We Do It for Love


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.

Marlis describes herself as a “Gramma who loves technology and has a lot to say.” She blogs about whatever catches her interest: food, books, family and more. For AgingCare.com, she writes about the issues facing the elderly and her experiences caring for her husband, Charlie, who suffers from dementia.

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Thanks Michele. Looking forward to reading more blogs from you.
Marlis, the same happened with my mother. Her Vit D was very low, so her doctor put her on the 5-week megadose regime. I now give my mother one of the OTC Vitamin D3 gel pills every other day. Vit D3 builds up in fat tissue, so I don't want to give her too much. I figured one three times a week (MWF) would be good.

I read the article on Vit E and did the same thing you did. I started her on a daily dose -- the biggest I could find. The gel pill is large, though, so she protested after a few days. She also blamed the pill for some of her symptoms that she claimed were new (though she had been having these symptoms for a long time). I thought when I went to the store that I would get the smaller Vit E pills to give to her. I don't know if they will help, but they shouldn't hurt.

I know that we can't cure dementia now, but we can try to make it as easy as possible. Big hugs to you, caregiver sister Marlis.
It's funny the little things caregivers pay attention to. Who knows, but if it helps why not? I think we know more than the Drs. do. I do hope you had a lovely Valentines day.