Dealing with Short Attention Spans with Dementia

by Leah Community Member

July 1st was my birthday. I am 62...Or is it 63? I'm really sure that I'm older than 61... Let's see...1948 to 2000 would be 52 years...add ten years to get to 62 in 2010...and now it' I add one year... NOW I KNOW HOW OLD I WILL BE-I will be 63 years old tomorrow. And yet, I'm not sure I know what it felt like to be 62...I have Vascular Dementia, and this is getting to be what it is like to get through life for me.

The importance of short term memory becomes evident to me over and over in a day. Short term attention span can also be a problem. The strange thing is that sometimes I am cognizant of my difficulties...almost like being out of my body, watching my movements. For instance, I was cutting my nephew's yard today. I started at the garage, cut down by the water, took a swipe across the grass near the house, saw some weeds growing in the small gully and went there to cut. Then I saw some grass near the house and went there. I kept my mower moving from place to place, never finishing just one area at a time. I was everywhere with my riding mower...and then, suddenly, I saw what I was doing and wondered why I was doing it that way...and thinking that I should finish one area first before going to another...What does this mean? A similar thing happens when my husband and I are in a discussion. While he talks, my mind goes everywhere...then suddenly, I will remember that I need to focus on what he is saying...and I do, for a short while. Then, if he is still talking, I begin to get anxious and agitated...Why is this happening?

I have lots of questions. Perhaps my dementia is changing, increasing. Perhaps it's just that I have much on my mind...

Yesterday doesn't exist for me...unless I have written down what I did or someone reminds me. On a Monday morning, someone can ask me how my weekend was-and I don't know!! I answer one of two ways, either "It was okay" (if I don't feel like explaining my condition) or "I don't know" (and then I DO have to explain or I am looked at as if I had three heads). Recently, I gave the latter answer to a podiatrist I had gone to and he just laughed when I said I have vascular dementia and said, "Don't we all!!!"

I am tired of having people downplay the condition with a "Don't we all" kind of attitude. If I had a broken leg or burns, or a bad limp, no one would be laughing. Sometimes, you can't SEE dementia, especially in the beginning. I don't want people to pour over me with sympathy or pity...I just want people to understand that I have a problem which I am dealing with as best I can-that I need more time to remember things, that I might not even remember something...but to accept me with some understanding. I don't know that I am expressing myself clearly enough now. I know there are those reading this who could post my viewpoint much more eloquently...

This blog tells about dementia from the viewpoint of someone who has it and is able to tell you how it feels, in hopes of helping you understand your own loved one who may have dementia. I do hope I have been successful today.

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