• I was probably the first one to notice that I experienced changes in my life, and my son, Cary, who lived with me, began to notice changes as well. There were subtle changes at first, things that could be passed off as, ”We all forget!” Or ”I can’t remember names, either!"

  • My first noticeable clue was I could no longer do arithmetic. I couldn’t balance my checkbook and so I stopped paying bills. I simply threw bills in a box and didn’t care that I no longer took responsibility for my spending. 

  • I lived in the same home for 40+ years and I could not find my way home from the grocery store that I frequented every week of those years. I became so alarmed, I told my family. My dear daughter and my son-in-law, Larry, asked, ”Mom, do you mind if we put a GPS on your car?” My response was quick and decisive, ”Oh! Please do!

  • I could not remember the names of my four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren I had to constantly ask for their names. At first, it was funny to us all; then it became obvious I was having difficulty. 

  • I often become confused and Cary was frustrated that I could not remember that we discussed problems and conflicts between us. He told his sister, Laura, that I didn’t perform as we had agreed, problems didn’t get solved and conflicts continued. 

  • I kept telling the same stories over and over.

  • I couldn’t remember words and the family became very proficient in completing my sentences. 

  • I gave up housekeeping altogether, not doing the basic tasks to keep the house clean and I didn’t care. 

  • Craig, Laura’s twin brother who came for a visit, became alarmed when I told him I was throwing the bills in a box and not paying them. He checked with Cary and Laura and they began putting the symptoms together. 

  • Cary suddenly died from esophageal cancer and I floundered around, not knowing what I should do. First I wanted to stay in my home of 42 years and soon realized I was no longer able to function responsibly as an adult. The family patiently waited until I decided I must sell my home. Laura and Larry agreed to make a home for me and I would spend half of the year with Craig. 

  • Laura and I consulted my physician of many years, I took a test and a diagnosis made it official, I have early stages of dementia. At last, I had a name to define my confusions. I can live with knowing I have a mental problem and we can make adjustments to compensate for my declining mental and physical health. My physical health clearly declined through diabetes, a heart problem, fractures from my many falls, and cancer. I need living assistance. I am so very grateful that my entire family step up to the plate and give me excellent care. Should I need to go to a nursing home I can make that adjustment as well. 

Here are the textbook signs of dementia:

Dementia Sign #1: Short-term Memory Loss 

Dementia Sign #2: Forgetting Instructions / Skills

Dementia Sign #3: Forgetting Words

Dementia Sign #4: Mood Changes 

Dementia Sign #5: Apathy

Dementia Sign #6: Difficulty Performing

Dementia Sign #7: Confusion

Dementia Sign #8: Repetition

Dementia Sign #9: No Sense Of Direction

Dementia Sign #10: Difficulty Adapting

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Spud, I have an image of myself of not being able to find any words at all and I end up waving my arms, pointing at objects, and blathering on incessantly. My great-granddaughter is now four-years-old and developing a vocabulary we can understand. As she gains language, I lose it. She tries so hard to be understood and I remember even a year ago, I could make no sense of what she tried so desperately to convey. She is also out of diapers and wonders why I still wear them.

Well, dear friends, I invited you to go on this journey with me because I knew I could trust you to be patient with me and accept me as I dodder into old age. I expect you to tell me if I am foolish or stupid. I just hope my body gives out before my brain. 

Thank you, Ruth, Plinius (Chris), Loren, Tom, and Spud, my virtual family. How fortunate I am to have both a virtual family and a biological one. (With what word can I replace "biological"?)

For ‘biologica’, does ‘genetic’ suffice?

Or ‘darn’ because it’s so like ‘dna’?

Armistead Maupin famously wrote of having a biological family and a logical family. We're with you, Joan!

Grinning Cat, that is a wonderful way to phrase it: I have a biological family and a logical family!  That is so true! 

Joan, someone else said that there's the family you're born with and the family you choose.  In that second category, I am very damned glad to have chosen YOU.

Molte grazie, bella!

Joan, people who try to do well are NEVER foolish or stupid (as I often tell the people in my course). Just stay with us and share, and we can travel together happily.

Thank you, Chris. It feels so good to know I don't have to put on a mask in order to be a part of the group. 

At this writing, you had 66 views. So many members know about your situation. It is admirable that you have confessed to your "dementia". It is, however, not so obvious in your writings. Your listing of clues is helpful to this nearly 76 year old one. I now know what to be looking for. (So far, so good.)

Please remain involved here at A/N and don't worry about what you are writing. We understand and are grateful for your participation. Many hugs.

The textbook signs need more study.

I have all my life forgotten the meanings of words philosophers use, such as teleological and epistomological.

I have all my life had a good sense of direction outdoors and lose it when I go indoors.

What did you say your name was?

My name is Joan! (grin). My Dad used to call me, "Jo-Jo, the dog-faced girl!" It always made me laugh. I was named Princess of the1954 Lilac Festival, a position dreamed up by the Chamber of Commerce for Spokane. When I received my crown and lovely wardrobe of clothes to wear as I represented Spokane in various promotion events, I went to my Dad and said "Jo-Jo, the dog-faced girl! made a name for herself!" He agreed.

1954 Press Photo Lilac Festival Queen, Rosemarie Thomsen, Princess Carol Miller on the left, and Princess Joan Denoo on the right. 

My goodness, that was a long time ago! 

YES, JOAN, WRITE MEMOIRS.

You have had a life; it will inspire the youngsters.

I wrote short ones because I knew I wouldn’t finish a long one. They were about becoming a sailor, quitting Catholicism, becoming an atheist, about going into politics, etc.

My first one, written as history, bored me and I quit. But I really wanted to do one about my parents so I experimented. I put myself in the past and wrote those short ones in present tense.

Immersed, I recalled stuff I had forgotten and saw relationships between events. The slogan, the personal is political, became real.

Give it a try.

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