It’s rare I interview a person with a disability who is very comfortable about having a not-so-great prognosis. But Sven Dorsey truly is upbeat as he struggles with having vascular dementia. He reads this column in the Lebanon Reporter (Indiana).
According to a Mayo Clinic website, vascular dementia “is an umbrella term describing impairments in cognitive function caused by problems in blood vessels feeding the brain.” It can be caused by a stroke or narrow blood vessels, and affects 1 to 4 percent of people over 65.
“By age 62, I was having pretty bad memory problems at work, and because of that and a back injury, I took early retirement,” said 64-year-old Dorsey in a telephone interview. “Then, my wife, a nurse, started noticing changes in my behavior and more loss of short-term memory.”
Eventually, he had to stop driving. “My wife said I was blowing through stop signs like they weren’t there,” he said. “My driving was even scaring me. I’d be looking over at a field and start veering off the road.”
In 2008, a doctor diagnosed him with vascular dementia caused by a number of smaller strokes. Although no longer driving and managing his checkbook, he still walks, mows the lawn, and cooks supper.
“My short-term memory is shot,” he said. “For instance, while reading a book, right after I turn the page, the memory of the page before it is gone. I still love to read, but only do it for the enjoyment that moment.”
He credits his upbeat attitude to two things. “For one, I have deep faith and am involved at church, including helping hand out the Eucharist at Mass,” he said. “A strong belief in God would be a big help to someone getting through this, enabling you to be at peace for when you die. I don’t believe there is nothing after death. I know where I’m going.”
A doctor has said he should live at least another five years.
He also benefits from a supportive family and from the support gained and given on an Alzheimer’s Association online forum. Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia are both forms of dementia. “We live out in the country, and other than church, this (forum) is my support network,” he said.
He added that many people with dementia deny they have any cognitive problems, even after being diagnosed.