Anderson County woman describes husband's dementia symptoms

Anderson County woman describes husband's dementia symptoms

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By JILL MCNEAL
6 News Anchor/Reporter

OAK RIDGE (WATE) - First United Methodist Church in Oak Ridge is the home of the Keystone Adult Day Program. It provides activities and supervision for adults dealing with health issues like dementia, as well as support for their caregivers.

On the day Pat Summitt announced she's been diagnosed with early onset dementia, Helen Jernigan spoke about her 84-year-old husband, Harold, who was diagnosed with mixed dementia three years ago.

"There were signs that I attributed to personality defects almost. He talked incessantly and began to tell stories over and over," Helen explained. 

Harold is a former city councilman and an Anderson County commissioner. "At meetings he would get the floor to speak about a subject and he would go on and on because he'd forget his point," Helen said.

Harold's disease has progressed significantly since then.

"The association of words is just gone. He's liable to call a book a cat," Helen said. 

Harold needs help now getting his pajamas on, which leg to put on which leg. "That's our relationship now almost. He's like my child," Helen said.

She's grateful they have a place like Keystone, and recommends the same type of respite to other families dealing with a diagnosis of dementia.

"I would advise them to, if they possibly can, have that person in a facility like Keystone because it provides that stimulus that can help," Helen said.

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