Tag Archives: alzheimer’s

A FORMIDABLE FOE: LEWY BODY DEMENTIA

Born at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago on July 21, 1951, Robin Williams was the son of Robert Fitzgerald Williams, a senior executive in Ford Motor Company’s Lincoln-Mercury Division. His mother, Laurie McLaurin, was a former model from Jackson, Mississippi. During a television interview on Inside the Actors Studio in 2001, Williams credited his mother as an important early influence on his humor. He said he tried to make her laugh to gain attention.

Williams attended public elementary school at Gorton Elementary School in Lake Forest and middle school at Deer Path Junior High School. When he was twelve, his father was transferred to Detroit. When he was sixteen, his father took early retirement and the family moved to California.

He began performing stand-up comedy in San Francisco and Los Angeles in the 1970’s. He also starred in numerous films including Good Morning, Vietnam (1987) and the box office hit Mrs. Doubtfire (1993).

On August 11, 2014, the world learned that Williams had committed suicide by hanging himself in his California home. He was sixty-three years old. The autopsy report showed no alcohol or illegal drugs were involved. Prescription drugs in his system were at “therapeutic” levels. The final autopsy report noted that Williams had been suffering “a recent increase in paranoia.” An examination of his brain tissue suggested Williams suffered from “diffuse Lewy body dementia.”

According to a Mayo Clinic article “Lewy body dementia” at https://www.mayoclinic.org., “Lewy body dementia, also known as dementia with Lewy bodies, is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s disease dementia. Protein deposits, called Lewy bodies, develop in nerve cells in the brain regions involved in thinking, memory and movement (motor control).

“Lewy body dementia causes a progressive decline in mental abilities. People with Lewy body dementia may experience visual hallucinations, and change in alertness and attention. Other effects include Parkinson’s disease-like symptoms such as rigid muscles, slow movement and tremors.”

If you have a family member who suffers from Lewy body dementia and needs private duty nursing, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the-clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs), Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission. For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski

AT HOME WITH MOM

 

Mom always had a huge garden on the farm. She grew potatoes, tomatoes, lettuce, peas, onions, green beans, sweet corn, pickles, cucumbers, strawberries, gooseberries, raspberries, and blackberries. There was a bed of asparagus along the fence, and rhubarb plants in another area. A peach tree and an apricot tree grew along the path to the chicken house. We used to say that if we couldn’t grow it, we didn’t eat it.

When Dad retired from farming in 1968, he and Mom moved to a house in Decatur. The house was on a quiet street, not far from a small shopping center. The property backed up to the baseball fields of a high school. The backyard was perfect for a garden. Dad trucked in a load of good, black dirt.

Mom and Dad lived in that house for many years. Then Mom’s mind began to fail. It was as if a computer in her brain had a short in it. Once she tried defrosting a frozen chicken by putting it in the bedroom closet instead of in the refrigerator. She was storing the object in an inappropriate place, an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Another time, Dad had driven Mom to the beauty shop just a few blocks away. He told her to call him when she was finished at the beauty shop, and he would pick her up. He was sitting in his big Lazy Boy chair next to the front window when he saw Mom walking past on the sidewalk. By the time he got up to go outside to get her, she had disappeared. Vanished. Dad called the police, and they came to help search for Mom. They found her around the corner about half a block. She was sitting in a Burger King! Getting lost in familiar places is another early sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Sometimes when they left the house to visit relatives, she would become frantic at dusk. She thought they needed to get home to put the screen in the door of the chicken house so the foxes would not eat the chickens. That was the routine we had when we lived on the farm, but that was years ago. This was another sign of Alzheimer’s disease.

Mom could still dress herself. She could still cook. Since Dad was in good health and living in the house with her, Mom was able to continue living in their house. Without Dad, she would have needed in-home care or an assisted living facility. She died suddenly at age eighty-one.

If you have a family member who needs in-home services, call American Home Health at (630) 236-3501. The agency can provide round-the clock nursing care by Registered Nurses (RNs), Licensed Practical Nurses (LPNs), and Certified Nursing Assistants (CNAs). Our service area covers fifteen counties in Northern Illinois including Cook, Lake, McHenry, Boone, Winnebago, Ogle, Lee, DeKalb, DuPage, Kane, Kendall, LaSalle, Grundy, Will, and Kankakee. American Home Health is licensed by the State of Illinois and accredited by the Joint Commission.

For further information, go to www.ahhc-1.com, or call (630) 236-3501.

—By Karen Centowski