Robert and Brenda Lugar

Woman with Dementia Gets Lots of Support

Robert and Brenda Lugar

In the three 1/2 years since Brenda Lugar was identified with dementia as a consequence of Lewy physique illness, she has discovered nice consolation within the individuals who need to make her life somewhat simpler.

This help takes many types. At church on Sunday mornings, Shirley at all times reminds Lugar of her title. When Lugar is writing an electronic mail, she is aware of it’s okay to textual content her buddy, Michele, or her sister-in-law, Janet, for assist discovering the best phrase. Lugar’s husband of 43 years, Robert Lugar, not too long ago purchased her a particular board for Christmas so she has a spot to work on her jigsaw puzzles – and he insisted she open it early and begin having fun with it now.

“Just that little thing – it meant a lot,” she mentioned in a current interview.

It’s frequent for people who find themselves grappling with the painful actuality of a dementia analysis to disclaim their situation or disguise it from others. But not Brenda. Asking for the help she wants – and getting it – is “soul cleansing,” she mentioned.

Lugar, who’s 62, didn’t arrive at this place instantly. When a neurologist at Duke University Medical Center identified her, her preliminary response was denial. “I said, ‘Oh you can cure me.’ He said, ‘I can’t cure you but I can slow it,’ ” she mentioned. “When he said that, I knew that wasn’t good. I kind of shut down.”

Lewy physique illness is a situation wherein irregular protein deposits within the mind could cause dementia. For Lugar, disclosing her illness provides her an odd sense of aid – it’s a proof to others for her reminiscence loss, her intermittent hallucinations about animals, and her uneven efficiency at work. “I had to tell people, because I wasn’t the same person,” she mentioned.

She even shared her situation with a retailer clerk to clarify her fumbling with the bank card reader. “If I tell them [and] if they have any decency in them, they’ll treat me better,” she mentioned.

Barbara Matchar, director of the Duke Dementia Family Support Program, which Lugar participates in, mentioned that folks like Lugar “who are open about their diagnosis often feel relieved.”

Lugar was identified in 2017 after she observed scary issues taking place to her at work. At the time, she held a demanding job as a program assistant for the Duke-Johnson & Johnson Nurse Leadership Program. As an integral a part of the fellowship program, she stored it on observe and processed the purposes to this system.

Suddenly, busy work days had been being punctuated by days wherein she didn’t know what she was presupposed to be doing. She would stare out her workplace window for hours. To make up for misplaced time, she’d work till midnight at house. “I would always strive for excellence, and I thought, ‘I’ve got to figure this out or I’m going to lose my job,’ ” mentioned Lugar, who went on incapacity after leaving Duke.

But the identical lady who skillfully juggled that demanding job has retained her problem-solving abilities. If she will get misplaced at Walmart, she calls her husband and tells him what aisle she’s in. If she will’t recall whether or not she brushed her enamel, she feels the bristles to see in the event that they’re moist. She has no actual sense of time, so she units a timer when she hops within the bathe.

People with dementia have greater than their share of heartbreaks. Lugar and her son are very shut, however she senses he has had a tough time accepting that she has Lewy physique illness. And she dreaded telling her dad and mom and prolonged household about it, as a result of they might fear.

One of her best comforts is her help group at Duke. They share their frequent experiences in common conferences, which have moved to Zoom throughout the pandemic. The group members are happy to say no matter they need and are reassured when the others nod in recognition of what the speaker goes by means of