We were sitting on the deck with Don and Edie, who had called and offered to bring supper over — we accepted and invited them to stay and eat with us.  I was making a point about something, but I had one of those lapses, when I couldn’t think of the right word to complete my sentence.  Mary Ann finished my sentence by adding the word.  This is the same Mary Ann who has had Parkinson’s for twenty-two years, who has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease Dementia and can hardly get an audible word out of her mouth.

Exactly who is it in this household who has memory problems? I certainly hope other Caregivers sometimes struggle with memory problems.  I would hate to think I am the only one.

A few weeks ago I was trying to remember the birthday of one of my brothers.  I knew it was sometime in the end of May and that my Sister-in-Law has a birthday near his.  I asked Mary Ann in one of those times when I was not anticipating an answer from her.  She said May 25th.  I assumed, since she has Dementia, I could not accept that as the final answer.  I called one of my Sisters.  Dick’s birthday is May 25th.

Why is it that sometimes Mary Ann’s memory is better than mine, and she is the one diagnosed with Dementia.  I wonder how many other Caregivers sometimes worry at just how often we forget stuff.  When the Caseworker comes by for the annual assessment visit, at a certain point he always gives her four words and asks her to remember them so that she can list them when he asks her again.  I am so grateful that he doesn’t ask me to repeat those words later in the conversation.  Of course I repeat the four words in my mind the entire time he is asking her other quesitons so that I can feel superior when I remember all four and she only gets two or three of them. If I had been forced to pay attention to the questions he was asking after listing the words I would not have had any hope of remembering the four words.

I recognize that stress can impact a person’s capacity to remember things.  I have used that rationalization a thousand times.  I understand that memory loss due to attention problems is a normal part of aging.  There is a unique character to the memory loss that is the result of Dementia, but I have forgotten what it is.

Actually, I just cheated and checked online to see if I could find something to help distinguish the normal memory loss due to aging and the memory loss that comes with dementia.  Forgetting how to do things that you have been doing for years is one.  Forgetting how to get someplace you have gone to often is another.  No longer being able to follow things that are done in steps, such as following a recipe is another.

One of the reasons that I have developed so many routines is that routines help me get things done that might be forgotten if the routine didn’t automatically lead me to do them.  I turn the medicine bottle upside down when I take my daily Synthroid so that I won’t take it a second time thinking I hadn’t yet done it.  I alway use the remote to lock the doors on the car rather than the button on the inside of the door.  That way I am far less likely to lock my keys in the car.  I have to have the fob in hand to lock them.  Of course, I keep a list of all the things I need to do.  If a new item comes to mind, I have to write it on the list immediately.

I guess I cannot know for sure if my memory loss is normal.  I think it is within a normal range.  I hope so!

I don’t think I am the only Caregiver who wonders sometimes if he/she is suffering from serious memory loss.  As Caregivers, we can see how devastating dementia can be.  When we can’t remember things, sometimes it scares us.  If we have a problem, who will care for our Loved One?

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