Re: Dementia - Saab General Bulletin Board - Saabnet.com
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Re: Dementia
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Posted by Notnoel [Email] (#23) [Profile/Gallery] (more from Notnoel) on Mon, 10 Jun 2013 10:08:26 Share Post by Email
In Reply to: Re: Dementia, JohnA [Profile/Gallery] , Mon, 10 Jun 2013 06:20:32
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It is a tough road you are heading down. My father passed away this year at the ripe old age of 94. For the past 5 years, we had pretty much the same telephone conversation every time I called, but he was very happy - lived with my sister on the west coast and she took great care of him. In that last year, he gave up phone calls, because phone calls became simply too confusing and disorienting.

Be on the look out for coping mechanisms; my dad developed short little monologues that made him sound alert and responsive, but which he'd use on everyone he met and would eventually start repeating in the span of a single conversation. You'll know things are progressing (badly) when he won't be able to "dig deeper" on these standard topics when asked, or when he can't keep up with new family members names (wives, grandchildren).

It really didn't get bad until the last 5 years, but 10-15 years ago he could barely keep up with my daughters names (they are 14 and 18 now). Eventually, he will become more generic in describing relationships, subtly abandoning any attempt to keep track of it. It is very friendly and genial, but he'll start using phrases like, "how's that wife of yours?" or "tell me how the girls are doing." Eventually, his sphere will contract to where he he won't ask at all, or won't pick up on the cues if I tell them what they've been up to, responding to reports that my oldest got straight A's with "that's wonderful," but not asking what grade she was in, what classes does she like, etc.

He will need increasing numbers of drugs and careful monitoring (to avoid interaction problems) to slow the progression of the disease, but slowing it is about all you can hope for. Try to keep his brain active - music, reading, what ever. Learning a new skill would great if you are succesful - see if there's something he always wanted to do and challenge him while you can - try learning the guitar together or something like that. With my dad and me it was the computer and email. Try to get him involved with family and friends to the maximum extent you can - variety of experience is your ally, routine is the enemy. Go ahead and enjoy TV, but watch it together, chat about the commercials, stay engaged. If he loves football, talk about the rankings, watch the ESPN Saturday morning show, encourage him to argue with the talking heads - express an opinion, etc.

My dad cared for my mother after a series of strokes for a decade. When she finally died, the dementia progress much more rapidly. Her care gave him a mission, a reason to stay engaged. I cannot emphasize enough that the elderly need some sort of a mission to slow this condition down. Keep him engaged!!

You must get him to stop riding the motorcycle as soon as possible. A motorcycle is not an inherently unsafe device, but it is uniquely unforgiving of inattention. It took my dad running into a lamp post in an otherwise empty Walmart parking lot to get him stop driving.
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