Yesterday, my Uncle Richard visited.
He comes by for a visit every week or two. He usually brings photographs, or books or other things that my Mom might find stimulating. He used to work in China and has visited it many times since he retired. So often he brings pictures of people he met or places he visited.
In the back, you can see a walker. We never did use that walker much. About a year ago, my mother’s gait began to disintegrate. In the beginning, her walk would sometimes become a stuttering step where she would end up kind of marching in place. It was as if her brain had forgotten some key step in the complicated process which is walking.
The neurologist explained that sometimes patients with dementia will have symptoms that resemble Parkinson’s. Within a couple of months, her walking had deteriorated to the point where most of the time she traveled from room to room with the blue transfer chair that Richard sits in above. It is sometimes possible to get her to walk short distances. You must stand in front of her, holding her with a gait belt and encouraging her to take every step.
All of her muscles seem to be there and she can control her legs in other situations. It’s as if the software, the instruction set which govern walking have disappeared, or rather just a few key instructions.
A year ago at Thanksgiving, we went out to eat with the whole family. Mom could walk, although the stutter stepping sometimes affected her. She could speak, although her speech was often labored. Now she cannot walk and her she is essentially mute. She can communicate via gestures, signs, etc. but actual words from her lips are very rare.