Thursday, November 12, 2015

Dementia

I have known a few demented people in my time but none with dementia that I know of. Mother's best friend's husband has dementia. It is a bit hard to tell as he has always been vague. We recently attended his 70th birthday at the Cuckoo Restaurant in the Dandenong Ranges as his guests, rather than like Mother's 80th at the same venue where each person had to pay for their own food and drinks. The difference is they are rich. Our family gave him a $100 voucher for his favourite big tin shed store, Masters, and a writing pen which we had engraved, for around $80. His wife is very kind and generous to Mother, so it is a minor way to repay her. Given he has dementia, we were all a little surprised at the gift his wife gave him, a voucher for a trip on his own on the Spirit of Tasmania to see his sister. His wife doesn't like Tasmania and refuses to ever go there.

A little closer to home I had an odd conversation with a neighbour, who said, "I am taking N out shopping as his licence (driving) has been taken away from him". I did not ask why, but I recall this neighbour previously saying in passing something like N was going crazy. Now things were making sense. He must have dementia. The neighbour who told us is older than N and like some men of his age, is a shocking gossip.

N was a school principal and his wife a teacher . They were deemed superfluous to requirements during the Kennett state government era, and took voluntary (forced) departure packages. They own their apartment here and have recently sold their holiday house on the Bellarine Peninsula.  Usually they take an overseas holiday every year but that has come to end now as they are too old to undergo the rigours of travel, even at the pointy end of the plane. Their life has now been much reduced. Kind of sad, but part of the process of ageing.

Note: After I began this post some time ago, I have since chatted to N and he told me he has early onset dementia. He is not worried about not being able to drive and is quite enjoying using public transport. His wife still drives, but lordy, is she a shockingly cautious driver, quite a road hazard really. She has had her own serious health issues and nearly died from a blockage to her lungs and I really feel for her. While she is sharp as a tack, N in the 12 or so years we have known him has always been a smart mouthed grumpy old man and has never stood back from being critical of her. At some point, the positions will be reversed, where he can no longer try to bully her. Don't feel sorry for her though. She is financially independent and he is the one who will be dependant on her.

25 comments:

  1. Andrew, I was reading in The Daily Mirror today that said having a warped sense of humour can be a sign of eventual oncoming dementia. Apparently relatives of patients with frontotemporal dementia told a team of scientists that their loved ones had begun laughing at tragic events in the news or their personal lives... if you can believe that.
    Don't they also say we need a good night's sleep to fend off the dreaded illness. They say that Maggie Thatcher tried to get by every night with just 4 hours sleep. It didn't help her in the end.

    But it surely must be one of the worst ways to go. A living death really.

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    1. Interesting Deejohn, but it is a Daily Mirror story. A warped sense of humour is one thing, but laughing inappropriately, quite another. I wonder if the good night's sleep is not a chicken and egg matter, with people who may go on to have dementia not sleeping very well in the earlier lives. I will be polite and not sully Thatcher with thoughts that come to my mind.

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  2. Plenty around here with it, various types. I hope someone will shoot me in the head if I start to blather badly.

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    1. Strayer, blather badly or blather worse than you do? :-)

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  3. My mother-in-law had what they think is early stage Lewy Body Dementia. It's terribly sad watching her go downhill. What a terrible thing all forms of dementia are!

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    1. Jennifer, hi and welcome. Yes, it must be awful to observe, especially from the slight distance of not being a direct relative where you see with much less emotion.

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  4. Dementia is among the cruelest of diseases. The person you knew is gone, and you still have to look after the shell.
    I so hope it isn't one which afflicts me, or those closest to me.
    Mind you, if deejohn is right, I am already in trouble. My humour has always been on the warped side...

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    1. EC, from what I see the early stages for someone with dementia can be frustrating but manageable, especially with a supportive partner. The latter part where they really are away with pixies, not so bad for them or their partner, sad as it may be. It is the middle part that is the worst, with moments of lucidness but generally not so lucid and irrational, angry, abusive. Oh, I forgot your volunteer work. I am sure you know better than I do.

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  5. Dementia is a sad ending for a life. one of my friends in the shoe factory had to leave work early one day to go and collect his father, who had somehow managed to get himself on a bus and travel to another town where he wandered around not knowing who and where he was.
    My neighbour P has a friend, thankfully now in a nursing home, who used to drive her car somewhere, get out and walk and eventually find her way home then call the police to report her car stolen. She never remembered driving it anywhere.

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    1. River, I had a workmate whose father had dementia. She dealt with it with humour, and very black humour at times, sometimes seeming a little cruel. I remember a blog mate's father who might have had dementia going for extremely long car drives, and driving very badly. Not long before he died, his license was taken away from him, but that was far too late.

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  6. Nasty disease - robs the sufferer of everything they used to hold dear. Robs the family of everything they held dear about that person as well. I 'lost' my aunt to Alzheimers a few years ago and watched her decline slowly for a few years then the final deterioration happened quickly.

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  7. Cathy, I think it isworse for the family than the person. Your experience with your aunt sounds like what I know.

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  8. So sad. There are dreadful illnesses in this world..let's hope a cure is found very soon, along with what has been found thus far..

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    1. Margaret, at least there is delaying medications now.

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  9. Forms of dementia are such terrible diseases. It's a blessing that N is able to keep a good attitude. Maybe he'll be less crotchety. That, at least, will reduce some of the burden his wife has to bear.

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    1. Mitchell, he is remarkably sanguine about his diagnosis, outwardly at least.

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  10. Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson's psychosis... think I'll just go chunky dunking instead.

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    1. Jac, the mind boggles at chunky dunking.

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  11. I agree with all above Andrew. My neighbour of many years went from not being able to drive, to not being able to ride his bike to not being able to go off on a walk by himself and now he's in care and although his wife visits him every day he doesn't know her. That's a cruel fate indeed.

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    1. Grace, a classic case of the progression. It is a kindness for him at least that is now quite unaware, but not for his wife, I am sure.

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  12. I found your post very depressing. I don't mind the aging process but the thought of dementia is awful.

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    1. Marie, can you pick someone who will develop dementia? At times I think you can. No one would look after themselves better than you do. I think you will make it to your crabby nineties.

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    2. I should have added, with your mind intact.

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  13. My uncle had dementia when I was a young child it was a long time ago and not a lot was know about it then, in the early stages I enjoyed his company but as he progressed into decay I become very wary of him as he would get very upset and could be agressive without warning, I still worry about it as it's in the family.
    Merle.....................

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    1. Merle, at least families understand what is happening with the person. It is worse when it is someone like a neighbour who gets angry, aggressive and irrational.

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