Last week I wrote that I had lost my brother after several years of fighting back from open heart surgery from which he never quite recovered. This past weekend I attended a beautiful memorial service in Birmingham led by The Rev. Dr. Dixon Mitchell, one of my brother’s hunting buddies going back forty plus years. He did a marvelous job of honoring the Lord while personally eulogizing my brother from his very unique vantage point.
After the service I renewed acquaintances with lots of my brother’s friends but I made it a point to spend extra time with the wife of the doctor who was instrumental in saving my father’s life back in 1985.
My father, who was living in Perry at the time , was having severe abdominal issues and had gone to several doctors trying in vain to determine the cause. My brother encouraged dad to come visit his close friend Dr. Sean* in Birmingham for another opinion. And after a rather simple abdominal examination Dr. Sean correctly diagnosed the problem as a malignant tumor the size of a grapefruit and arranged for its surgical removal almost immediately.
Fortunately, the tumor had not metastasized to other organs and the removal was clean such that dad didn’t even require post operative chemo or radiation! We were all so thankful for Dr. Sean at the time; he gave us our dad back for six more wonderful and healthy years.
But where was Dr. Sean last week? Unfortunately, he has succumbed to vascular dementia. He is in a nice institution because his wife is not able to care for him herself. She still loves him dearly and goes to visit him every day.
Vascular dementia is dementia caused by problems in the supply of blood to the brain. It is no respecter of persons. Brilliant doctors, like Dr. Sean are just as susceptible to it as you and I. I thanked her again for her husband’s role in saving dad’s life.
Here are the 7 stages of Dementia (From WebMD):
The patient experiences no signs or symptoms
A patient with very mild symptoms misplaces items and becomes somewhat forgetful.
Forgetfulness in the mild stage is slightly more pronounced. Although an individual can function independently, he can lose concentration, become confused while driving and experience some memory loss from time to time.
An individual with moderate vascular dementia has more trouble doing routine items, can become incontinent and forgets things more often
The fifth stage of dementia is where an individual requires some assistance because of increased memory loss, making it easy for him to forget personal information such as a home address or location.
Severe dementia requires regular care giving because the patient can become easily lost and forget family names. He can also experience behavioral changes.
The final stage of the disease is very severe. The patient loses muscle coordination and skills such as speaking, eating and movement.
If you have loved ones who are exhibiting one or more of these symptoms, arrange for a thorough medical examination sooner rather than later because you will certainly need help in developing and carrying out a care plan.
Thanks for reading All About Seniors…..see you next week!
* Not his real name to respect privacy.