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My dad has dementia


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My dad has dementia


 

My dad was diagnosed with Frontaltemporal Lobe Dementia (FTD) in 2003 when he was just 60 years old and I was 24. 

There are over 650,000 people in the United States living with some form of early onset dementia. This is my journey, a place designed to educate you and let you know, you're not alone. I get it. 

 
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My journal


For years, I didn't know anyone else who has a parent with early onset.  Now I'm giving you a peek into my world because I know I'm not alone.

Learn more

My journal


For years, I didn't know anyone else who has a parent with early onset.  Now I'm giving you a peek into my world because I know I'm not alone.

Learn more

My dad, Michael was born in 1943 in Boston, MA. He's the second oldest of 6 kids. Funny to call my aunts and uncles, who are all in their 60's+ kids, but him being the second oldest is still true.

Their dad, my paternal grandfather died when my dad was in his senior year of high school. From what he shares, this influenced his decision to stay local and attend College of the Holy Cross after high school. This way he could stay close to his younger brothers and sisters and support his mom in raising them. 

After college my dad went to Officer Candidate School and enlisted in the Navy. He went on to do a tour in Vietnam. His time as Captain of a Swift Boat during the Vietnam War was life changing. Upon his return he went to Wall Street and into the financial sector. 

Soon thereafter, in 1971 he was transferred to London, England where he met my mom. They married in 1973 and I came along in 1979. My brother followed shortly thereafter in 1981. 

There's a lot to share, know and understand about my dad. Honestly, I really feel like I'm only truly getting to know him in the past few years. I suppose age and curiosity does that.

He loves the Kingston Trio, can be counted on for delivering a few specific cheesy phrases and will eat pretzels until the cows come home.

Like any child-parent relationship, ours is also a rollercoaster of emotion + experiences, while being deep, dynamic, intense and loving.  He has a quiet, consistent love which is easy to overlook sometimes.

My relationship with my dad hasn't been easy. And while dementia sure as hell doesn't make it any easier, I experience a level of love and compassion for him I've never had before.

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The disease


The disease


What is FTD? 

 

Frontaltemporal degeneration (FTD) is a disease process that results in progressive damage to the temporal and/or frontal lobes of the brain, the parts of the brain that control decision making, personality + social behaviour.

How is FTD distinct?

The hallmark of FTD is a gradual, progressive decline in behaviour and/or language (with memory usually relatively preserved.) As the disease progresses, it becomes difficult for people to plan or organize activities, behave appropriately, interact with others, and care for oneself, resulting in increasing dependency on caregivers.

Onset of FTD

Onset of FTD usually occurs in a person's 50's to 60's, although has been seen as early as 21 years and as late as 80 years of age. Roughly 60% of cases occur in people between 45-64 years of age, thus FTD can affect work and family in a way dementia in older patients does not. 

(Thanks to The Association for Frontaltemporal Degeneration for the stats.)

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