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Saturday, July 29, 2017

Dementia


Dementia

Dementia is a horrible disease.  It comes on slowly and only gets worse.  In the very beginning it can almost seem humorous but it always ends badly. 

There are several stages to dementia. 

The first stage is a bit comical, and people joke about simple early forgetfulness.  In the second stage the person becomes angry; angry at themselves, angry at the disease, angry at others to cover up what they do not want to admit.  In the third stage the person is clearly afraid, I can only imagine waking up every day and not knowing where you are, who all these people are, and in fact, who you are!  The final stage seems to be just going through the motions without even enough cognition to care or be afraid.

For those who love the afflicted person, the final stage is almost a relief.

Years ago, when my mom was showing signs of dementia it was not clear if she was forgetful, or it was just the start of things to come.  Mom loved her ice cream, and sometimes would have seconds where we did not know if she was just still hungry, or she had not remembered she just had desert.  At the time this was comical.

Some of the signs could be infuriating.  Mom lived alone and was, rightfully so, always concerned that the house was secure before she turned in for the night.  Due to her forgetfulness, she made the “rounds” several times.  When we visited, this could be an issue.

At the time I was a smoker, and I did not want mom to know I still smoked…over 50-years-old and still did not want to worry or upset my mom…anyway, I would sneak outside at night to light up a last smoke.  Invariably when I was done I would find myself locked out of the house  because mom had made yet another lock-up round.  I did not want to wake up the house and also did not want to get caught as a smoker by mom, so I had to dig in the dark for the fake rock which held a key to the door.  It was a bit comical looking back, but infuriating at the time.

The dementia progressed slowly and eventually mom had to be placed in assisted living where she went through all the stages of dementia.  I visited seldom as she lived far away.  My brother did most of the arrangements and lived nearby.  He visited almost every day, and I think he became a “son” to a few other ladies who did not have steady visitors.

The few times I did visit, she was aware that she knew me, but was not completely sure who I was.  On my last visit, I don’t believe she knew me at all, but was happy to see me anyway. 

Dementia is a horrible disease.  It can be scary for the afflicted, and frustrating for loved ones. 

I miss my Mom.  I even miss being locked out of the house late at night hiding my habit while she tried to hide her affliction.

24 comments:

  1. This one hits incredibly close to home.. I agree. Dementia is a horrible disease. Sending hugs from Idaho..

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  2. I'm happy that my parents didn't go through that, but don't know about generations further back. It does cross my mind every time I forget something and mentally give myself a kick start but I'm pretty sure it doesn't run in my family. Of course everything has to start somewhere...

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  3. I was told that the decease hits at an early age and then progresses. Not sure if this is true but I hope it is because that means I'm safe. Recently I got to wondering if the awful disease ran in families.

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  4. i really likes your blog and You have shared the whole concept really well. and Very beautifully soulful read! thanks for sharing.

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  5. I was thinking about your mom last week. We were on vacation, sailing.. and a family tradition dinner at The Crab Claw in St. Mike's. Waitress wore t-shirts that, on the back, said" I eat the mustard!" I was maybe 21 when I picked crabs with her....She made a great crab casserole....

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  6. I agree. Dementia is a horrible disease. I watched my mom go through all the stages until eventually she forgot her love of ice cream and then just forgot to breathe.

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  7. So sad...and so frightening. I think most of us live in fear of contracting this dread disease that robs one of oneself.

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  8. It is very sad that many have to go through this. Their families too. My mother died of ALS and that was most horrible. I too miss my mother.

    Have a fabulous weekend, Joe. ☺

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  9. I lock up once--or not at all. This disease is horrid. It took my uncle and broke my aunt's heart.

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  10. Dementia is a horrible disease, we went through all of the stages with Cindy's Mom so I can relate to your time helping your Mom cope with dementia.

    I have so many words but want you to know that you brought a tear to my eyes with this one, I'm glad you posted this one Joe.

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  11. I'm sorry about your mom, Joe. We are going through that right now with both my mother-in-law and my Dad. My mom is stressed to the max and doesn't know how much longer she can care for him. It's hard because I still have two kids I'm responsible for, so it's hard for me to help out,

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  12. Probably the cruelest disease out there. It stresses the caregiver unbelievably but I appreciate how you saw the affect on the person disappearing from their own life. May we and those we love be spared.

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  13. It's awful to watch and horrible to contemplate, and i hope they come up with treatments or prevention somehow.

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  14. I feel blessed that I didn't have dementia to deal with when it came to my parents. y sympathies for what you experienced with your mother.

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  15. Such a good son, not wanting to worry your mom with the smoking. Because you know she would still have loved you, no matter if you smoked.

    Two of my mom's three brothers had dementia. I think she was afraid of it, too. She was the youngest. She got a little forgetful when she hit 78, but her last two months before she died at 80, she seemed to struggle. We don't know if it was dementia, or due to the brain tumor, but we're relieved that she didn't have to go through it for very long. The last visit I had with her, three days before she died, she was quite clear-headed, and remembered everything.

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  16. My wife and I experienced similar situations with our mothers. My mother lived the last few years of her life in a nursing home. My two sisters and I visited each day with few exceptions. We were fortunate in that she still recognized us toward the end.
    Jilda's mom recognized us, but she got mean. The last words she uttered to me was, "You son of a bitch." I patted her foot and stepped into another room. That wasn't my mother-in-law. My mother-in-law knew me from when I was still a kid and adored me.
    The disease is despicable and I have empathy for anyone going through it or will go through it themselves or with a loved one.
    You touched a nerve with this on Joe.
    R

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  17. I'm so sorry you had to go through that with your Mom. I see it in my work at the hospital and it's so hard on everyone in the family. My Uncle had Alzheimer's and in the early stages my Dad (his brother) passed away unexpectedly and that really threw my Uncle and advanced the disease. I remember him coming up to me and he didn't recognize me. He showed me a picture of my Dad and said "This is my brother. He died. He was a good guy". They both were and I miss them every day. Hugs to you Joe.

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  18. I saw in my mom/MIL one losing their mind and one's body start to deteriorate. My MIL had dementia associated with Parkinson's but her body was pretty much in good shape. My mom's brain was sharp as a tack but she suffered from a lot of chronic pain. I decided at that point I rather deal with aches and pains than suffer with dementia. I often wondered. My mom played a lot of games, did a lot of word search puzzles and crossword puzzles. Did that help preserve her brain? I think we weren't aware how bad MIL's memory was, living away from her at the time, but in retrospect we remember a visit in 2005 when she repeated the same story to us almost verbatim about a favorite student of hers (she was a special education teacher) at least 10 times over the weekend's visit we had. She shared it like it was the first time she had told it to us. We thought it was her excitement to see us. Little did we know. I hope I keep my mind and if I don't completely, I hope I still remember those I love and am not aggressive as some that lose their minds are.

    betty

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  19. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  20. Dementia is a general term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life. Memory loss is an example. Alzheimer's is the most common ...
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  21. So you can make me cry too ?

    My parents did not go under such circumstances before leaving this life but one of my aunt is suffering with this disease and i visit her in months though but can't forget her warm ,live and happy days when she was a normal person and enjoyed her life and made others happy too.
    i don't want to live until then Joe

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  22. Dementia is horrible. I've watched my grandparents forget so much, and it terrifies me to think of my parents having the same thing at some point.

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  23. I think a lot of people are terrified of getting this disease. I'm not sure if it's harder on the person who has it or the person who is taking care of a loved one with it. A former boss talked of visiting his mom in the nursing home and said she didn't remember who he was. I told him, "...maybe she doesn't - but YOU do."

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