O’Fallon, Mo. man shares the challenges of caring for a loved one with dementia | St. Louis News Headlines

O’FALLON, Mo. (KMOV.com) – Norman Henderson scans images of the past on a Friday afternoon. They consist of lots of memories over the previous 50-plus years that he and his partner, Jan, have actually been wed.

His partner is now residing in an assisted living home. She was identified with Dementia about 4 years earlier.

“There were some traumatic things that happened,” stated Henderson. That included her losing her friend and looking after an ill mom. It was around that time he began seeing the signs. 

“She started seeing things in the middle of the night. She started seeing pictures on the ceiling, and hearing voices in the closet. At first, it was periodic. Then, it got worse,” he remembered.

For a year, they looked for responses. Till lastly, a neurologist at BJC identified her with dementia with Lewy bodies, a severe type of the illness. Nevertheless, they had responses, and might begin moving on.

“We got answers on why she was acting the way she was, and we also got involved with the Alzheimer’s Association. They sent us a case worker and a social worker,” Henderson said.

After a year of getting in-home healthcare, they found a nursing home was better fit to give her the 24-hour care she needed. Henderson might also begin to focus on his own health. He joined the Association’s men’s support group.

“For families, maybe they just got a diagnosis and they need help understanding what to do next and what plans they need to put in place to ensure high quality of life, or maybe the disease has progressed and they are experiencing new challenges,” stated Sarah Lovegreen, Vice-President of Programs for the Alzheimer’s Association of Greater Missouri.

Lovegreen stated education is key, especially in the earliest stages. 

“We educate on the 10 warning signs, so changes in short-term memory, memory or difficulty doing new things. Maybe they have difficulty doing very common tasks like finances, or cooking a favorite recipe,” Lovegreen stated.

Henderson advises others like him to reach out for support. “Talk to them and tell them your story, and they will listen,” he stated.

Jan’s disease is now in the moderate to severe stage, but he said time and assistance have helped in his healing. For now though, he continues to take it one day at a time.

“You take the good days with you. You leave the bad days there, but you have to learn how to deal with them and how to let go because it will eat you up,” Henderson stated.

The Alzheimer’s Association’s annual walk is Saturday, October 23. It’s one of their biggest events in assistance of their programs and other resources the company offers. 

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Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.