Saturday, November 15, 2008

Understanding Dementia

I want to share an article with you which may be downloaded here:

You'll need to copy and paste the link into your browser and then scroll down the page till you find the article titled Understanding The Dementia Experience.It's a very well-written primer on AD and it's stages, and how bad things can get. It will also help to explain some of what is erroneously seen as aggressiveness or belligerence.

After reading it myself, and knowing I am in the beginning stages of AD, I couldn't help but think how very strong a caregiver must be. Not only strong, but very intelligent and vigilant.

As you read the PDF, think of a magician and how he or she performs magic: How? By distraction, and in its latter stages, when the patient can no longer perform tasks by himself, the caregiver's job is to figure out a way to steer him in the proper direction without "arguing" him into it and many times that will call for "creative distraction".

One example cited in the article, written by Jennifer Ghent-Fuller, B.A., R.N., M.Sc.N, mentions a man who would not perform his "bathroom functions" until the other guy in the bathroom left. His caregiver figured out that he was seeing himself in the mirror, and when she had the opportunity, she covered the mirror with a sheet.

So as I was reading this article, one thought kept surfacing: "Bill, do you really wanna put somebody through this?"

No. No, I don't, and that is why I'm willing to do whatever it takes to keep myself mentally sharp. Right now the Namenda has been in my system for a month, the Welbutrin and the Cymbalta are keeping me "levelled" out psychologically, but I still notice myself acting erratically or forgetting the name of my grandson.

The job? So far so good, and I can still drive and carry on a conversation except when a word fails me.

Thanks as always for reading.



ByronMuse said...

Bill, you don't know me, though I have been a lurker on StraightDope for years. Tonight I stumbled onto your AZ blog and have been reading your story, which I hope is okay. My husband and I have become the unofficial caretakers of his grandparents, who are both suffering from severe dementia (one from AZ, the other we're not sure). Unfortunately in their case, they have progressed far enough that they will not (can not) accept the reality and honestly have no understanding or appreciation for their impairment. It is a very difficult situation for everyone, though their lack of awareness does lend a little "ignorance is bliss" to the whole scenario. It is so hard for us to help them, when they honestly believe they need no help whatsoever... meanwhile we watch them decline because they refuse medication or care. Sorry... not meaning to vent on here; just wanted to connect with you. I appreciate the care you are taking with your own health, and that you are taking the time to document it for others.

Bill Craig said...

Hey ByronMuse

Thanks for your comment.

I believe the reason I am so cognizant (right now - who knows what the future holds?) of what is going on with me is because I work in the medical profession.

Even so, it is very difficult for close friends and significant other to understand that I sometimes really cannot help what is going on - my foergetfulness, my anger and my helplessness, and they want me on more or different meds.

Right now I am an two types of ant-depressants and two Alzheimer's drugs, and I honestly feel (although I admit I cannot say for certain) that they work - all of them and I'm not real anxious to sump any more chemicals into my body.

Would it surprise you to know, that I too, am in soe form of denial just like your husband's grandparents? Maybe not to the degree they are, but certainly headed that way.

Some of it shows up right here in my blog, have you noticed? The bitterness I feel towards my significant other, for instance?

I love her more than I have ever loved anyone, and I hate her all at the same time, because I feel that she has deserted me, and wants to blame everything on BPD, when that is being taken care of by the two meds I am taking.

Not to go into the personal details of my romantic life, but she continues to frustrate me almost on a daily basis, that I feel like the two of us are no longer "in tune", and don't seem to be able to find any "common ground" because she is so fixated one one thing and is not considering the whole picture.

I'm okay with the Alzheimer's related dementia, but I need understanding. Not sympathy, but understanding, and I feel that I am not getting this through to her.

In closing, have you heard of the book The 36 Hour Day? I think that you and your husband would find it very informational and would also find a way to address what your husband's grandparents are avoiding.

Thanks for reading the blog and for contacting me, and best of luck! It would be nice to know how y'all are progressing.



Bill Craig said...

Sorry for the typos, guys. Need to proofread first, I reckon. ;)