GRAND Magazine - July/August 2019 - 27

caring for our parents and other loved ones

Nobody ever told me:
Lessons from a dementia care partner
BY LINDA L. OSMUNDSON

A

7 am call woke me. "Bob had a fall and
didn't call for help. He's okay." My husband resided at a memory care facility.
He fell often, i.e. one of the reasons for his
admittance.
At my noon visit, I showed him his alert
button and reminded him to use it. He
responded in the clearest voice I'd heard in
months, "You forgot, I have dementia."
Believe me, I hadn't forgotten! Bob was
diagnosed with Frontotemporal dementia
in 2012, yet an MRI showed few signs of the
disease. Unfortunately, dementia can only be
truly diagnosed with an autopsy.
Suddenly, I was thrown into care partnering
with no preparation. It reminded me of the
little training I received for parenting. I read
lots of books about having a baby. And, our
son came out backwards - breech. Would my
dementia research turn up similar results?
I Googled other forms of dementia besides
Alzheimer's. Bob drank heavily, especially
after he retired. I thought perhaps he had
Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome. Not many of
the symptoms matched him.
27 GRAND

JULY-AUG 2019

He had quadruple heart bypass at the age
of 56. Perhaps he had Vascular dementia.
Those symptoms didn't quite fit either.
Many people suffer from Mixed dementia.
He could fit several symptoms from various
dementias. Not very encouraging.
I ruled out Dementia with Lewy bodies
(DLB) since he suffered no hallucinations.
After a neurologist visit, the doctor regretted his lack of a real diagnosis. That night
he called and told me to Google "PSP," the
acronym for Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.
It is a Frontotemporal dementia sometimes
connected to Parkinson's disease, or considered a brain disease. Most of the symptoms
matched - lack of cognition and muscle control, memory loss, inability to talk clearly or
recall the proper words and choking. So, my
care partnering commenced.

"

After three car accidents,
the state required he
take a driving test.
Continued on next page


https://www.facebook.com/GRANDmagazine/ https://www.twitter.com/grandMmagazine https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/vascular-dementia/symptoms-causes/syc-20378793 https://www.alz.org/dementia/types-of-dementia.asp#mixed https://www.alz.org/dementia/types-of-dementia.asp#dlb https://www.alz.org/dementia/types-of-dementia.asp#dlb https://www.alz.org/dementia/types-of-dementia.asp#frontotemporal https://www.theaftd.org/what-is-ftd/ftd-disorders/progressive-supranuclear-palsy/ https://www.alz.org/dementia/types-of-dementia.asp#wernicke-korsakoff

GRAND Magazine - July/August 2019

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