(Originally written in August 2013)
After a series of tests with several doctors over the past five months, we now have an official diagnosis: dementia and some Alzheimer's. He has had many infarcts (mini strokes) that are affecting his motor skills. His thyroid is also slowly dying, which has drastically affected his desire and ability to stay active. He is already showing improvement from the thyroid medication, and Mom P. does what she can to gently encourage him to be active, help around the house where he can, and get out to activities or just walking around the mall.
One of the things that our family doctor told us is that the shuffling isn't his fault. It is actually one of the most common side affects, and therefore signs, of dementia. It's part of the loss of motor skills Papa P. is experiencing. We also need to be careful about taking as good of care as Mom P. as we do Papa P. We do not want her to wear herself out and get sick. Her health is paramount in helping Papa P. manage his illness and live a happy and fulfilling life.
I know it will not always be easy, but I also know that this life is not the end. Even though Papa P. may not remember the music he used to play so effortlessly and he may eventually have to be reminded of my name when I talk to him, one day all that he is and all that should be his will be restored to him. I'm grateful for that knowledge.
I love you, Papa.