February 18, 2019

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Occasional kiss on the lips is her gift

Dementia is stealing her husband. It already took her mother and grandmother

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/1/2017 (769 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Marilyn Davis has learned a lot about dementia the hard way — from the struggles of several of her loved ones.

“My mom and my grandma had it,” said Davis, 68. She got to know her husband, Dave Kydd, at a bereavement group after they each lost a spouse to cancer. He was active, outgoing and creative.

“I never, ever thought Dave would get it.” He was diagnosed after they were together for four years.

Now, the woman who has decades of experience caring for loved ones who have the disease is voluntarily running monthly meetings for caregivers.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 10/1/2017 (769 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Marilyn Davis has learned a lot about dementia the hard way — from the struggles of several of her loved ones.

"My mom and my grandma had it," said Davis, 68. She got to know her husband, Dave Kydd, at a bereavement group after they each lost a spouse to cancer. He was active, outgoing and creative.

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS</p><p>Marilyn Davis visits her husband Dave Kydd, who has Lewy body dementia. He no longer knows she is his spouse.</p></p>

WAYNE GLOWACKI / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Marilyn Davis visits her husband Dave Kydd, who has Lewy body dementia. He no longer knows she is his spouse.

"I never, ever thought Dave would get it." He was diagnosed after they were together for four years.

Now, the woman who has decades of experience caring for loved ones who have the disease is voluntarily running monthly meetings for caregivers.

"Things have changed" for the better over the years, Davis said. Her grandmother went to the Fort Garry Care Centre and died in 1987. "It was the same home my mom went to with some of the same staff there.

"I know the care was there for my mom, but the understanding the care workers had was not there," Davis said.

She credits the Alzheimer Society of Manitoba with providing more training for staff at care homes and support for caregivers. Its 2017 campaign, which launched today, focuses on the fact dementia affects so many Canadians. Nearly half of all Manitobans have a close friend or family member with the progressive brain disorder. Its symptoms include memory loss and difficulty with thinking, problem-solving or language. Davis volunteered to share how dementia has affected her and what she’s learned.

Her husband, 76, has Lewy body dementia, a form of mental and physical dementia. She spent almost three years "totally immersed" in caring for him at home.

"Thank goodness I knew so much from my mom," Davis said. "Tone is important and to explain and help them understand what is being done," she said, recalling how frustrated her mom would get when she perceived that a stranger was trying to get her dressed. "That is such a personal thing."

She learned there’s no point in arguing or disagreeing with someone who has dementia, either. "You have to learn how to tell little white lies for the betterment of the situation," she said.

Davis said she learned that the way she treated her mom showed how she expected personal care home staff to treat her mom, and she learned how to speak up on her mom’s behalf. "I do a lot of advocating and model behaviour when I’m there with Dave," she said. She also learned how to take care of herself so she didn’t get burned out, sick or isolated.

When her husband’s needs got to the point she could no longer care for him at home, he moved to Oakview Place, where he’s received excellent care, said Davis. His incurable disease has continued to take its toll, she said.

"There’s very little sensible talk, and we have to feed him," she said. Davis visits Kydd twice a week.

She knows other caregivers who visit their spouse with Alzheimer’s once or twice a day. "I respect that in them," she said. After spending three years at home focused totally on caring for her husband, Davis said, at this stage, she’s making time for relationships with grandchildren and friends.

"It’s important to reconnect with people I haven’t spent time with for years."

Kydd no longer recognizes her as his spouse, she said.

"When I see Dave, he always has a smile. He hasn’t called me by name," she said. "I’m someone he trusts — the same as with other caregivers" at the care home.

"Once in a while, I’ll get a kiss on the lips, and that’s my gift."

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca

 

Carol Sanders

Carol Sanders
Reporter

Carol Sanders’ reporting on newcomers to Canada has made international headlines, earned national recognition but most importantly it’s shared the local stories of the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home.

Read full biography

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