Caring for Your Parents: Coping with Dementia
ANCHORAGE - Imagine getting news from your doctor that you are suffering from a type of brain condition called dementia that is only likely to get worse. Alzheimer’s and other diseases can cause dementia that comes on gradually, but the diagnosis doesn’t have to stop people in their tracks.
Tim Neale is proof that people with early stage dementia can remain active, although for most of his life he was a man who was hard to keep pace with. In fact, to say Neale is an athlete is an understatement. Neale has climbed Mt. McKinley, raced bikes and motorcycles and run the Mt. Marathon race in Seward 30 times.
But three years ago Neale hung up his racing shoes. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and a form of dementia that sometimes goes with it. He said he has watched both his body and his brain slow down.
“Anything I do takes about twice as long to do as it used to and part of it is that I can daydream,” he said.
But while the disease may have slowed him down it hasn’t stopped him. He did have to hang up the car keys as his disease progressed, but he gets out daily with a caretaker. A favorite coffee shop on Muldoon offers a view of the peaks he used to climb as well as see friends and socialize. He tries to live what he calls a “normal” life.
Neale is the first to say he can’t do everything that he used to do, but some things are still a priority.
Neale has advice for others: It’s do what is important to you now because the future is uncertain. And when things do change, try to accept them.
“You can’t always or maybe never do the things you used to do,” said Neale,” but that doesn’t mean that you can't do some new things.”
Tim said he’s living life in spite of his disease, and appreciating it every day. If you’d like more information about dementia, including resources for people experiencing it, text KTVAAGING TO 28201.