Caregiver for husband with dementia, writer
February is the month for love.
Those of us who are caring for our loved ones in various stages of dementia need to remind ourselves daily that the way we handle the trying experiences we are going through is just one more expression of love.
Sometimes it is almost impossible to believe that the things we do every day to keep our family member in the best condition possible have anything to do with love. It seems more like a burden that will tear us down and tear our families apart.
But someone has to do it – why not me? And we will do it because of love for the patient and love of ourselves. How can we love ourselves if we don't do everything possible to help someone who has meant so much to us and—in many instances—even gave us life?
That being said, I would like to share with you something that has happened recently with my love, Charlie.
As part of his last doctor's checkup, the doctor ordered blood work. The blood work showed that Charlie is extremely low in Vitamin D. The normal range for Vitamin D is 20-50. Charlie's test showed a Vitamin D level of 12.9.
It is not unusual for people who live in the northeast to have low Vitamin D levels, especially in the winter. But Charlie's was extremely low. Therefore, three weeks ago, the doctor prescribed a 50,000 unit capsule of Vitamin D2, to be taken once a week.
I have read reports that indicate Vitamin D levels can play a role in the development of dementia, but I have never read that high doses of Vitamin D can improve brain function in a person who already shows dementia symptoms.
But as I have watched Charlie during the past week, I began to notice something.
His mental acuity seems to be improving. He engages more with the people around him; he is more aware of the things that are happening on TV (Olympics), and he seems to have better recall about names and events that have occurred or are scheduled.
This past week a report came out about Vitamin E and the role it may play in the dementia process. Then there was a report on Omega 3 fish oil and its effect on people with dementia. Who knows? Maybe vitamins will turn out to be a major player in preventing the onset or improving the mental acuity of people with dementia.
I have begun keeping a log of the instances where Charlie has shown improvement and will share it with his doctor at his next visit. Like all of you, I may be grasping at straws, but that's all I have at this point.
In the meantime, I plan to continue to love and care for Charlie as long as it is physically and mentally possible for me to do so. I will know when things get to be too much and will turn the job over to the experts.
But for now, I expect to share a beautiful Valentine's Day with him. Fresh flowers always cheer him up – they aren't just for women you know.
I hope you do that something special for your loved one. Happy Valentine's Day.