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ZWOLLE – What appears to be fatigue turns out to be a form of dementia. Mark Decker (57 years old) is one of those people who have this disease at an early age. He was diagnosed 6.5 years ago. Talking is difficult now. His wife Yolanda tells Strick on their behalf. “You don’t see anything in Mark, but he can do less and less independently.”
Bills remain unpaid, Mark asks for a new PIN every now and then, and at work he forgets one thing after another. Exhausted, exhausted, what would it be? It never occurred to him and Jolanda that it could be a form of dementia – Mark is in his late forties at the time. Forgetting it gets worse. “When we discussed during dinner that we could have ice cream for dessert, after a few minutes he casually took the milk from the fridge,” Jolanda recalls.
Mark goes to work with notebooks, mindfulness, and psychotherapy, but nothing changes. “When I found out he called the doctor three times in one day to set up an appointment, I knew something was really wrong,” Yolanda says. Moreover, the caring Mark was always less concerned with the vagaries of those close to him. It wasn’t until a year and a half later that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Doctors wanted to rule out all other options first. I understand they are keen to put a “label” on it, but for us it was a relief. Clarity at last,” says Jolanda.
The reactions in their environment vary. One offers help, the other faces doubt. From “Does Mark Still Recognize You?” to “But I don’t see anything about him.” “That’s the complicated part,” Jolanda says. “We want to help the elderly anyway, but someone who is young and fit and still just rides a bike, and that doesn’t fit in the picture we have of someone who can use help.”
What outsiders don’t see is that even though Mark took the bike, he didn’t find his target. “When Mark went to the glass container, he came back with the ‘glass container no longer there.’ So he can’t find it,” explains Jolanda. “His eyes are working, but the images are not being processed properly. Fortunately, he is still finding his way home.” His brain continues to deteriorate. “Besides being forgetful, not processing things or not being able to find something, he has lost his sense of time, has difficulty holding conversations and doesn’t know what to do at home,” Jolanda says. “If I don’t give him anything to do, he’ll go to the bathroom a hundred times in a row.”
Some things don’t change: Mark is still a social person and loves to run. He smiles when Jolanda starts talking about his day activities three days a week. “Cycling,” he replied when asked what he likes to do there. and walking. The group is mixed. From small to large. Nice, Mark thinks it’s there. He is glad to have people of all ages. Because going to a gym with older people is nothing. Although… “Then I’ll win,” he said suddenly sharply. When Jolanda laughs, he laughs too.
The couple meets regularly with other spouses, one of whom suffers from dementia. “Communicating with fellow sufferers, half a word is enough. The Jungheimercafé was recently launched in Zwolle for young people with dementia and their loved ones. Nice initiative. More attention should be paid to this group. Moreover, it would be good for people to stay with the employer with some modifications. Otherwise, they lose a lot of independence.” For people in the same situation as Mark and She, Jolanda has advice. “See the others. talk about it. The more people who know, the better they can take that into account.”
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