Living with Dementia: Looking Back Through Another's Eyes
I have dementia. But I have much to be thankful for. I wouldn't wish dementia on my worst enemy, but neither would I necessarily see it as the worse thing in the world to have. I must make a disclaimer here, though. All dementias are NOT alike. I think I am lucky to have vascular dementia as I can live relatively unaffected for five to ten years-unless I have further strokes or mini-strokes. I am NOT making light of dementia. I know that Alzheimers, Early Onset Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia, and other types are much harder on an individual. I am writing from my own standpoint.
My advice to the reader is: Don't take your memory for granted. Work on improving it. Memorize lists of words. Work crossword puzzles. Exercise. Eat right. Because once you lose your memory, there's really no coming back...
Sure, once you are diagnosed, medications like Aricept may help some, for awhile. And, exercising your mind and body might be of some benefit, too. But don't look for miracles...
I have lost most of my short-term memory. My husband has to tell me what we did on the cruise last November. He has to relate to me what the ports looked like. I listen, and it's almost like a story about someone else's life.
We talked over breakfast this morning about this very thing. Bill said he has stopped saying, "Remember when..." because he knows I can't remember when and that it bothers me not to remember. Instead, he just factually states what happened or what the places were like. I have been able to keep few memories of the cruises we've taken during the five and a half years of our marriage.
We take a cruise every year for our anniversary. One might ask WHY continue to go on these vacations when I have little to no memory of them.
It's a valid question.
The answer is quite simple.
We love the planning involved. We spend countless evenings together, pouring over the islands we will visit and the-what's it called...oh, yeah-the tours we might take or beaches we may go to. (Beaches have become our favorite on-shore activity.) We love the time spent together on the cruise, sunbathing, dining, watching the sunsets. And, we have his memories. And, a few of my own.
I am so grateful to have a husband who cares enough to continue taking me places. He enjoys seeing me living in the moment, loving the warm breezes. He laughs at my glee when the seas get rough, and I push to get as close to the waves as I dare...or the ship allows me. He encourages me to get into the warm Caribbean water and helps me keep my balance. He is so very patient. I think my husband gets as much enjoyment at seeing me relish the moments we have during the cruise as he does the cruise itself. And, for this, too, I am thankful.
And, so, I say, once again. Enjoy each moment ...and remember to exercise your mind to keep it at its best. You may not have your memory forever. Appreciate it while you do!