Front-Temporal Dementia: Losing your humanity before your life.
She used to be a librarian. She wore business suits to work every day. She never left home without her panty-hose or her make-up.
Hope for the Hopeless
She moved to be closer to family 18 months ago. Mrs. U and Mr. U lived independently for 70 years together, but at the age of 94, Mr. U was falling and needed more help from family. So they packed up and moved closer to their son. Mr. U continued to have the same problems: heart failure, COPD, frequent falls. Initially, things were pretty much the same. They lived in assisted living and there were meals provided, medications given, social activities to attend. Mr. U enjoyed Bridge and Mrs. U watched and chatted. Mr. U still had frequent visits to the local hospital, and with each one, he was a bit more frail. Mrs. U was less able to care for him. They stopped attending social events & Mrs. U started to have more health problems of her own. It started with a short hospitalization for an infection. She had increased confusion during that hospitalization and there was initial concern she might not be safe to go back home. She was given a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and started on some medication. She was told “you are doing great”. She went back to the assisted living facility that she shared with Mr. U (when he was not in the hospital). She no longer wanted to attend meals at the shared dining hall. She previously walked the halls passing the menus, and now could hardly find the energy to get out of bed. She had dizziness with standing. She had twelve medications when she previously was on three. She stopped coming to her son’s for dinner.
Mrs. U’s son was quite concerned and brought her to the geriatrician. Her answers to questions were quite simple.
“What do you feel like is going on with your memory?”
“I am becoming nothing. Everyone keeps telling me that I am doing well, but I am becoming nothing. Please help me.”
“Do you feel you might be depressed?”
“Do you feel sad more days than not?”
“Do you feel worthless?”
“Yes. I can’t even get to Mr. U when he needs me.”
“Do you feel satisfied with your life?”
“No. I am becoming nothing.”
Mrs. U scored nearly perfect on her memory test. Her medications were simplified with discontinuing five of them. She was started on anti-depressant and before she left, she smiled a hopeful smile. Time will tell if this regimen will work, but the simple thought that something might help already seemed to have a positive impact.