I like the idea of putting my feet into the shoes of someone with dementia to better understand how it might feel for some – maybe it will give you a sense of what they experiences as you read it, or like me, you have lived it.
It is accepted that no two loved ones with dementia have exactly the same experiences, no two go along their disease path exactly like anyone else. BUT still, we can learn and get a sense of what it is like through what others tell us.
Maybe after reading this, you can take time to search for other descriptions to read to enhance your knowledge-bank of this wicked disease. Find them. Read them. Share them.
While this featured writing is not my creation, it is posted with the hopes of helping to dissolve the stigma surrounding memory loss. I searched Google and was unable to find an author.
How many times have we heard people joke about dementia? Have you ever said “I had a senior moment”? Nobody jokes about cancer, or ALS, or heart disease. But we joke about those who are suffering from dementia, an unimaginable form of hell.
Maybe if we knew more we wouldn’t joke about it so much.
Most people think dementia is just about forgetting. But dementia is so much more.
To understand what dementia really looks like, imagine this:
Imagine you wake up tomorrow morning and you are in a strange house, in a strange bed, and there is someone in your house you have never seen before.
You know someone has stolen your wallet and your money.
Now, imagine you do not know where the bathroom is, or how to get a glass of water, or whether it is day or night.
You see people coming through the windows, the floor is on fire and you wonder where your mom is, although she died years ago.
You worry about your children and wonder why they are not home from school yet, even though they are in their 40’s and 50’s.
Your body is so stiff and rigid that walking is difficult.
Your field of vision is about the size of a shoebox, and you do not understand that by looking up, down or to the side, you can see more.
You feel unsteady on your feet because your muscles have weakened ao much.
You cannot wash your hands or brush your teeth by yourself. You have not showered or changed your clothes in days, but in your mind you just did.
You have things to say, but after two or three words you forget what it was. You try to say a common word, but only gibberish comes out. No one understands you, so you just give up.
You have always been a patient and kind person, but now you curse, throw things, threaten people, and tell them to get out of your house.
You loved to travel and go places, but now you get upset if you are away from home for more than a few minutes.
You do not know the month, year, day, time or season. You do not know the people around you and everyone and everything is strange. You are not aware of these changes taking place, and don’t understand why you are not allowed to drive anymore.
People treat you as a child. Friends stop coming to see you.
These are just a few things a dementia sufferer goes through on a daily basis.
They are no longer the same person, but they still see themselves as the same and everything and everyone else has changed.
Dementia is so much more than just forgetting.
There is no cure, and you will never improve. Your brain deteriorates to the point it no longer tells your body and organs what to do, so it shuts down. This disease will be your cause of death.
So when you hear someone has dementia, think about what it really means.
It is not just about forgetting.
Thank you to my friend and former caregiver for his wife, George Salter, for posting this informative writing on my Facebook page. He also knows the benefit of sharing our knowledge among caregivers.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT CAREGIVING FOR ONE WITH MEMORY LOSS:
1. Read more articles and posts and see the videos in this blog for more caregiver support. See top main menu.
2. Read my two books about caregiving.
Sharing knowledge is definitely one reason why we write books and blogs and make videos about caregiving…we know it helps those who seek to understand.