Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Hiding Dementia

Why do people hide the fact that they have Dementia?  Yes, in the early stages, only the patient may know of the diagnosis.  But, soon, the issues start to identify themselves.  Forgetfulness, not knowing where you are or where to turn when driving a familiar route, forgetting the names of people or pets that have been with you for years, agitation with yourself, and depression.

Maybe because I am well into my journey with LBD, but I can pick out someone with Dementia pretty quickly.  I see the telltale signs easily and quickly.  And, as I look back at my early stages before diagnosis, I can clearly see signs on my Dementia in things I did that were out of character and odd.  Like making a hat out of the agenda page at a Church Business Meeting and putting that hat on my head!

In any case, identifying yourself as a Dementia patient may case some employment issues but being honest allows your employer to make adjustments to your work environment, under the Americans With Disability Act, to keep you employed longer.  I know the GS 14 and GS 15 I worked for did everything to help me work as long as was practical.

I understand there may be some embarrassment or feelings of inadequacy, but, any Dementia is a disease, not a choice.  I believe dealing with LBD up front and in the open has helped me and my Wife.  Yes, it has caused some friends to withdraw.  Trust me, it is not contagious!  But, I also understand I can be hard to be around sometimes.  But I still believe honesty is the best option.

I bring this up because I play billiards with a gentleman that has some form of Dementia.  It is apparent!  Yet, he does not openly discuss his condition, so I cannot offer him the benefit of my journey.  I plan on asking him, in print, in the near future.  I believe we can both benefit from open communication.

In any case, if you see someone displaying Dementia symptoms, I recommend you treat them with respect and wait until they open up.

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