The Reality Of Dementia

I'm sharing with you what is the emotional progression of a family dealing with Dementia. My father was diagnosed with FrontalTemporoDementia in late March of 2004 at the age of 60. This is from my point of view as his only son, who loves the man who raised him, as the condition, and Life, moves ahead.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Dealing With Dying

In my dad's passing, this is the closest I have ever been to a death. It is the heaviest weight I have ever carried, and the lightest of burdens to bear, as I have only love and respect for my dad.

His body is gone.
He is deceased, no longer on Earth.
He is biologically dead.
As a human form, he is no more.

I have to express these things as a way of real-izing them for myself. The last time I saw my dad was in September, prior to moving to Los Angeles. He was as he had been for a long time; gentle-eyed, slow to react, and stuck in that wheelchair. He was merely existing. It's a rotten way to watch somebody go. I don't really know how much of him was still there. He could react with a laugh/cry thing when something funny happened or somebody familiar was near by. But we do know that some of that kind and great man was still in there.

In his passing, my dad fought through a couple of illnesses in the last few weeks. Pneumonia weakened his system, causing very high fevers and breathing problems. The lack of oxygen led to angina. He may have had a mild heart attack. He was suffering, physically. We all hurt to know he was struggling. He deserved much better than this pain.

I last spoke to him on November 15th. My mom held the phone to his ear as his body fought for breath. I told him that i loved him, that I was so proud to be his son, that he was a great father, and that if he was ready, to go on Home. To go on to Heaven. That we'll always love him and we'll see him again. It is never enough, or correct, or timely, to say these things. But my dad, in his 65 years of life, lived with a compassion and love for others and life. And "The Time" had come.

I hung up with my mom and began sobbing harder than I ever have. I told my wife "My dad is dying, honey. He's really dying." We all knew it. Never would I have said it before, in case the mere breathing of the word "dying" would accelerate anything. We truly had him taken from us by the dementia over the past few years. And physically, now, he was dying. His spirit was about to soar, if it had not already been called Home to Heaven. I know that he heard me, regardless.

After hours of crying and planning for a trip home, I slept a bit. I had no dreams I can recall. My phone rang at 5a.m. It was my mom.

My dad, Gerald Embert Lott, Jr., had died.

A man of integrity, character, compassion, love, faith, and humor, had died. A good man. A great father and husband. A man of peace and friendship. They die, too. We all will. So... now what?

After talking with my mom, I felt a lightness. It was either a peace, or an elation, or a relief of a burden I carried. It was like a weight I forgot I had been toting around. Perhaps it was the question "When?" had now been answered. No more waiting. No more anticipation of a phone call that I dreaded knowing the subject of. My dad, now in Heaven, was free of the body that was felled by Dementia. Healed, whole, in the Presence of The Lord.

Knowing this is the greatest comfort I have. I believe we all share this, in my family, and those we know who knew and loved my dad. To know that right now, my dad's spirit has returned to The Glory, the place from which all Creation sprung, to be surrounded by his family from ages past, with his friends who preceded him, begins to erase the pain of missing him.

I want to begin focusing on THAT. On my father's spiritual reward now, I will rest my heart and my thoughts, in knowing he is standing tall, he is speaking with loved ones, he is the Greatest he has ever been. He IS, still.

Were it not for the love he and my mom showed us, the teaching and avenues they directed us towards, and the freedom to choose, I cannot tell you that I would be elated or peaceful. But my father is Home now. Where he wanted to go when this was enough for him.


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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Gerry Lott. My Dad, My Hero.

Geoff & His Dad, Gerry. Georgia, 1976

Thank you Dad.
For everything.
I love you more than I can ever tell you.
You were the best I could have hoped for, and greater than I deserved at times.

October 26, 1943 - November 16, 2008
That dash there, that was a hell of a great life.

If you would like to, please make a donation of any size to the Alzheimer's Association. As our Baby Boomers age, this organization's efforts will be more necessary than ever before.

Memorial Celebration Services will be this Saturday, November 22, 2208.

Maple Valley Presbyterian Church
22659 Sweeney Rd SE
Maple Valley, WA 98038

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Sunday, November 09, 2008

Update on Dad

The past few months have been a serious sea-change for the Lotts, Geoff & Alicia version.

As we prepared to move to Los Angeles, I struggled a lot with the thought of leaving my family and the only life I ever knew. Leaving my dad is especially hard, but there's so little I can do even if I'm in the next room. He's got great care at Rozi's, and he's close to family and friends. Overall, however, he does need some prayers.

Within the past few months he was having small seizures, and has been put on some meds to control them. This worried me, as it may be a sign of impending, larger problems. The other day he had a high fever and went to the hospital, diagnosed with pneumonia. This REALLY worried me, as he's not in a position to move around much. The thought of my dad suffering through illness at this point in his life is too much to fathom. We've all had "the talk" about "extraordinary efforts" that would, or would NOT, be taken in order to save our lives.

Many of the lessons I learned from my dad have been learned YEARS later, long after he was teaching them to me. About having goals, saving money, being compassionate, loyalty, and hard work. He was an example of all of these. In this time of his life I know he deserves these things from me, so it is hard to not be there to show him. However, I can, and do, and WILL, impart these daily.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

An Update On Dad

Thank you all for your concerns and asking after my dad, Gerry. Again I say, these are questions of true love and interest in him and us as his family, and it shows what kind of man he truly was, consistently, through all the years of his life.

He's always been Dad to me. Yes, he worked for 3 decades at Boeing. He had many roles in his life, from his love of ushering at our church to the landscaping of a lakefront near our home in Maple Valley. And through all of those times I wasn't around him, he was always the Good, funny, kind, caring Gerry Lott that I knew at home.

