Many moons ago when I was much more naive and innocent I thought the word dementia was reserved for very, very old people, with Alzheimers. I never thought it would affect my life in any way. I thought dementia had to do with memory loss and aging. Again I had no clue.
“Dementia is a loss of brain function that occurs with certain diseases. It affects memory, thinking, language, judgment, and behavior.”
Memory – yes my husbands short term memory is shot, he can tell you in great detail things that happened 20 years ago but if you ask him what he ate for lunch today he may not be able to remember.
Thinking – wow is this ever an issue, his thinking is really messed up. A man who used to be so logical it made my creative mind hurt has no logic left in him at all. For example he thinks it is perfectly logical to drive 100 miles round trip to save $5 on something that we could buy locally. It’s cheaper in the city so it makes perfect sense to drive 100 miles with gas at $3.59 a gallon to save $5 to him. I have more sinister examples but perhaps another day for those.
Language – he can’t think of words, his vocabulary is shrinking, the words he does use are more crude at times, he struggles to spit out his thoughts.
Judgement – let’s just say he has none – tell a dirty joke in front of your sister’s 7 year old daughter? Sure why not? Tell same dirty joke to mother-in-law’s church lady friends? Yep again why not? Carry on illicit conversations with ex girlfriends on facebook where in you tell blatant lies about yourself and your wife? Again his judgement tells him that this is a-okay.
Behavior – to me this all goes together with judgement. If you have no judgement and can’t think clearly or logically than your behavior is bound to be deplorable. And his is at times.
So how do I cope – well some days not very well. My husband is 47, I am 44! Dammit I’m not supposed to be dealing with this for another 40 years at least. But here we are. My family treats him as they would anyone with a mental disability or mental illness – to say they don’t call him out for most of his behaviors or words, but also do take anything he says or does seriously. I have a harder time with it, especially with people who may not know about his disability. The physical disability is obvious but the mental part is not so obvious and many people may think he is just a jerk when he starts in, or sometimes he is terribly charming and they find him endearing but often he does or says something that ends this.
I used to cut in and try and stop him but that just angers him and then he yells at me calling me horrible names at times and in front of friends, family, strangers, anyone really it is just mortifying. So mostly I let him go and if these are people I will have to interact with again I be sure to privately fill them in.
Dementia…. it’s not just for great grandparents anymore.