Sunday, August 22, 2010

When "Buck" was a calf.....

Covered Bridge in Tannehill Valley

Another one of WB's famous sayings that we have picked up over the years. 'When Buck was a calf' to Bill is a LONG TIME AGO. And, a long time ago is what he remembers best.

Alzheimer's disease causes memory impairments from the early stages, probably because of cell death in the basal forebrain, an area that produces the chemical acetylcholine which facilitates plasticity (learning). Recent memories tend to be poorly remembered, while there may be good memory for long-ago events.  In early Alzheimer's disease, the condition causes problems with storage of new memories; old memories will remain intact and can still be retrieved at this stage in the disease. As Alzheimer's disease progresses, though, even old memories become difficult to retrieve. 

Its as if he can pull from his memory decades ago, back to childhood, early work memories, kids when they were all younger, trips we took many, many years ago. But, when I ask him to go out back and pick the tomatoes, he may come back in two or three times and ask, "what was it you asked me to do?" Think of it like a computer's memory bank and the memories or RAM stored and used the longest, seem to be the easiest to come forward.

WB is prescribed an Exelon patch, which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for mild-to-moderate Alzheimer's. It does not overcome the disease but may compensate for loss of functioning brain cells and assist cognitive functions such as short-term memory. 

There were two significant times yesterday when this happened. First, he actually recognized a woman who handled his banking some 30 years ago or longer and then on the way back from Tannehill he grabbed my arm and said, "Stop!, My daddy build that bridge and I helped him when I was 18 years old." Later, I researched the bridge and found that it was actually built in 1972, which would have made WB about 10 years older than that. Nonetheless, I was still impressed.

'Round these parts, that is a pretty famous 45-foot stinger bridge. I had always heard about it, heard that Brantleys had built it for the Parker family back in the day, but after stopping I learned more. His memory bank 30-40 years ago on most subject matter detail is pretty impressive. 

Then, after getting home, he had issues remembering how we like the cantaloupe pealed and sliced for the fridge. Then later, he had a hard time using the knife to cut his meat. This morning, he will not remember how to prepare his coffee as he likes it, will not be able to find his hair brush that I have already placed in the same drawer. I find more and more things he uses set out and not put up and have decided that must make it easier for him to find. Even with the subtle tricks we use to make it easier for him, mostly it is for naught. 

Today, I intend to try something new by actually steering WB into more conversations back when Buck was a calf. I have noticed that when the great storyteller talks about days gone by, his speech is better.

Perhaps this is just the therapy we need.

Keywords:  Tannehill State Park, Early Onset and Memory, Traveling with Alzheimers
My name is Rhonda Brantley. My husband, Billy Ray Brantley, was diagnosed in 2007 with Early Onset Alzheimer's Dementia. I am his caretaker.

1 comment:

  1. Maybe so.. would be great if you could record some of those memories... Thinking about you guys!! XOXO!!


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