Is Dementia Contagious Or Let’s Talk Genetics

A scary thought has started creeping in………………………… what if her disease is genetic? OK, there’s no family history that I know of, but still……………My mother never had a fighting chance……… she never knew she was sick…………. minus the “I can’t remember this or that” or “I don’t know where I put this or that” or the name game, “David, Lisa, Anita, Vilma, KATHY”………………. she never once said, “Maybe I have something. Maybe I have Alzheimer’s disease.”

Maybe she just didn’t want to go there……………………..

Unfortunately, a lot of people who develop frontotemporal dementia (or Pick’s disease) don’t even realize they have it. It is literally a thief in the night……………. that takes everything. The idea that something could ravage your grey matter without you even knowing is beyond frightening……………. Imagine, all of a sudden, the people around you — your own family — change. They treat you differently, begin to control everything around you, tell you that you can no longer perform tasks you once performed with ease, take away the keys………………. it’s the kind of plot line that only Hollywood could concoct……………. it’s not you; it’s them………………

My mother seemed oblivious that anything was wrong. Of course, when life had to change because of her disease, she would become incredulous, not understanding that we were trying to keep her (and everyone else) safe. Taking away the car keys was a total trauma………………. she could not understand why we would take away the keys. In her mind, she was a perfectly safe driver. And then she tried to buy a car for $1………….. That was, according to my mom, the deal she had negotiated for herself………………

$1.

That thought, that in my mind, I’m OK, but everyone else is clearly against me seems wholly unfathomable, a total nightmare………………. I’d like to think that I’m (mostly) logical about things, but to think that I may not be able to distinguish reality from dementia is beyond horrifying………. There are no words.

I’ve contemplated the idea of calling it a day should I ever face such a diagnosis…………….. After all, I’ve been in the belly of the beast and it’s not how I want to go out……………. dementia can be a gruesome disease; it’s frightening, tragic, you’re always in the dark trying to feel your way around, struggling for the familiar, grasping at something that’s really nothing…………….

The Catholic in me would never go through with it for fear of burning in Hell or coming back in my next life as a roach (that’s the yogini in me)……………….. still, the thought dances around my mind from time to time………………… and then I realized, what if I don’t even realize its wrapped its tentacles around my grey matter?

Scary stuff……………… scarier still is knowing that dementia is not in the news, it’s not part of the daily conversation, no one seems concerned that this disease is going to overwhelm our economy……….. NEWS FLASH: This is a costly disease……..long-term care can cost thousands and thousands of dollars per month..…….. Even more disturbing (or annoying), most people don’t even know that there are other forms of dementia besides Alzheimer’s disease………… and then there’s matter of diagnosing it. Correctly.

I have no idea how I would react to any kind of diagnosis like dementia……. if I’m even able to comprehend what the doctor says…………….. I remember my mom sitting there starring, even smiling at times, as the doctor said “Alzheimer’s” repeatedly…………………….

……………..she had no idea what the fates had in store for her.

>>Flickr pic by Meredith Farmer

5 Comments

  1. Thank you for all your writing. It’s almost as if my own thoughts are being journaled.

    My mother is 64 and has FTD. It’s just so overwhelming for everyone.

    Thank you very much and God bless you in all you do for your mom.

    xo

  2. Each time I leave my F i L I believe that dementia is contagious, but that’s because dealing with him fries my brain so much I lose my own faculties for a short while ;oP

    It’s a comfort that no genetic link has been found as it’s in both my, and my husband’s families.

  3. I think about this all the time. When my mom’s dementia began after her strokes, my dad left her. I’m constantly making sure that my husband won’t leave me should the same thing happen to me. My mom’s dementia was 5 years ago a month before my wedding (I was nearly 23, my mom nearly 58) and it is refreshing to see another young person dealing with similar problems. Thank you for your blog.

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