The Face of Dementia

2002Face

This is my husband in 1988. He is capable; able to fix anything. He could take a car, disassemble and put it back together again. If you needed a transmission fixed, he was your man. He knew how to build things, fix anything that needed fixing and able to care very deeply. 

The year was 1988 when we married. Bill was an architectural draftsman at the time. until 1993 when he got laid off due to what they said was a lack of work. We found out later, it was because we used the insurance too much. There were two others in the same boat. He had gotten another draftsman job, but got laid off from that a year or two later and was told that everything was going to auto cad and he had no interest in learning the computer.

We owned a home in Lochuie, CO and in 1996 he built a beautiful 14×25 addition by himself with a storm basement. This was one that he did just for me. He built an 8’ bay window from floor to ceiling. We used to sit in the rocking chairs in the bay area and talk the afternoon away. It was beautiful to me and something I will never forget.

We moved to Missouri in the year 2000 and about 2007 sets of keys began to disappear, and they were nowhere to be found. They seemed to totally disappear. He lost many things and as time went on, things were going on that puzzled me. He would swear that I didn’t tell him something that I know I told him several times. I still dismissed those happenings as us getting old.

The first time I definitely knew that something was wrong was when a part for the Ford N 8 tractor came in and Bill went out to the garage to fix it after work. He had been gone for a long time. I strolled out to the garage to see how it was coming along.

When I got out there, he told me that this wasn’t the right part. I looked at the part, and the diagram that shows the way it was supposed to be put on. It was obviously the correct part, but he couldn’t understand how it fit.

This did concern me but when I showed him the diagram he insisted he was putting it on the right way. When I tried to show him how the part was supposed to go on in relationship to the diagram. He only got annoyed at me and insisted that he was doing it right, it just didn’t fit. I then called a friend of ours to come and see if it was the right part. He came over and it just went right on the way it was supposed to fit.

As time went on, things got worse. He lost so many objects and swore he put it in this one spot. He started accusing a friend of stealing from him. I knew that we had no friends that would ever steal from us and how could he think that way.

He never used to lose things. His memory used to be good too. He knew how to build things, and if something didn’t fit, he would be able to find something to make it work. He used to tear cars down and rebuild them. He was able to take transmissions apart and put them back together again. He had some of his home designs built in North Platte, NE, and he helped build himself.

He began telling people he raised his kids all by himself. Bill told everyone that he had full custody of his two boys from the beginning and that their mother would only take them for the summer. I wondered how he could forget things that were so major. He didn’t have custody, their mother did, and she gave the kids to us as soon as we got married. I no longer tried to correct him about things. What would be the harm?

Suddenly, he began doing other strange things as though he now had no conscience. I’m not saying that he became a liar. What I am saying is that something was wrong. I saw it, but I didn’t know what it was so I swept it away. 

 This man used to that used to be an architectural draftsman. He loved his family and he still does. This is the man that built houses, did some of the drafting for the Mall of America. He could build, take apart and put together, and he could fix anything.

After these things, he forgot how to do simple things. He forgot how to hammer a nail, he couldn’t screw in anything. There wasn’t anything he could do. I took us 4 and 5 hours to put together what used to take 1 to do. He lost his senses of up and down. This is the man with Dementia.

He no longer can do any drafting. He forgot how to build. He can no longer read many words. It’s too dangerous for him to drive a car. His reflexes are slow and he can’t make decisions. He can’t get the keys into the mailbox, and he is unable to stay by himself for long unless I am at a neighbors where he knows how to find me. bill

He feels as if he is stupid, and thinks  his friends find him that way too. He used to build additions on homes, repaired all the things that went wrong in a house; but that was yesterday.

Yesterday he could plant a garden with large luscious tomatoes, and extra large cantaloupe that dripped when they were cut open and very sweet to the taste.

Now this is the man with Dementia.

Today he is the shell of the man from yesterday. His eyes no longer sparkle, he no longer laughs. He rarely speaks. His hands remain idle because he no longer remembers how to do things with them.

This is the Ugly and Destructive Face of dementia. The lines in the forehead tell me he worries, but he doesn’t remember why. The hollow cheeks remind me his appetite is waning and he is losing weight. His mouth is drooping down in a permanent frown. He can’t remember the words to speak. This is the face of dementia. It’s ugly because this is an ugly, silent monster. Alzheimer’s robs your loved ones of their memory and only toward the end do they begin to lose their cognition.

Dementia robs your loved one of life itself. He doesn’t know what a hammer is for. He doesn’t know where or what the microwave is. He walks into walls, and large objects. He can’t think of what he wants to say. It’s difficult to sit there and look at that face of dementia wanting and trying so hard to say something and can’t think of the words, and when they do, they can’t get them out. Don’t try to finish their sentence for them because then they lose their very thought. There is not anything else to say. This is the ugly face of dementia.

 

The most difficult apology

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7 thoughts on “The Face of Dementia

  1. This rings so true. Both my parents were like this when they were very old. It was a major learning curve for me and now that they are both gone, there are things I wish I’d known and done differently.

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    1. My mother had Alzheimer’s and died with that. I took care of her for 16 years. It’s been a learning experience for me too. That is why I am going to write more about dementia in a couple of weeks. People need to know what helps to encourage and what doesn’t.

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      1. That’s good that you’re doing this. Dementia was something I’d never thought about until faced with it. I was totally unprepared and spent the next few years trying to expect the unexpected. But the unexpected was often so bizarre or frightening that it could never have been anticipated. It’s certainly not the cosy sweet little condition that’s portrayed in B movies. If I’m not already following your blog, I will now. Kindest regards, Helen

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