When it became evident that it was no longer safe for him to live alone, I flew up here on an emergency basis.

Three weeks ago when I came here, he didn’t yet have a diagnosis. His MRI was a week away, and an appointment for a neurologist two weeks after that.

I was put in quarantine on arrival. Since Georgia is a high community transmission state for COVID-19, anyone flying in from Georgia is put in quarantine, so I had to stay in his house until a few days after the MRI, so a friend of his drove him to the appointment, and from then it was a two-week wait.

Yesterday we saw the neurologist.

He showed us the scan, which showed gaps in the brain in two place. The neurologist described them as the memory area, and the part of the brain that processes speech.

And while it was no surprise to me, the diagnosis is that he has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease.

At this point there are a lot of decisions to make, but many of them are on hold until we meet with a family law attorney to work out the usual details prior to arranging the care: power of attorney, medical proxy, overall financial structure, etc.

The first thought my wife and I had was the best solution would be to move him to an assisted living facility near us so we could visit most days.

But he’s lived in his house a long time, and seems resistant to the idea of moving from Albany. So the next question is whether he could continue living at home with adequate in-home support, at least until the disease progresses further.

He’s still able to feed, dress and bath himself, so the intensity of care given in a nursing home probably isn’t necessary yet. He needs help with housework, shopping, paying bills, recognizing household maintenance problems and taking care of them, and someone to monitor and make sure he doesn’t wander away from home and get lost.

But the headline and lede on this article were about the snow.

The snowfall was pretty intense when I opened the kitchen blinds and first noticed it this morning, but the ground is warm enough that the accumulation was limited.

At this point the outside temperature is 35 degrees F, and the snowfall has slowed, so my guess is that around noon there will only be patches of snow in the shade, unless the snow picks up again.

I’m not a creative writer, or essayist, so I’m not going to try to put together a florid metaphor using the snow and the reason I’m here. That’s for the poets.

But the snow was sort of a nice touch on the beginning of a day that has more stressful decisions in store.

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