I have a very good friend, in whom I am seeing signs of early dementia.
What makes it so unbelievable is that I talk to him at least every other day, sometimes twice a day. And he visits me, or stops by, every 3-4 weeks, when he’s out shopping. If he find a sale on something that he know that I like, he’ll bring me some.
Unfortunately, I had not realized that I actually had not seen him in about 3 months.
The first sign came when a mutual friend, that sees him practically every Sunday for the “game” of the day, told me that Jim had loss over 45 pounds.
The very next day my son and I went to witness this unbelievable loss of 45 lb. over 2-3 months. To my shock, he had come from a healthy 6 1/2 Ft. giant of about 280 lb. and had actually loss at least 45 lb., possibly more. He looked old, thin and sickly. Understand, he is not a youngster, but he is 8 yrs. younger than I am. I am in my late 70’s while he is still in his late 60’s.
Keep in mind that this is someone that I have known, most of his life and spoke to at least every other day.
Jim was forgetful and confused his forgetfulness and confusion were obvious to anyone paying attention to his actions. When I think back on it, our phone conversations were kept short. Our goal was to keep in touch with each other, neither of us was “into anything” worth talking about.
When I questioned him and then his daughter, I found out that in addition to losing weight, his memory was not good and he had recently gotten lost while driving.
He was asked to pick up someone and got lost, could not find a very familiar street and had to just park and wait to be found.
To me this started just recently but I learned that he had complained to his doctor of memory loss, time loss and unsteady gait for 3 years.
Like I said, I would see him at least ever 3-4 weeks and he has always spend the holidays at my home, for years.
I had to try to make sense of all of this. One does not just develop dementia, out of the blue and overnight.
My husband suffered from Alzheimer’s, a form of dementia so I know what to look for. It was a gradual decline in mental and physical health.
The medical plan my friend was in required that he be referred, by his primary to a neurologist or any specialist.
Upon discussion with Jim’s daughter and reading medical papers that I found in his house, I learned that Jim’s problem started over 3 years ago. He had been hiding his problem from me and his family for all of this time. He did a good job.
I am not going to go into the medical plan that he has but I am changing his plan during this enrollment period between October 15 and November 15.
I can hardly wait until January 1, when I will be able to take him to a geriatric doctor that can help and understand his condition.
Dementia cannot be cured but there is a medicine that is given to dementia patients that can slow the disease down depending on the stage.
Meanwhile, we are waiting for a “referral” from a doctor to go to the doctor that will hopefully “refer” him to get help!
So we wait.
Advocacy is, or almost always is instinctive. You do what you have to do when you have to do it. I raised 3 children, 6 grandchildren I taught elementary school for 35 years. I was a fierce advocate for each child under my care.
- I taught, helped, advocated for them through their early years and even now that they are adults.
- I made decisions for them.
- I decided the doctor that would treat them,
- the school they would attend,
- the religion they practiced. I guided them as to
- the time they went to bed each night and
- the time they awoke in the morning.
Think about it, you are and have been an advocate throughout your life. You just never thought about it.
- Wasn’t that you that helped a friend accomplish a personal goal?
- Didn’t you accompany your children to the doctor when they had an ache?
- You may have even given someone some personal advice, advising a youngster to stay on the right track.
- Remember when you cheered a relative, peer or friend on to victory?
- Promoting independence and self –esteem in our children is a form of advocacy.
- If you were not at the right place and the right time to advocate for your friends and family, what might have happened? Who knows?
As you go through life, you become an advocate for many others. Sometimes you don’t even know it, but they do.
What do you think? What keeps you going? Share your strength!
You have certainly advocated for an elder person in your lifetime. Children and elders require the most care and we do for them without even thinking about it.
Didn’t you give a parent good advice about health matters? Did your elderly next door neighbor need some help one day and you happened to be the one to help her/him?–You’ve been a Senior Advocate!
Do you remember clarifying a letter or notice that an older person did not understand? Tell us about it.
People of all ages need help. It is up to the people around them, relatives, friends, spouses, Social Workers or sometimes Lawyers to be their champion, spokesperson, even their defender.
Did you step up to the plate when you were needed? Aren’t you a pro at taking care of others?–You’e been a Senior Advocate.
Are you one of the millions of advocates (caregivers) in this world?
You must advocate for yourself , that is take care of yourself so that you can take care of someone else.
Keep in mind that we are human and have limitations, as a result, we can only do as much as our own, human physical and mental health allows us to do. Being a caretaker will break you, if you let it.
Are you the “go to” person in your group? Does everyone seek your advice? Be proud of this position given to you by others but don’t allow yourself to be worn out”, “burned out”, or “fatigued”. Don’t allow yourself to get to the point that you feel you are being dumped upon, taken advantage of or are not being appreciated.
Give yourself some kind of physical and mental outlet. Be selfish, exercise, read a book, travel, even write a book. Take a day or an hour off. Most of all , don’t cut yourself off from the rest of the world. Talk to people. Share with others. As a caretaker you must “take care” of yourself.
Contribute to and keep up with this blog as often as you can. I’d like to think it will be one of the major methods that you will use to take care of yourself.