Monday, December 1, 2014

Dementia Is Not Just Memory Loss

Tough day last couple of days. Could it be from the hustle and bustle of Thanksgiving? Could be.
Could it be from sundowners? Could be. Could it be another number of things? Could be.
That's the thing that happens with dementia. You never know why things happen, when they will happen, or how long these confusing bouts will last.
The thing I notice and I am sure that happens to your loved one is mental fatigue. I am mentally drained about 90% of the time. 
I liken it to doing something incredibly difficult, having about a dozen things on your mind at once, and not being able to decipher what is what. 
It's like doing a 5,000 piece puzzle constantly, without ever finishing it. Trying to find the pieces that fit, and can't.
Stress brings on a lot of the confusion. And with dementia you deal with stress 24/7. There is so much more to this disease than memory impairment. 
Memory impairment is a huge part of dementia, but that alone brings on a whole host of other problems within itself. 
I have battled with recognizing things for well over a year now. What ever it is I may be looking for, be a the tv remote, my wallet, keys, etc. They can be right in front of me and my brain doesn't allow me to recognize these items.
It doesn't happen constantly, but it does happen many times a day. And that of course causes stress.
Another thing that I have been dealing with is the loss of hunger. Most times I have no recollection of eating. When I ate last, what I ate, and if I even ate at all.
Whatever part of the brain that causes one to feel and know they hungry, has indeed been effected by this this disease in my case. I often wonder how many others are dealing with this also, yet unable to describe it to their loved ones?
You will hear that placing food on a red plate will help patients eat better. They can see their food better. This could very well be true. However, what gets me is I don't hear or read anything in these studies about a patient losing the ability to feel hungry.
And like I said, it happens to me so I am sure it happens to others. If you loved one has to be fed, think about this. A lot of times patients have trouble with their peripheral vision.
In other words they cannot see things to the sides. Some say it's like looking through binoculars. They can only see what is directly in front of them.
Now with this in mind, imagine your feeding your loved one and the only thing they can see is an object coming toward their face. That object being a fork or spoon, but to them it looks as though something, whatever, is about to poke them in the eye.
With these issues, the inability to feel hunger, coupled with peripheral vision issues, and the red plate theory goes out the window. The plate can be any color and the patient is not going to eat.
Again, I am not saying using a red plate will not work, what I am saying is there is much more that comes into play here. And rarely do you hear about the loss of hunger issues, or the not being able to see what is coming toward them when you are attempting to feed them.
I have been working on this post for some time this morning. Chances are it's all over the place. Matter of fact, I have no idea what I was bringing up to begin with.
It's the disease, it's always the disease. Many people hate to hear that, but it is indeed the truth. Dementia causes everything I do now. It effects my thinking process 24/7.
There are no time outs. There are no breaks. It is indeed the hardest thing one will ever encounter. The worst thing about having any type of dementia is that in the beginning and for a very long time the patient is well aware of what is happening to them.
Losing your mind is a horrible thing. Knowing it is happening is even worse...