About a year ago I started down a path I never considered I would be on. We moved my 84 year old mother into our home after my father’s sudden death and discovered she was on her own unexpected path of dementia. It’s hard to even write that word, it never comes out easily. We had her tested by a geriatric neurologist while she was still living on her own because we noticed her short term memory was becoming more and more unreliable. After lengthy testing the doctor pronounced, “She has age-related forgetfulness.” That diagnosis tested the limits of credibility as far as I was concerned. When my father died at 91, there was certainly no age-related forgetfulness on his part. On his death bed he drew me near and began to describe his scattered finances to me in great detail. No, my mother’s mental state was not mere forgetfulness, there was a significant cognitive impairment as well. It was not necessarily noticeable during a short visit or phone conversation–which is why it flew under my radar screen for so long. But after she moved in with us there was no denying she often failed to connect the dots in day to day conversation and activities.
This is our story of living with a loved one with dementia. It’s sometimes sad, sometimes funny, often surprising. Our household consists of my husband and me, a grown son and daughter who are independent, working adults, a boxer named Rocky, and my dear mother.