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Location: Boulder, Colorado, United States

I started out adult life as a documentary photographer and ended up as an executive assistant.

Friday, August 26, 2005

It's hard to start anywhere with this subject, because it's hard to know where and when it begins. Dementia defies description or classification at its onset. It could just be personality quirks or a slip of the tongue, a dropped book, or a forgotten errand. And then, even after a dementia has been diagnosed, it takes awhile to know which type of dementia is present. Some time after suspecting something is amiss, you know for sure where you are- in dementia land. After awhile, you don't really care where you are located in this mysterious place.

But I must explain something. I am the primary caregiver of a gentleman (my husband of many years) who is experiencing a dementia known as Lewy Body Disease after the doctor who isolated it as a dementia in its own right in relatively recent times.

There is information about dementias on the Internet; that is not what I want to convey. What I want to discuss are the social and emotional effects of the disease on the family and loved ones and the patient himself or herself. I think that there are many things that need to be shared. Loneliness, isolation, fatigue, and various other states are not exactly popular topics for discussion. As the saying goes, "Laugh and the World laughs with you; cry and you cry alone". I want to change that notion to something more normal and less depressing. Another saying, "There's a fine line between Tragedy and Comedy", is more to my liking. Dementia doesn't have to be a tragic end to a fading life.

My husband, for example, enjoys his hallucinations. He enjoys the many strange and convoluted language constructions that spout unheeded from his mouth. He likes reading the same mystery novel more than once. If he forgets that he's already eaten some chocolate he doesn't feel guilty about eating more. He enjoyed a recent wheelchair visit to the zoo with relatives with much more interest and enthusiasm than many of the children in strollers.

If we can find the humor in Dementia, maybe more people will pay attention to the condition. More and more people will be living with demented people in their midsts. We need a cartoon, something on the order of "Mr. Magoo" of yore (who was popular although seriously senile and not truly demented), a humorous outlet for expressing lovable though demented episodes such name it. Putting the pants on upside down, etc.

Sorry, I'll have to end here. My husband just turned up from his bath. More another time.


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