So, lately here's what's up with dad.
He's been at a place in the South Bellevue area for about a year. He's in a wheelchair now, much easier to get around with him, and we'll swing by and take him out for a wheeling 'round the neighborhood he's in. He can't speak to us, and it makes me wonder if the dreams I have of him, healthy and dressed in a suit, where he DOES speak to me about how he is doing are his way of talking to me, or just a delusion of mine that accept and embrace. I miss our conversations a LOT, especially as I swim wildly through the somewhat calm waters of my first years of marriage.

He gets to watch a lot of the Golf Channel, which I'll go watch with him while I chat about whatever's going on in my life. If something strikes him a certain way, he'll look as though he's about to cry, but that's common among some with dementia. It never progresses to crying, but it's as close to laughter as many can get. I know that crying and laughter can coincide, especially if you watch my early stand-up videos. Eeeeesh.

The fact that he's now much closer to us is great. Still I don't see him as much as I feel I should. It's now just about honoring him. I don't know if he can understand us, what he feels, nor what he wants to say. All I know is that I have a lot to apply in my life about how to always comport one's self.

Also, a big Thank You to Rozi and Mike at Rozi's home. She is the caregiver who watches over 4 residents, and has such a compassion and empathy and love for those in her care, she is really an angel in our world. Those who dedicate their life to the care of others, for the sake of seeing they get the care they deserve, surely hold a special place in the Ben & Jerry's Hall Of Names, and should have ice creams named after them.

Thanks for checkin' in!

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Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Safe, Effective Treatment for Mental Issues?

Part of all this writing I do is to get some knowledge out about my dad's disorder, and some possible ways to counter-act it.

By the time I had found a few natural options that may have helped, my dad was rather advanced in his dementia. It's an UGLY disease. The changes it puts your loved one or friend through aren't pleasant. And the amount of drugs that they could be on is just as harrowing.

I have more than a slight distrust in Big Pharma, because of how the past 2 decades have seen a rise in ADD and ADHD. Also, computers, cell phones, more news coverage, "Cop Rock," caffeine on every corner, and energy drinks (what are we staying awake for?), are more prevalent than ever. Big Pharma capitalized on all of it by screaming into the ears of the slightly tired "YOU HAVE A PROBLEM, HERE'S A PILL." Money money money money.

So I search for natural cures that cannot be patented.

If you have, had, or are most likely somebody who other people think has...

      • stress,
      • bipolar disorder,
        (manic depression),
      • ADHD and ADD,
      • depression,
      • alcoholism,
      • aggression,
      • Post Traumatic
        Stress Disorder (PTSD)
      • Alzheimer's
Then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE, look into LITHIUM OROTATE or LITHIUM ASPARTATE. It's a naturally occurring chemical that affects the chemical pathways of the brain's Frontal Lobes, where your personality and decision-making are held.

Lithium Carbonate is the one that is medically Rx'ed. This is natural, safe, and inexpensive.

Just worth a look, ya know? I'm going to see what it does for me.
For STRESS, I mean.

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Monday, October 22, 2007

A Realization of This Human Life

Yesterday afternoon my wife and I went to visit my dad.
His new home is much better for him to be at, the care he gets is superior and it feels much better to have him there.
As we sat with him and talked about Katie and Brian, their wedding, their forthcoming "blessed event," I started to realize how much more life we have to live, much of it without my dad. Not to sound morose or macabre, I pray that his life is as God will's it. But really, as my father lost his ability to communicate and move, we have lost most of my dad. It's sad, this condition. It's more brutal on the family of the person, as I'm sure there are people who have handled it with less aplomb and grace than we have. Not that we've been perfect, but our Faith and our Friends and our togetherness has really helped us through it all.

I realized something that really made me sad, also. My wife will not really get to meet my dad until we're all in Heaven. It made me think of how long she must go without really getting to talk to him and spend time with him. He would really love Alicia, and be very proud of her and the work she puts into being an incredible wife, and somebody who is really finding her spirituality.

In the meantime, we have begun looking at all of those necessary insurance options as couples, and Long Term Care is right there. I pray we will never need it, but if so, yep, we should get some. I pray that I will be healthy and Present well into my 80s or 90s. Gotta think positive.

In the meantime, thank you all for your prayers and well-wishes.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Dad's New Home, and the Toasting Of Nuptials

Recently my dad was moved to a smaller care home, a place that he can have more one-to-one care and access by caregivers. It's a house, not an apartment-like building, and immediately he has brightened up. He seems more peaceful and responsive. The last place he was in was unable to provide the kind of care we know he deserves, and it was causing too much worry. He needs a place to Live, not a place to simply Be.

He's about 30minutes closer to me and my fiancée and I, which is great. I'm able to go see him at a moment's notice, and it's not a 2 hour trip on a weekend. It's nice to just spend time with him and talk to him. At this time he is unable to speak, communicating mostly with facial gestures and grabbing our hands. He is still there, though. His spirit pushes him, and each of us, forward.

As I near my wedding day on Feb. 24th I really want a way to honor my dad. My mom made a great point in that my dad would want that day to be about my fiancee and I, not about him or anything external. I realized that's true, and so I will write a short piece into my toast and welcoming of guests that will reflect upon him as much as it reflects on everyone who comes.

And at this time I am really missing him more than ever, wishing he would be there to celebrate and share that day with me. We're planning a small re-wedding ceremony at his new place also, to have him be part of us getting married. That was entirely my fiancee's idea. That's a big reason why I am very happy, excited, and lucky to be marrying her.

More to come! Thanks for your prayers and well-wishes.

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