Dementia started sneaking up on my dad a few years ago. He repeated himself more often. He couldn’t take care of household fix-it jobs the way he used to. There were the unexplained “dings” in his truck.
His wife knew something was wrong, but none of the symptoms by themselves were alarming or distinct enough for doctors to take notice. Then a slight tremor in Dad’s right hand appeared, and finally, the pieces of the puzzle came together.
Parkinson’s Disease was the primary diagnosis but “mild cognitive impairment” (just shy of dementia) was there as well. Dad started taking medication for the Parkinson’s and went back to living life, as much as possible, as he always had.
Then came the fall.
Shortly before last Thanksgiving, Dad wanted a box from the attic space in his garage. He climbed a ladder, lost his balance, and fell to the concrete floor. He fractured his skull and snapped his left clavicle in two.
After two weeks in the hospital, some surgery to piece together his clavicle, and then more than a month in a skilled nursing facility, Dad recovered – remarkably well – from his physical injuries.
But the dementia, which had been sneaking up on him prior to the fall, didn’t bother to sneak around anymore. Confusion, repetitiveness, and impaired reasoning became pronounced.
Parkinson’s Disease started it. The brain injury from the fall possibly sped things along. And, on top of that, there’s correlation between dementia and the anesthesia and morphine used during and after surgery; so, that probably contributed to Dad’s decline too.
So, here we are, one year later, wondering what’s next.
Recently, I ran across a quotation from Winston Churchill:
“If you’re going through hell, keep going.”
The journey ahead with Parkinson’s and dementia isn’t likely to be pleasant – for Dad or for any of us – but, since we don’t have choice, I guess we’ll keep moving forward one step at a time.
God bless you all. Happy Thanksgiving.
And be extra careful around ladders.