Talk to your doctor. This can be terrifying, because we likely don’t want to hear the answer, but ignoring signs won’t make it go away. Doctors can test for things like infection that can cause confusion which can be treated. It could be dehydration which is dangerous and can be devastating to the aging brain.
The truth is, as scary as it seems, that you can’t face a challenge that you don’t know you need to face. No one wants to hear from their doctor that they have a dementia. But the reality is that with that knowledge, you likely still are in a place to advocate for what you want your future to look like, and those are things that you need to communicate while you are still in a position to do so.
This isn’t to say it’s all you should talk or think about, you should absolutely go on living your life. But giving your family and friends the opportunity to know your wishes will give them a gift so that they can advocate for you.
Your doctor will not be the best resource. They may have the strongest clinical background, and can work to help you understand what version of the disease you may have, but because this disease impacts each person so differently, we learn the most from each other and we gain the most support from each other.
The idea of touring a memory care may be scary, another completely normal reaction to the fear of the unknown. Going to visit these places before you actually need it though, can reduce stress, and be a wonderful resource of valuable information you might need as you consider the future. In addition, these settings have changed so much over the years (thank goodness) and they don’t look at all like you might imagine. You might be surprised. Tour more than one. Three or four. Don’t get lost in the sales person touring you, if you aren’t in a hurry, it can be much more casual and low pressure. You need to rip of the band aid though, and knowledge is power.
There are support groups in most communities. There are at least two here in Anacortes (one that’s been on hiatus with covid and one that is and has been meeting again.) These meetings can be so helpful. Even if you just want to observe. GO.
How to survive
• Take care of yourself first
• Ask for help
• Don’t be afraid to admit when you get in over your head
• Relax, breath deep and embrace the journey
The Lighthouse Keeper