Archive for the ‘Dementia’ Category:
Yesterday I walked in Georgia’s Alzheimer’s Association’s Walk To End Alzheimer’s. My family and the Jones family joined to form the Family Caregivers Team. Pictured here is seven of our twelve team members. Together we were able to raise $2,500 dollars for Alzheimer’s research. Both of our families have lost loved ones to Alzheimer’s disease so we know first hand how important it is to raise money for Alzheimer’s research.
In the picture above and below, you see us holding flowers we were given at sign-in. There were three categories of flowers: yellow flowers if we were walking in support of someone with Alzheimer’s, purple flowers if we were walking in memory of someone who had died from Alzheimer’s and blue flowers if we had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.
During the Opening Ceremonies we were asked to raise our flowers if we had Alzheimer’s; raise our flowers if a loved one had died from Alzheimer’s; and raise our flower if we care for or had cared for someone with Alzheimer’s. Almost every flower was raised for those who had taken care of someone with Alzheimer’s disease. It was a very emotional and eye opening moment. Thousands of purple and yellow flowers raised in the air. YET, so many people in this country have no idea what it means to take care of someone with this dreadful disease.
People of all ages participated in the Walk - babies in infant carriers and strollers and young children walking beside their parents; tweens and teens, college sororities and fraternities, young adults and not so young adults. Everyone had gathered for the Walk To End Alzheimer’s. As I looked around at some of us (myself included) who were overweight, it was quite apparent to me that we did not walk regularly and would probably have to take an Epsom salt bath when we got home. But the aches and pains didn’t matter, we wanted to support this very important cause.
This gentleman was quite an inspiration for me. Can you see his walker in the picture? By the time I took this picture we had walked about three quarters of a mile and we were on an uphill slope. This man had a caregiver with him who is off to the side but close enough should he need assistance. I don’t know if he walked the mile and a half track or the three mile track. I was just impressed that he participated.
It has been almost a year since I blogged. After Gladys passed, I just couldn’t seem to find the motivation to write any articles. This Walk was just what I needed because it gave me something to want to write about. If you’d like to see all of the pictures I took, you can find them here on our Facebook page. If you would like to donate, you can do so here on our Alzheimer’s Association Walk To End Alzheimer’s page.
Next year we’re going to try to recruit a bigger team. Why don’t you form a team where you live? These walks are going on all around the country.
Dementia is mental disorder that causes memory loss, a decline in intellectual and language skills, difficulties with motor skills and judgement. It can be caused by a variety of diseases or conditions. In Gladys’ case, her dementia was the result of a massive stroke, heart attack and seizures that occurred in a very short time span.
Gladys has lived with us now for two years, over which my family and I have witnessed her steady decline. At first her symptoms declined gradually but in the past four months it has been difficult to keep up with her mental and physical changes.
Why I Call Dementia a Sneaky Thief
I started calling dementia a sneaky thief about six months ago when Gladys could no longer go the the bathroom without assistance. It was as though someone snuck into her room and stole a life skill that so many of us take for granted: pull down pants, sit on commode, use toilet, stand up, pull up pants. A simple life skill that disappeared like a thief in the night.
At that time, Gladys still remembered to go to the bathroom but she would sit on the commode with her pants still up. She had no idea that she had not performed the necessary task of pulling her pants down. Dementia stole her ability to reason.
Right now dementia is just waiting to snatch away a few more of Gladys’ life skills that are teetering on the cusp of disability:
- swallowing medicine
- standing and walking
- feeding herself
- use of her left arm and leg
A thief is someone who steals something from someone else with the intent of keeping it (or selling it). Over time, dementia steals so many of our life skills. Simple things that we take for granted – things we do without thinking.
These are just a few of the things that my family deals with. If you are a caregiver, what has the sneaky thief stolen from your loved one?
Note: Image of the brain from http://faculty.washington.edu
As I write this post my god-sister, Gladys, is listening to a CD – The Best of Nat King Cole. She is sitting in her lounge chair just as satisfied as she can be. I am amazed to hear her sing along. She is smiling, she is happy and she is content.
In contrast, just yesterday, Gladys was extremely agitated. She was crying, her eyes were tightly closed, her teeth were chattering and her hand was closed into a tight fist. We didn’t know what was wrong with her and she couldn’t explain why she was agitated.
I bought the CD on eBay for $1.50. Shortly after it arrived, I asked Fred to play it for Gladys. Had I known the effect it would have on her, I would have done so sooner. When I finish this post, I’m going to call my mother and ask what other music I should buy.