Caretaker, Advocate For My Good Friend With Dementia

I have a very good friend, in whom I am seeing signs of early dementia.

This friend, we’ll call him, Jim is  younger than I am so the thought of dementia has really rocked my world!image2-18

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.

Caretaker Through Life, Advocate-Friends And Family

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!