How does dementia feel in people diagnosed with the disease

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Bart Brammer, 72, Old Hickory, TN

“I was starting to confuse my dates, my hotels, my rental cars, my planes,” says Bart Brammer, 72, a former corporate trainer who had a 30-year career in the automotive industry.

His busy travel schedule has him visiting three locations in a typical week. “I showed up at the wrong airport. I showed up at the wrong training site. I arrived a day early,” he recalled.

But he didn’t go to the doctor. He thought his problems were caused by stress, his busy schedule, or working too hard.

It wasn’t until he had a stroke at age 70 that things changed. While he was in recovery, dealing with a stutter and memory loss, his doctor ordered a PET scan. The imaging test revealed that he had early stage Alzheimer’s and dementia was setting in.

While planning for this “quick mindlessness” was difficult, Brammer says, what’s even harder is not being able to plan for the future. If anyone asks what he’s doing on July 4 — not this year, but next — he doesn’t have an answer. “I can’t think that far because of the fear of not being there. And there’s no way to know,” he says.

Brammer kept his diagnosis a secret for six months, mainly because he was so worried about the stigma. “Some people with Alzheimer’s live in absolute fear,” he says. “They pretty much crawled inside their shell and said, ‘OK, that’s all there is. There is nothing left. That’s how it’s gonna be. ”

Eventually, however, he was able to share what he was going through. Now he can see the positive side: he feels less urgency in his life, and with that, less stress.

“I appreciate the time I have a lot more than I do,” Brammer says.

In the past he wondered, What’s the next thing? What do I do next? Where am I going next? What’s the next truck? What’s the next ship? “All of that is gone,” he says. “Actually, I live for today. And I’m in the moment.

He slowly learned that “attitude is everything”. If you work hard at having the right mindset – and it can be exhausting at times – you can maintain your independence a little longer. “I’m delighted to wake up in the morning and thank God for each day,” he says.

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