DENVER — Dementia doesn't discriminate.
It can touch wealthy and influential families like the Bowlens.
It can also affect every day, regular people, who are navigating through the diagnosis of a loved one.
Deb Wells’ husband, John, was working as an English teacher when his bosses and wife started to notice certain changes.
“Not so much with memory,” Deb explained. “But more with long term or prospective memory, appointments. He had a hard time planning.”
John was soon diagnosed with Lewy body dementia. About a year later, he could no longer drive.
Deb was working full time when her husband was first diagnosed. As his health deteriorated over several years, she eventually transitioned into being his full-time caretaker.
“The reality is, for anybody who’s caring for someone with dementia, that it’s unpredictable,” she said. “You don’t know what kind of a day they’re going to have, how much energy it’s going to take. It’s the unknown about the whole thing. Even… hearing the diagnosis, you have no idea how long this is going to be, what your journey is going to be like, what to prepare for.”
John Wells died in 2014 on St. Patrick’s Day.
Deb found a new purpose in her work.
“About a year and a half after he passed away, I heard about a position open up at the Alzheimer’s Association,” she said.
Deb is now the Community Relations Manager, which includes supervising the volunteer coordinator and writing grants for the organization.
Now, she can work with other families navigating this diagnosis.
“For the person who might be in that situation as a caretaker, there’s hope," she said. "There’s hope for you to successfully navigate this journey with your loved one, there’s hope for you to come through this and have a life on the other side.”
“Become educated about the disease,” she continued. “If you have a loved one who you think might need your help in this regard, come to the Alzheimer’s Association, we have all kinds of resources that will help navigate this journey.”
The Alzheimer's Association has a helpline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That number is 1-800-272-3900.
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