One Year Ago

Today marks one year from the day that my sweet mom departed from this world. Shortly after sundown on December 14, 2014, and surrounded by her loved ones, mom caught the evening train skyward and traversed the surly bonds of Alzheimer’s.

Mom had suffered with Dementia for the last five years of her life. Initially, mom was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia, later after additional diagnostic testing the diagnosis was Alzheimer’s Dementia. The symptoms overlap which adds to the confusion, but the progression is similar. More than likely the disease had begun its assault much earlier than her diagnosis would suggest, as is often the case. Mom’s dementia was second generation. Her mom also died from AD so she was acutely aware of the symptoms. Fear can breed denial, and I believe mom became adept at masking the symptoms, that is until she couldn’t, and then the red flags began to appear. That is when our second journey with AD commenced.

Shortly after mom died I began a memoir that I hope to someday finish. This story depicts the tale of two journeys trekking the rugged terrain of AD. The terminus is the same, as it is for all of us, but the odyssey of these two souls as they advanced toward that summit is remarkably different. And that difference, in my experience, lies in the ability to reach through the fog and connect with that person wherever they are at that moment, and, allowing them through your patience and calm, to reach through to you.

Dementia is a big umbrella which houses its many types. Alzheimer’s Dementia is the most common, followed by Vascular Dementia, Lewy Bodies Dementia, Mixed Dementia, etc,. They all may progress, and present their symptoms slightly different, but the cognitive function loss caused by physical changes in the brain is the universal manifestation, and that loss reaches across every race, religion, and socio-economic class. The aftermath of a diagnosis of Dementia is much like the raging waters after a dam breaks, covering everything beneath it and affecting everyone in its path.

My intention with this blog is to reach out and provide hope to everyone on that path wherever that might be. As I write today, there is no cure, but there is hope. Hope for a cure, certainly, but equally important is hope in the form of how we rediscover the person behind that impaired mainframe, that soul that still resides and resonates deep within the damaged walls of Dementia. Support is paramount to living successfully with Dementia, and support comes in many forms. I encourage everyone to share your stories, your pictures, your prayers and your hope in supporting all of us who are or have been affected by Dementia!

Happy 1st BD in heaven mom! Your undiminished soul lives on!!!

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16 Responses to One Year Ago

  1. Steve Benz says:

    In my experience walking with you in your path with your beautiful mom, I wish I would have engaged in sites such as this to better understand your journey. This is awesome and so many will appreciate the forum for support and information.

    • mare@undiminishedbydementia.com says:

      You were and continue to be my biggest support and fan. You walked mom’s journey right alongside of me! ❤️U

  2. Drew Benz says:

    This is incredible, and I couldn’t imagine a more compassionate and empathetic person to aid others in their family member’s journeys with AD. Meema would be proud, and so are we. Love you Mom!

  3. Ryan Benz says:

    Alzheimer’s Dementia is a very painful way to lose a loved one. It’s a long degenerative process that effects the whole family. Memaw was the strongest and sweetest lady that I had ever known, so the last few years were very tough; seeing her mind grow younger as we all grew older. Our family lived for the glimpses of clarity that Memaw would show, where for a moment it was as if she wasn’t aflicted at all. I believe that was God. Seeing our mother dedicate herself to Memaw was very powerful for my wife, my brother’s & me. In today’s society that’s something you take for granted. I’ll never forget Memaw or the impact that her struggle with Alzheimer’s Dementia made on our family. I hope that this forum serves to provide others with a means to share their own personal experiences as well.

    • mare@undiminishedbydementia.com says:

      Thanks Ryan! Dementia cascades, and I saw the struggle in all of you. That is why it is so important to find the hope when living with Dementia, otherwise the situation feels hopeless. Those glimpses of cognizance were mom, still there under all of those layers, breaking through!
      In mom’s final hours, when you walked into the room, and she asked you where you had been, she remembered you, her handsome and faithful grandson, and missed your presence! Thanks for your support! ❤️U

  4. Karen Naber says:

    What a tribute to a beautiful woman from her strong and devoted daughter. Even from a distance it was apparent that your love and tender care for Pat kept her life full of purpose for far longer than anyone could have anticipated. Your faith, ability to listen with your whole heart, and an unyielding belief in the human spirit make you an excellent source for others in this challenging journey. I am so proud to call you sister and pray that others seek your gift of healing.

    • mare@undiminishedbydementia.com says:

      Thanks Karen!! You brought up another topic on purpose and value which are vital not only to Dementia patients, but to all of us in life. I firmly believe, and I witnessed that when mom felt like she added value, even in small daily tasks, it improved her disposition, which improved the atmosphere, and that in turn improved everyone’s quality of life!!
      Thanks for following and your support! Love you too sister❤️

  5. Becky Beloin says:

    Beautifully written, Aunt Mare. Grandma was an amazing and strong woman whose feisty character still shine through until her final days. It’s wonderful that you have started a forum for others to find hope and comfort as they support loved ones struggling with dementia. Love you!

  6. Charlyn says:

    Well written Mare. I hope your blog elicits others to share, learn and maybe lighten others journeys experiencing similar situations. Would Mom would visit in the beginning stages of Dementia, I remember being surprised by Mike’s reaction. Laid back Mike would get agitated: watching a football game with Mom “NO Mom you did not go to a Super Bowl with Dad”; or just walking on the beach “NO mom you did not Parachute with Pres. Bush”. When I saw a glimpse of Mike coming to terms with the situation was at a gift shop in St. Augustine as Mom was telling another couple how she rode Secretariat in a horse race and the man was questioning her and Mike stepped in and backed her up with a gesture as good as a wink to the couple.
    Six years later, when his keys are lost yet again or the glasses positioned on top of his head are LOST, I wonder, will he get “it” will I? How will it present itself? IF it is him I know he hopes that I will just like you Marianne……. loving, caring and a safe and warm place to be.

    • mare@undiminishedbydementia.com says:

      You touch on a couple different issues Char, and they are in and of themselves discussion worthy. I remember how mom and Ma embellished stories, some were subtle variations, and others were downright bizarre fabrications. I remember Ma’s doctor telling mom at the time to just go with it. I did have an advantage over Mike in that I was still home when mom was dealing with Ma, which really helped me in how I handled these situations with mom. And as far as wondering if we will develop Dementia, which I personally don’t think you have anything to worry about…I do have a post coming entitled “Am I next”. Thanks for following sister❤️

  7. Janice says:

    Thank you for opening your heart Mare and sharing the love you have for your Mom. It will help those of us who have yet to experience a loved one who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s better understand the depth of this disease. I look forward to reading more. Love you my friend. xoxo

    • mare@undiminishedbydementia.com says:

      Thanks Janice! Hopefully you never have to experience Dementia within your immediate family, but if you do you have a great resource in your friend here! Love you back❤️

  8. Yara says:

    Thank you for sharing, I am sure your mom is looking at you proud from heaven!😊

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