Davis Enterprise: Living with dementia: Disease takes an enormous personal and societal toll

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As time marched on, my father not only became forgetful, but talked a lot of nonsense, remembering things that never happened. Always an assertive, strong-willed and proud man, he paradoxically grew more docile. The confused fellow was extremely frightened of what was happening to him.

Of course, he came to be exceptionally dependent on my mother, his wife of more than 50 years and in her 80s. She chose to be his caregiver, stubbornly determined he would never be placed in a nursing home. After a while he could no longer feed himself and became incontinent. Adult diapers were utilized, as well as water-proof pads wherever he sat or lay. Walking became more difficult and then impossible. Because he would try to wander, falling out of his wheelchair or bed, my father had to be watched at all times.

One night as my dad tried to climb out of bed he hit his head and had to be taken to the emergency room to stitch up a severe gash on his forehead. It caused my mom a great deal of consternation. It now fell to my long-suffering mother and brother to take care of my dad’s ever-increasing needs — needs that demanded assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, without respite.

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