Visual Memory

Travels with Dad

—-This is a story of a complex relationship with my father, Al, who I came to love and understand after he was diagnosed with dementia.—-

I’m not a scientist.  I’m not even an Alzheimer’s field expert.  But I know what I know, and can explain it in layman’s terms.

My father recognized his people.  He knew who I was, who my mother was, and recognized our neighbors.  He knew his brothers who he didn’t see often, and he remembered our friends.  He just couldn’t name them or describe how they were related.  But he knew.

How do I know this?  Because he would light up every time he saw someone he knew, and he didn’t do this with people he never saw before.

Case in point:  I took him to have lunch at “Poopie’s – DiManno’s Lunch” in Glens Falls one day.  As soon as we walked in, he spotted our cousin Jerry behind the counter cooking up a storm.  Al said “Hey! There’s…..”, and pointed at Jerry.  That’s all he could come up with.  It was enough for me to know that his visual memory was somewhat intact.

I emphasized this remaining awareness any time I could by enhancing our interactions.  When we encountered someone we knew, I would say, “Al, this is so and so.”  It enriched our visit with each person, and many times, I suspect, put the other person at ease, knowing that we weren’t afraid of being “normal” members of society.

Jerry Dimano

Cousin Jerry and owner of Poopie’s, with a hungry crowd at the soda fountain.

More on Poopie’s in the near future…stay tuned.




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7 Responses to Visual Memory

  1. bittygirl51 says:

    Great thoughts. I am full-time caregiver for my 92 yr. old MIL that although she has dementia, smiles when I walk in the room, knows my name most of the time, knows my relation some of the time, but has no clue of where she’s at or why she’s there all of the time! God is still good!

  2. rose says:

    so true bittygirl. my gram also had dementia and remembered her family and friends. unfortunately she couldn’t remember if she took her pills or ate during the day. we were forced to put her in assisted living. and only lasted about 5 years before passing away. its still very hard on us.

  3. I am so glad your father kept that awareness going. As you wrote, it was comforting for others, and probably for himself many days.

  4. bob says:

    so right Diane. how funny humans are when its important pay attention to human interaction. let this be a hard lesson to always do this!

  5. Ann Mckinley says:

    I don’t know,Diane, I think you are an expert at dementia/Alzheimer’s care. You have been so there for your Dad and now your Mom. I think that qualifies you for doctorate status on the spiritual level.

  6. bittygirl51 says:

    I agree with you, Ann. I can attest to how much I’ve grown “spiritually” since having to take care of my MIL. I’m sure the same is true for you, Diane. When put in a tight spot, we find out what we are truly made of.

  7. Diane Fiore says:

    Thanks for the affirming thoughts, ladies. There’s always a silver lining, and growing spiritually is golden, as you both can attest to.

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