Grappling with a dementia diagnosis can bring on an array of emotions, shifting among fear, anxiety, dread and more. Approximately 5.8 million Americans are living with dementia — a cluster of symptoms that can rob a person of their ability to think, remember and reason — and everyone’s experience is different.
The years following a diagnosis are often painfully brief: Individuals with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, live an average of four to eight years after being diagnosed, though people can live with the disease for up to two decades as it progresses from mild to more severe stages (there are five total). And the day-to-day can feel complex.
“I can drift in and out of stage 1, stage 2, stage 1, or not at all,” says Bart Brammer, 72, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s at age 70. “My memory can be focused, and I can tell you my history teacher’s name. And then later on that day, I can’t tell you who I’m running into in the parking lot that I’ve known for years.”
After grieving and processing his diagnosis, Brammer realized that his days weren’t getting progressively worse. While some mornings are a slog, others feel full of energy and possibility.
People with dementia are finding the courage to face their future, doing the hard work of making their own decisions — and trying to enjoy life, too.
To read four of their stories, from AARP, CLICK HERE.