The Road of Dementia
Anyone who has experienced Alzheimer’s or dementia knows the face, the look, the loss. Many times, the signs go unnoticed until later in life; well after the Alzheimer’s or dementia has been diagnosed.
There is an amazing documentary available called The Genius of Marian which was shown on POV via many local PBS channels. Pam’s son began filming with the idea that they were going to tell the story of Mana, his maternal grandmother who had Alzheimer’s; instead it became the story of his mother, Pam, and her journey with early onset Alzheimer’s dementia.
Pam’s husband reaches a point where their doctor suggests accepting help from a professional caregiver and you can see the fear in Pam’s eyes; the indecision in her husband’s. This isn’t just the story of one family, but of nearly every family out there who has loved someone with dementia from any cause. See “The Genius of Marian” trailer here.
Common Signs of Dementia
- Limited communication – Forgetting words or being unable to complete thoughts properly can often limit the ability to communicate with others. Common words can be easily forgotten and trying to carry on a conversation can become frustrating for someone with dementia.
- Anger – Often the anger will come from the frustration and loss of knowledge that those affected by dementia are experiencing.
- Confusion – What may seem like a simple action can often become confusing and frustrating to someone with dementia. The smallest of decisions can often become very confusing; especially if there are choices to make and “correct” answers to give.
- Crying/Laughing – Those with dementia may end up becoming very emotional, quite easily. Most anything can trigger a crying or laughing jag for no apparent reason.
- Fear – Many times people will become fearful of things that they have known and experienced their entire life. They may have no apparent reason to fear something in your mind, but in theirs there is something that causes fear to set in.
- Blank stares – There is a look that becomes quite connected with “the face of” those who have dementia and Alzheimer’s. It is often referred to as a far off, blank stare and becomes synonymous with those who seem to be lost inside their own minds due to dementia.
It’s not unusual for signs of dementia to go unnoticed or even cast aside in denial or even shame; however, it’s important to get a diagnosis for dementia as soon as possible. Don’t try to handle your loved one’s dementia alone; constant caregiving can cause you to become sick yourself and unable to care for your loved one.
While you may have taken vows to care for your spouse through better or worse, you are doing both yourself and your loved one an injustice by thinking you must care for them without any help. It’s okay to rely upon professional caregivers throughout the many changes of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s as it progresses.
Photo by Horia Varlan