This is not going to be a happy blog so some of you probably shouldn't read it. We all get confused sometimes. Forgetting things is normal. But there is a step beyond forgetting that can be signs of early dementia. Ray has vascular dementia but he has just completed all the signs of early dementia and started to show some of the signs on the moderate list.
Because I was worried over a few incidents that have happened in the past week I went back to re-read some of the information I got from the Alzheimer's Association. I need to know what is happening and then learn how to handle it. Not sure if I can handle a lot of it if Ray's dependence and dementia increase at the same time as they seem to be doing right now.
Signs of early dementia.
The person may:
. Appear more apathetic, with less sparkle
. Lose interest in hobbies, activities
. Be unwilling to try new things
. Be unable to adapt to change
. Show poor judgement and make poor decisions
. Be slower to grasp complex ideas and take longer to do routine jobs
. Blame others for "stealing" lost items
. Become more self-centred and less concerned with others and their feelings
. Become more forgetful of details of recent events
. Be more likely to repeat themselves or lose the thread of recent conversation.
. Be more irritable or upset if they fail at something
. Have difficulty handling money
Well that is Ray alright. Today we had an argument about something that I had put somewhere where he couldn't find it and the item was in his top pocket. Just the last of a lot of similar arguments he has started in the last few days.
From the moderate dementia list he is showing:
. Forget names of family or friends and confuse one family member with another
. Behave inappropriately for instance going outside in night attire
. Become angry, upset or distressed through frustration
. Forget or confuse memories of recent events or events from the past
As there are twelve items on each list four out of twelve does not mean he has moderate dementia but only that the dementia is progressing now. As time goes by he will slowly lose his ability to remember, understand, speak, recognise family etc. Mum is there now. She can still walk and eat. She has not had strokes like Ray who already has some impairment in those areas.
I was hoping the increased signs of dementia was from the stress of the last three months since the hip fracture and they would start to diminish but so far this is not so. Ray is doing some of the exercises recommended by the physio, his walking however is still not good as he still bends his back in the same way we once took for granted as the way old people walked. That is to do with the way he perceives balance and that is an area that can't seem to be fixed. Therefore he will always be prone to falls.
People with dementia can be difficult to care for, I had my mother here with dementia for two and a half years. She was probably where Ray is now when she came here. But she was completely mobile and so "ran away from home", stayed up all night, sneaked food and made a mess of the kitchen, exhibited a lot more irritating behaviour, behaviour which made a lot of extra work. She also refused to have a shower, became violent towards me when she was cross with me, deliberately broke things etc. From time to time she was so irrational that there was no reasoning with her. I think that was one reason in the end that I consented to her placement in a Dementia specific Lodge, where she still is five years on. I couldn't physically or emotionally look after both her and Ray.
I may be able to go on looking after Ray for a long time yet. If his physical health does not continue to deteriorate I can manage his mental conditions until they are bordering on severe dementia. If however both his physical and his mental condition deteriorate it will be a day-by-day existence and that may be a problem.There is a lot of advice in my brochures for setting up the right environment for the person with dementia, the "Do's and Don'ts" list is long and of course says not to get angry, not to argue, not to tell the person what they can and can't do etc. I don't know how I could possibly do all they say is needed, or become the saint I would need to be to behave just right so the person with dementia was never confused, angry, frustrated etc. Maybe there are some caregivers who are that PERFECT!
I think I prefer the last two lines on one of them:
. It is critical you take care of yourself
. Try not to ignore other important relationships in your life.
Maybe it should include:
. If all else fails, leave, don't look back, get a new life.