Dementia wears many hats | Sampson Independent

Henderson –

Dementia is an umbrella term and has 85-90 different conditions. The number one condition of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, then Vascular Dementia, Lewy Body Dementia and Fronto-Temporal Lobe Dementia.

Alzheimer’s disease is recognized as the following: *new information is lost, *recent memory gets worse, *problems finding words, *mis-speaks, *more impulsive or decisive, *gets lost, *the family will notice changes over six months to a year. Vascular (Multi-infarct) Dementia is recognized as the following: *sudden changes, *can have bad days and bounce back, *fudgement and behavior are not the same, *they will have spotty losses, *emotional and energy shifts. Lewy Body Dementia is recognized as the following: movement problems, falls, *visual Hallucinations, *fine motor problems (hands and swallowing), *episodes of rigidity and syncopy, *nightmares, *fluctuations in abilities, *drug responses can be extreme and strange. Frontal –Temporal is recognized as the following: (There are many types) *frontal — impulse and behavior control loss, they will say unexpected, rude, mean, odd things to others. They will be dis-inhibited — food, drink, sex, emotions, and actions. *Temporal — They will experience language loss, they will not be able to speak or get words out, they can’t understand what is said, sound fluent — nonsense words. The above information was provided by Melanie Bunn she is a Dementia Care and Training Specialist. Dementia is complex, it is not easy to analyze.

My aunt Matel R. Vaill lived with Alzheimer’s disease for about 10 years. She was an amazing person. She was raised on a small farm in Sampson County and was the first in her family to obtain a college degree. She furthered her education by securing a master’s degree from East Carolina University. Aunt Matel taught school for 35 years. After she retired her life was full and complete! She played Bridge weekly, visited the sick and shut-ins, led a circle group in her church and enjoyed her grandchildren. Her family noticed some changes in her when she was about 75 years old.

One specific indication that something was amiss is when she could not remember how to get back home after going into town one day. You see she had lived in Pinehurst for the past 50 years. This seemed very odd to the family and then they started noticing other things. Aunt Matel began miss placing things in her well organized cabinets. My cousin shared with me the family was in denial, they thought this was just old age setting in and most of the time she was fine in the beginning. Her family did not want to recognize that something, not just old age was going on. After a true diagnosis was given, the family came together to provide the best care possible for their mother. Aunt Matel passed away Jan. 9, 2017. When a person lives with Alzheimer’s disease the family lives with it as well. Here, this well educated women, wife, mother and grandmother was the same person, but different. It is heart-wrenching to watch a loved one live with this disease. To see them over a course of time become withered, when they once were so strong and essential. My cousin also shared with me that Aunt Matel knew herself something was off course and she began to write a journal about her life. This journal is a cherished possession of the family.

When you are in the position of being a family caregiver you really learn a lot. You may learn you are not cut out to be a caregiver, you may learn to say no to actions that may not work well for your loved one. You may learn the cost of care can be overwhelming and great caregivers are to be exalted.

Stay in touch, I did not want you to miss out on vital information that will help you be the best you can be as a family caregiver. Please join me on the second Tuesday of each month at 2 p.m. for our Dementia Education/Alzheimer’s Support Group. We meet at the Sampson County Department of Aging. You can contact me by calling 910-592-4653 or email [email protected] Hope you have a “Best Day Ever”!


Lesia Henderson is an aging specialist with the Sampson County Department of Aging.