Checking Myself

Have you ever caught yourself struggling to find a word that you know you know?  Trying to find something you just know you put down someplace obvious?  Trying to remember what it was you were going to do next?  Retracing your steps while looking for something to jog your memory?

I think we all do things like this.  We try to multi-task but our brains are not good at multi-tasking.  Our brains switch from one task getting nearly 100% of our attention to another so quickly and with such agility that we think we're multi-tasking.  Sometimes, I think we're juggling so many things that we forget one and it takes us a minute to re-orient ourselves.

When you have a loved one with early-onset dementia, you start to question these normal and very minor lapses and quietly worry if they're a precursor of things to come.  I find myself asking if I've told someone a story before.  Before Lyn's diagnosis, I would have just repeated the story without wondering if I've told it.  We've got so many stories in us, it is easy to find ourselves repeating them.  I pause a little longer now if I'm searching for a word.  It is not that I don't have a word; I have many.  It is that I'm searching for the right word and I know I know it.  There are times when "ameliorate" really is the right word, for example, and a synonym will not suffice.  Now, when I'm looking for the word and it is not at the tip of my tongue,  my slightly extended pause is a result of me checking my self.  It is a momentary "Am I still OK?"

It may sound silly, but you wonder.  Well, I do.  It is a small voice inside; but right now, it is one of which I'm aware.  I wonder sometimes if I'm going to face dementia and if I have to, am I going to experience it sooner or later.

I look at my family history and see where dementia, probably Alzheimer's disease, was evident in the senior most members of the family in the last few years of their lives.  I look and I see that the majority of the family live long and productive lives with tremendous mental clarity until their 80's or 90's.  These things reassure me.

Then I look at Lyn.  She's my sister, my full sister; not a half sister nor a sister through adoption.  Genetically, we come from the same stock.  Does that mean anything?  Will that have a bearing?  Lyn does not have Down's Syndrome and was, presumably, at the same risk for early on-set dementia as the rest of the general population.  She has it at 41.  What does this mean for me?

Honestly?  Nothing.  My sister's diagnosis really doesn't mean much for my own future.  Lyn had Sundowner's for years before the dementia diagnosis.  I don't have any symptoms of Sundowner's.  I'm perfectly comfortable being out of my environment in the evening.  My mental lapses are normal and can be attributed to all the normal causes; too much multi-tasking, stress, motherhood, a day or two lapse in my thyroid medication or lack of sleep.

In a recent visit to my own physician, I raised the issue.  I briefly explained about Lyn and her diagnosis.  I asked if early on-set dementia was something that my brother and I should be concerned about.  The doctor actually advised against seeing a neurologist or taking any action in connection with being evaluated unless we were specifically symptomatic.  The doctor reasoned that the bad part of dementia is that we wouldn't show indicators unless it was well underway and then what could we do?  Did we want to live our futures always wondering if the evaluation was accurate or if it missed something?  I'm not sure that not having an evaluation won't leave us checking ourselves, however.


  1. Please, this is NOT SOMETING you need to loose sleep over, you're too busy. We just need to be "aware" of all this. By the time your children are grown you'll be "wifty" just from that. love you

  2. Thanks, Mom. It is not so much of a worry; just an awareness, really. I figure that if I have these thoughts others may as well.


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