An Encounter With Dementia: An Outside Observation

Leah Health Guide
  • I had breakfast with my brother yesterday. He introduced me to a friend he met in the restaurant who was there with his elderly mother. While his mother was in the bathroom, he began to talk to us about his life now. He seemed very discouraged. His mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's eight months ago. Since then, his life had been rough. Taking care of her is a full time job. His house is a wreck as he has no time to clean it. His mother refuses to live outside the house. She can hardly find her way to and from the bathroom. She keeps trying to jump out of the moving car. His mother wants to kill herself. As he spoke, I could see the pain in his eyes. He is a simple man, probably not computer literate. It made me think about all those caregivers out there whose lives are not touched by sites as ours where they can get information and support. How very lost they must feel.

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    This encounter also caused me to look at my own life and how it is being affected by dementia. Thankfully, dementia has not yet affected the verbal part of my brain. It most certainly has hurt my short term memory, as well as other areas. Even though Aricept is good and has helped a great deal, it is not a cure. I still have trouble recognizing my tennis shoes. The other day, I looked for them. I saw my husband's shoes in front of the closet so went looking elsewhere for mine...Finally, after not finding them, I realized that my husband was wearing HIS so the first pair I saw had to be MINE. Still, I had to actually put them on to believe they were my own. They fit. They were mine.


    I'm having a harder time following recipes. Actually, my cooking seems to have gone downhill a bit. I used to be able to whip up a pretty good dinner...last night, I fixed some scallops that even I had a hard time eating...

    My husband, family, and friends are having to remind me more often now of conversations we've had recently.


    One of my passions used to be playing games and working on the computer. There was a time in the recent past, when my husband had a talk with me that I was staying on the computer too much...also compulsively. I agreed to limit my time on the computer. That hasn't been too difficult to do. I used to love to GOOGLE but am finding myself getting distracted and exasperated with it more now.


    Watching TV is not as easy anymore. I just can't understand some of the nuances of the commercials. I don't understand the finer points in the shows we watch. My husband frequently has to explain to me what is happening or why it is happening, what the characters are inferring, etc.


    Thinking back to my encounter with my brother's friend and his mother at breakfast, I can understand his frustration. It's not so much that he is angry with his mother as it is that he is angry at the the disease. All caregivers wish their loved ones did not have dementia....But then again, who would WANT to have dementia? Those of us with dementia do not-did not-choose to have it!


Published On: March 24, 2010