The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Local News

March 2, 2013

In Sickness and In Health, Part II: One step at a time into her decline



She was seeing bugs in food, random children, babies in the house she felt compelled to care for, grotesque people. Jim tried to help her understand, telling her the hallucinations were like movies — she sees them, but they’re not real life.

He installed child-proof locks on the basement door because he was afraid she’d hurt herself. The longest he’d leave her alone was 20 minutes, because he could never be sure what she’d do.

Around this time, 2010, is when Judy’s health and ability to take care of herself got worse.

Jim took her to the clinic for periodic dementia tests. Initially, she showed a few signs but nothing severe. Every six months, though, she was retested. Eventually, she no longer had the presence of mind to find the date on a newspaper. She didn’t know what day it was. When given three words and told to remember them later, she failed. When asked to fold a piece of paper three times, she failed.

As Judy’s dementia worsened, so did Jim’s state of mind.

“I’d missed a few doses of her medication and was feeling guilty. I was doing more and more myself. Laundry, cooking, still working part time, doing volunteer work, preaching. Because she wasn’t sleeping well, I wasn’t sleeping well. I would try to take a nap when she did, but I never felt comfortable doing that.”

In February 2010 Judy came down with a very bad chest cold. Because of her Parkinson’s medications, she was unable to take cold medication.

“She went from being able to do many things by herself to not being able to do anything, and she was very sick,” Jim said. “When she’d cough, it was all so painful to watch her trying to deal with that. That played a role in setting her back, and her dementia played a part in how she was able to cope.”

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