We live in Katy and pretty much depend on ourselves to make the magic for my uncle Rojello.┬á He has a full time attendant that helps me during the day. Evenings we’re on our own, which makes it difficult for me to do things with my family, since it’s when they’re home. Up until 6 months ago, my uncle would be able to stay alone for a few hours but now, he’s more paranoid and fearful of the dark. His hallucinating has recently worsened too, so the dosage of his dementia medication was recently increased, which I think may be helping. It’s still too soon to notice.
My mother is a year younger than my uncle (her brother) and she still has a memory better than mine! Their parents died later in life and they too, had sharp minds until the end; their siblings did too. My uncle is the first case with this type of illness in our family. He’s lived with us 8 years and I’ve watched his mind go pretty fast. He’s very intelligent and I can see he feels badly and also very embarrassed that he can’t keep up with conversations (one on one or group).┬á His attention span is very short. He no longer can keep entertained with watching his favorite comedy shows on TV, which he loved! The Golden Girls was his favorite.
He does still have his sense of humor.┬á It seems as if he zones in and out — some days he’ll surprise us all by being quite sharp, but mostly he’s withdrawn and seems very lonely. He is still able to read short sentences but nothing much longer if it has a theme or storyline. He’s a retired school diagnostician and child psychologist. He dresses every morning still, as if he’s going to work — dress pants, shirt, & shoes. ┬áI’d rather he be comfortable with his Nike clothing and tennis shoes or sandals like he used to relax in.┬á It’s almost as if he’s fighting something within him, to believe he’s getting better health-wise and life will be back to normal. He knows he’s losing ground and is fighting it with all his might.
Not only me, but my entire world has learned more about the meaning of Tolerance and Appreciation. ┬áI cannot always follow through with my plans because I need to stay home to help my uncle feel safe. As his disease worsens, so do his fears and paranoia. My close friends have learned to accept this too, particularly when they cannot count on me as they used to. Even our pet dogs take care of him, sleeping by his bedroom door safeguarding him! ┬áMy uncle never liked nor did he ever have pet animals. His tolerance level has grown too. He looks forward to the joy of being around active puppies! He won’t touch them though:)
His male full time attendant is a Godsend. He serves as an advocate for my uncle when I forget to be considerate. My husband is very patient with my uncle too, and helps me care for him when I need to be away or when I have to tend to my art deadlines. My daughter, although he still gets excited to see her when she visits from college, still becomes very saddened that he does not have the attention span to communicate with her as before. It would be wonderful if he could guide her with creative teaching tips that are locked up in his intelligent mind. ┬áShe’s very proud, though, to have his invaluable book library to share with her as she embarks on her teaching career soon. His legacy will last forever with us — far beyond his presence here on earth will.
-Written by Sylvia Sierra as part of our Lessons Learned blog series