Sunday, March 13, 2016

Sometimes I wonder...

As a person grows older, perhaps because our heads become filled with so many years of information, the thought of dementia sometimes threatens, sort of like a cloud in the sky that drifts away harmlessly.  

For half my life, this has happened often to me:  I walk into a room, ask myself, "Now why did I come in here..." and finally turned and walked away because my mission totally escaped me.  Later, of course, sometimes even as I'm walking out, I will remember what I was after.  This used to trouble me, but then I'd talk to my husband and others and find out it happens to everybody, even to much younger folks.  We would compare notes and laugh it off.  We're fine, it's just normal.  And it is.

Lately, though, I've found myself opening my mouth to say something and the wrong word will pop out.  Not often, but frequently enough to trouble me.  For instance, the other day I was telling my husband what I do when a horse crowds too close to me:  "I just make a hissing noise and raise my ears."

I meant arms.  I raise my arms to make myself seem taller.  Cliff jokingly said, "You raise your ears?" and I answered, "Sure.  I can raise my ears if I want to," making light of the whole thing.  

I wouldn't worry if this were the only time it happened, but it's occurred several times lately.  Perhaps I don't even know how often it happens.  Maybe people are sparing me, for all I know, by not saying anything.  

I could go get tested for Alzheimer's, right?  But I really don't want to know, that's the truth of it.  

Yesterday I had occasion to run into a couple I know; the wife has dementia, and when she chats with me, it's what you would expect:  She'll talk about her mother and her childhood, relating the same stories over and over.  I respond as though I hadn't just heard the identical tale ten minutes ago, as well as last week and last month.  

Cliff has an aunt with Alzheimer's, and we watched her gradually forget her friends and family one at a time until, the last I heard, she only recognizes one of her two sons.  That's how it goes. 

This lady yesterday, though, made me realize how it must feel to be the spouse of such a person.  Her husband takes her to events with him and includes her in his activities, once in awhile bringing her sister along to help watch her.  

Yesterday his wife got out of their vehicle and came over to chat with me.  She looked a little peeved, and glancing over at her husband, said, "I've about had all I can take of him.  He moved in on me, I didn't invite him.  It isn't like we're married.  One of these days I'm going to lose it.  I know how to deal with him, I was raised with five brothers!"

When we got home, I said, "Cliff, if I get dementia, I may not even remember that you are my husband!"

"That's OK," he answered.  "I'll take care of you."

That's the worrisome thing with dementia, though.  Nobody wants a loved one to be saddled with such a burden, to have to give up normal life and take care of a person who doesn't even recall who they are.

I'm not the least bit afraid of dying.  I've had everything I want from life and then some.  But dementia scares me to death, not for myself, but for my family.  I have told them, "When the time comes that I don't know who I am or where I am, put me in a home, because it won't matter."  

But what do they do until that time comes?

I know this entry is a downer, but I'm sure everyone of a mature age has had these thoughts, we just don't like to admit it or talk about it because it's such an unpleasant topic.  Just bear with me this once, and Miss Polly Sunshine will be back in the next entry.  


Robbyn AndJack said...

It's not a downer, it's an actual concern. But I do have this strong not put off an evaluation. Why?? Because catching any form of memory issues early on CAN VERY much be a good thing! There are amazing advancements in medicines to halt, help improve, or greatly slow its progression if any issue is found. Early diagnosis gives better results, so see it as an eye exam, keeping things in their correct focus even if that requires something to medically assist. If that's not the case, it's nice to know that, too :-)

Charade said...

I've heard this before: "When you lose your keys, don't worry. When you find your keys, and you have no concept of what keys are for, then you have reason to worry." I also agree with Robbyn AndJack - get some cognitive testing done now and again in a year. If there is more than the expected slowdown from age, you and your doctor have many more options available than if you wait. Are you still doing your own form of meditation each morning? That helps, too!

Back Porch Writer said...

I feel I'm going to be a prime candidate for dementia b/c I'm already demented, lol. I have always switched words up, have been horrible at remembering names and even people that I've met, and sometimes forget things I've said or experienced. I say things like "I"m going to Sam's when I totally mean Walmart". I just dread it. I really do. A family member is experiencing dementia now - possibly Alzeimer's. Regardless, getting very confused about everything, including forgetting people. Time no longer has any meaning. But she can still sortof figure it out with a calendar - but her days and nights are mixed up so even turning the daily calendar page is getting more difficult, as is when/what day it is to take medication. It's time for a change, but it's George's side of the family and not my decision to make. Someone is needing to be with her more often. It is really hard to watch. I know how you feel worrying about it. You do seem to have a wonderful family though and that is something to feel thankful for. People who will see to YOU and figure things out for you when you no longer can figure things out and they will know YOU even when you may not know them. And that is love that takes over from there, sad as it is, it's love that takes over.

Barbara In Caneyhead said...

Yes, it is true, I do think sometimes about those things. I do think sometimes about what like would be like for me or Pete without the other. But I certainly don't dwell on them or actually worry over it. God has seen me though some pretty awful and rocky times and I trust He can do it again. Mostly simply, it gains us not one thing to do more than ponder, perhaps plan a little and then move on. If we let ourselves get caught up in a season of worry about something that hasn't happened yet, we a wasting the days that are here now for something that might never happen.
Life & Faith in Caneyhead

ErinFromIowa said...

This is something that needed to be said! Thank you for making me feel better. :)

Calfkeeper said...

I think of these things as well; especially as I am now dealing with my mother and her beginning the descent into dementia. Her mother also went through it; though at a much earlier age (my mom is 87 and my grandmother was just in her late 70s when she began to go). I distinctly remember my mom's frustrations with her mother and my mom telling me; "Rebecca, when I get bad just put me in a home somewhere and have done with it." But now that it's come down to it, of course she doesn't want to be put in a home; she believes she is fine and does not realize that she repeats herself constantly. She doesn't see that she can no longer take care of her bills, her banking or anything else, and she'd certainly give up on life if I were to put her in a home as she'd told me to do so many years ago. I certainly don't think of her as a burden or anything else; though surely I do have my patience tested. And all through it I wonder how old I will be when it hits me, and what my daughter will do if she is around.

Margaret said...

There are many advancements in treatments, although I would like to think you're reading a lot into a few non-thinking lapses of language. Anyone who functions as well as you do on so many levels probably has no real issues. xoxo