So often, when working with families who are struggling to care for a loved one with dementia or Alzheimer’s, the most frustrating aspect is the uncertainty of their loved one’s condition from day to day. The recent case of Verne G. from Minnesota highlights these uncertainties very clearly.
Verne was a prominent professional wrestler in the American Wrestling Association (AWA) 1960’s and 1970’s, and later became a wrestling promoter. The AWA eventually lost all its big starts, such as Hulk Hogan and Jesse Ventura, to the World Wrestling Federation. Verne is now 82 and suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. He lives in a nursing home where he had an altercation with a 97 year old patient. Verne put the 97 year old man in a wrestling hold and slammed him to the ground, breaking the man’s hip. The man Verne slammed to the ground eventually died a few weeks later. The police investigated the incident, but there was a consensus of opinion that Verne should not be charged with a crime because he didnt know what he was doing.
Verne’s story is tragic, but it is all to familar to stories that many families dealing with Dementia or Alzheimer’s. It is the uncertain, sometime violent and erratic, behavior that can be most frustrating and frightening.
Although no one can be sure what caused Verne to act the way he did, we do know that Alzheimer’s patients very often lose their short-term memory but are able to conjure memories of events and people from 40 or 50 years ago. Verne’s skill as a wrestler made him more dangerous than the average resident. He was more physically fit than most of the other residents and while Verne was losing he short-term memory he was able to recall his days wrestling. Perhaps it was those memories, programmed into his brain, that caused Verne to perform a wrestling move on his roommate.
It is this type of unpredictability that can turn a family’s world upside down. Dad can be living comfortably in a nursing home one day and become extremely aggitated and aggressive, causing the facility to ask the family to move him because they cannot accomodate his needs or because they are concerned for the safety of the other residents.
Families simply cannot sit back, wait, and react to a loved one’s long-term care needs. Whenever possible, preventative measures need to be taken. So often, we see families plan as if Mom or Dad’s current condition, while tragic and upsetting, will remain static and unchanged. That is just not the case, and misjudging the situation can be worse than anyone imagined.
Seeing families go through this time and again is why we have made the Complete Alzheimer’s Resource Kit available for free online. The helpful guides and reports included will help families and caretakers learn what to expect when a loved one has Alzheimer’s or other for of dementia. To order your free copy of the Complete Alzheimer’s Resource Kit, a $200 value, go to www.BostonMemoryLawyer.com. We also encourage anyone who has a loved one with long-term care needs to register to attend one of our Free, Educational Workshops hosted in Wellesley, Massachusetts by registering online or by calling (800)-964-4295. Upcoming Dates Include:
Thursday March 1 @ 10 a.m. & 2 p.m.
Thursday March 15 @ 10 a.m. & 2 p.m.