Tag Archives: Lewy Body

Dementia and Aging Aren’t Synonomous

25 Jun

I had my introduction to dementia on my uncle’s 91st birthday. He had been hospitalized and it was the first time I heard the term Lewy Body disease. Prior to his late 80s my uncle’s retirement years were anything but typical: at 65 he started a business and ran it quite successfully for well over 20 years. He read voraciously and could converse about complicated subjects with utter confidence.  He lived independently and his only health complaints were poor hearing and arthritic knees.

Looking back, signs of my uncle having dementia appeared long before that visit to the hospital. But I mistakenly believed those indicators were part and parcel with aging. I naively thought his increasing habit of repeating the same story over and over again was funny. It was only after he had several falls and started swearing at me that I suspected something more than normal aging was at play.

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Except for the Memories,We Fade Away

26 May

It has  been a year since we unveiled my uncle’s monument.  I am certain that both his life and his death following a four year struggle with Lewy Body disease have made me a better person. This is a look back at the time shortly after his passing in December, 2012.

My uncle before Lewy Body got to him.

My uncle before Lewy Body got to him.

Earlier today I got really emotional when I saw my uncle’s hand-writing on a document I had just been given. Why I could get so choked up over a set of initials in blue ink got me thinking about how quickly an ordinary person’s mark on this earth fades away after death. No matter how extraordinary that individual might be to us, the signs of their presence within the context of the greater world will inevitably become fainter and fainter with each passing day. So much so, that even the smallest reminders of a time before my uncle’s descent into dementia are reason to rejoice. Or in my case, tear up.

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Lewy Body, How I Hate Thee

22 Feb

In honor of my uncle and on the 1st anniversary of his passing…….

You may not have heard of Lewy Body Disease but next to Alzheimer’s it is the second most common type of dementia-related illness in North America.

Individuals with Lewy Body dementia can be paranoid as well as have hallucinations involving people, children, and animals. They are also likely to have tremors and walk with a shuffling gait similar to what you would see in someone who has Parkinson’s disease. It is difficult to diagnose and frequently mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease.

Uncle Leo, Uncle Benny, and Uncle Hy, circa 1956.

Uncle Leo, Uncle Benny, and Uncle Hy, circa 1956.

The three gentleman in this photo were my father’s brothers and my favorite uncles (the woman with them was my grandmother).  They’re all gone now.  Benny was diagnosed with Lewy Body disease at 91. But it’s possible he had it long before he became noticeably unwell. While Leo was previously diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s likely he really had Lewy Body disease too.  Leo died in 2011 two months shy of his 90th birthday. All but his last six weeks were spent at home with family.

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