You finally convince your spouse to go to the doctor with you. He's only in his late 60s, but lately he's been forgetting where his car keys are, losing words and getting lost when he goes out alone. You've been worried for a while, so you're relieved your spouse is willing to see a professional.
The doctor, a neurologist, is a tall, distinguished researcher in his late 50s. He wears a long, starched white lab coat and sits behind his cluttered desk. He tells your husband to remember three things: a ball, a toothbrush and a pen. You memorize them, hoping your brain is still working. Then he asks your husband to subtract seven from 100 and continue subtracting sevens down to zero if he can. Your husband says,"93, 82." What? You sit up straighter and try not to blurt "93, 86." Your husband was a math major in high school and studied engineering in college. He taught you calculus, but all of a sudden he doesn't know 93 minus seven is 86?
You start thinking about how you've been in denial about his dropping things and tripping around the house. Your husband can't remember the three things he was supposed to remember 10 minutes ago. You're glad you can, but your heart is beating too fast.
Finally the doctor looks sadly at you both and says to your husband: "I think you have dementia."
You say: "What can we do? Is there any medication that will ease the symptoms?"
His head is bowed as he starts writing on his prescription pad. "I'll give him two medicines, but honestly they won't do much good." You wish he wouldn't be so straightforward. It's painful.
You want to batter the doctor with questions because you know your husband has been given a death sentence, just like his father before him. You really want to yell: "No, God! Help us!" His father died after five intense years of suffering.
At this point, if you are to remain sane and emotionally strong, you must take a deep breath and not believe that you too have been given a death sentence.
Read the rest, including five ways to keep yourself on track, at Huffington Post Healthy Living.
Thanks as usual to Gina Misiroglu of Red Room for putting me in touch with the Huffington Post people. It’s just one of the great ways she's bringing traffic to Red Room and getting attention for Red Room's authors.