The face of dementia
This is my husband in 1988. He is capable; able to fix anything. He could take a car apart, and put it together again. If you needed a transmission fixed, he was your man. He knew how to build things, and fix anything.
The year was 1988 when we married. Bill was an architectural draftsman until 1993 when he got laid off. due to what they said was a lack of work. He found another job as a draftsman. In less than two years, he got laid off again. Everything was going to auto cad but, Bill 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. He did this one 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 always treasure.
We moved to Missouri in the year 2000 and about 2007 strange things began to happen. Bill would do something backwards, or crooked and insisted it was straight. He would be a little slower figuring out how to put something together. I just blamed it on age and us slowing down.
The first time I definitely knew that something was wrong was when a part for the Ford 8N 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 and 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 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.
This concerned me so much because there were very few parts on this model tractor that he should have easily seen how it went on. 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 began 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 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. I made a doctor’s appointment to try to figure out what was wrong. The doctor diagnosed him with dementia. I was not enlightened on this subject. I knew what Alzheimer’s was because my mom had it for the last 14 years and I was the one caring for her needs. This was something new. This was Dementia. He’s lost a lot of things. He lost his cognition, mechanical skills, and morel
He no longer can do any drafting. He forgot how to build. He’s unable to read many words, and it’s too dangerous for him to drive a car. His reflexes are slow and he can’t make decisions. No longer is he able to get keys in the locks, and never let him stay by himself for long unless I am at a neighbor where he knows how to find me.
It’s difficult for him to think of words, which makes conversation difficult, and his thoughts were not complete. 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 cantaloupes 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 their bodies start to break down and in the end they forget how to swallow so they don’t want to eat.
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 whole train of thought. There is not anything else to say. This is the ugly face of dementia.