Friday, February 7, 2014

Do what you can while you still can

"I want my loved one back." How many times have we heard this? How many times have we said this?

They too want to be back, have things the way they used to be. I don't know when it happens. And it has to be different with every patient, but there is a day that this no longer applies.

When that day comes, everything changes. It already has changed from the start of the diagnosis. But when the day comes they no longer recognize you, it is pretty apparent that they no longer know where they are, who they are, and their need for things to go back to normal is gone.

I have said many times I think I am in the mid-stage of this disease. I don't know this, no one does. But I still can function. I can still most of the time carry on a conversation, and even drive. Contrary to what people who never met me who think I should not be driving.

I drive about once a week. Always local, within ten miles at most. And I have never gotten lost. This is because I have lived in this community my entire life.

I do however forget where I was going at times, and what I was wanting to do, but this in no way hinders my ability to drive.

Many times people want to lump all patients in a group. If you have dementia you can't possibly drive. That is not only wrong, but it indeed is a form of discrimination.

There is not in Ohio a special test I should take to be able to drive. I take the same one everyone else does. To put us all in one category and say, these people cannot drive cause they were diagnosed with dementia cannot be done.

Many times I have been told that no one would know I have dementia if I didn't tell them. Yet, by some your ability to drive ceases upon diagnosis.

It is up to the family/caregivers to make these decisions. If indeed the patient can not. I think I will well know in advance I should not be driving, but again, that is what I think now, today.

We do lose our cognitive abilities. But I know what a stop sign means. I know what a speed limit sign means. I know when I can turn right at a red light...

All these things and many more are in my long term memory. This of course will change in time.

But don't deprive any patient of things they can still do. There will be day when you want your loved one back. And there will be a day when we don't even know who we are, let alone anyone else.

Take what time you have and make the best of it. We were told to do anything and everything we wanted to do. Now. Do not hesitate. We were told this by the Alzheimer Association.

They know there is no time table on how fast this disease will progress. So do what you can, while you can.

And if we patients mess up, and do something we should not have, as long as no one was hurt, we didn't hurt ourselves, does it really matter?

We don't do things to purposely get under our loved ones skins. We do things cause we have a brain disease. And some of us are far worse off than others. But we all in the end will reach our final stage.

Don't wait till then, don't let today get away with you. Do what you can with your loved one. "While They Still Can..."