CHAPTER 1: I learned the hard way what the disease of Alzheimer's/Dementia was. I never knew what Dementia was until the day my dad, Billy Ray Nipper was diagnosis with it. Dementia actually causes a very slow death. Dementia causes the brain to slowly deteriorate or shrink. Affecting one part of the brain at a time. The last part of the brain Dementia affects is the Brain Stem, which controls your breathing and heart. Dementia is really Alzheimer's and Dementia is a group of symptoms.
If you have never had a love one with Dementia, let me say that you can never prepare yourself for the experience your love one will go through. My dad spent the last two and half years of his life bedridden in a nursing home. It was hard to see him lying there and not being able walk. He would be in constant pain. I don't know how many times I told my dad that if I could I would change places with him.
Dementia causes a person to hallucinate. My dad thought a paper towel dispensary was a skunk. He would often see his brothers and sisters standing in his nursing home room, and they have been passed away for years. He also said to me he saw my grandmother (his mom), she had passed away nearly 40 years. Dementia causes a person to have trouble remembering things. Dementia causes a person to stop eating. How? The part of the brain that controls your appetite, tells you that you are not hungry. My dad got to the point where he had stop eating to the point that all his muscle tone was gone. In other words, my dad was only skin and bones. I remember having to make the decision whether or not to have a feeding tube place in my dad. And that was very hard to do.
Dementia causes a person to become combative, verbally combative, and use words that they normally don't use, for example profanity. My dad was a godly Christian man and never would use profanity, never was combative, or verbally combative. After my dad was diagnosis with Dementia, he would be verbally combative and use profanity at times, especially toward the doctors and nurses. This was not my dad, it was the disease. On one occasion, I went outside his hospital room one day, and just started crying, because I could not handle seeing my dad that way. As I was crying I verbally, said to myself "Why? I want my dad back." You never know when a person with Dementia was going to get combative. Like my dad, he went a few days acting normal, and then the combative symptoms started.
The last part of the brain to be effected is the Brain Stem. This is the part of the brain that controls a person's breathing and heart. To me, this is the part you never see coming. It was Thursday, September 3, 2015, I had spent a long day at the hospital. My dad had been in the hospital nearly two weeks with a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI) and his bladder was producing blood. I left the hospital about sometime between 10:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. that night to go pick up my brother who stayed with dad overnight at the hospital. Then about 4:05 a.m. on Friday, September 4, 2015, I got a call from my dad's nurse saying my dad was having trouble breathing. I got Karla, my wife up and before we left home I called the hospital and the nurse told me my dad had passed away at 4:09 a.m. My dad was ready to go home to God. The last two days of my dad's life all he would say was "Lord help me, Lord help me."
One of the last things my dad had told me was a couple of days before he passed away. I was standing by my dad's bedside and he looked at me and mention the word "rest." I said, "dad you need rest." My dad replied, " no you need rest, I worry about you." I will never forget that.
CHAPTER 2: And now, I am having to go through Dementia again. My uncle Robert Frank Martin (my mom's brother) was diagnosis with Dementia on September 17, 2016. One year and nearly two weeks to the day my dad passed away with Dementia. I was my dad's caregiver and now I am Robert's caregiver. My mom and Robert are the only two left out of five children. And this is taking a toll on my mom. However, I believe one reason God introduce me to Dementia through my dad, was to help my mom get through this experience with her brother Robert.
Robert was not only my uncle, was a second dad to me, and he thought of me as a son. My mom never abandoned her brother. On Thursday morning, September 13, 2018, about 1:45 a.m., I got a call from the nursing home Robert was at. The nurse told me I needed to get to the nursing home quickly, at that moment I knew what it was. As I walked through the door at the nursing home, the nurse told me at 1:32 a.m. my uncle Robert Frank Martin stopped breathing and passed away. Robert had gone home to Heaven (less than two years after being diagnosis). This horrible disease (Dementia) took my dad and my uncle from our family. At Robert's funeral, before the casket was closed I went up to Robert's casket kissed him on the fore head. Then I placed my hand on his shoulder, and I made a promise to Robert, I promised Robert for the rest of my life, I would help to fight this horrible disease known as Alzheimer's/Dementia until a cure is found. [NOTE: Robert entered St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital on August 28, 2018 (his wife's birthday). Robert passed away on September 13, 2019, his wife Sherry passed away September 13, 2001.]
CHAPTER 3: Having been caregiver to both my dad and my uncle I saw how this disease had some what a different effect on both of them. My dad was bedridden the last 2 1/2 years of his life. My dad was only skin and bones at the time he passed away. And that really bothered me a lot. But still my dad got very combative at times. My dad told me he could see my grandmother (his mom who passed away in 1974) at times and also one of his brothers. Whereas, my uncle was able to walk. My uncle would wonder in other patient's room especially at night when he went to bed. I recall I got a call one night from the assisting living facility he was at. I was told that my uncle went to bed in a female patient's room and went to sleep. They could not get him back to his room because he was very combative.
CHAPTER 4: Since 2014, my wife Karla and I are have been a part of the Alzheimer's Association, and we are honoring my dad Billy Ray Nipper and my uncle Robert Frank Martin in the fight to END ALZHEIMER'S/DEMENTIA. We have formed the team "TEAM MARTIN & NIPPER" to get family members and friends to participate with us. Also since 2015, I have been Volunteer Advocate for the Alzheimer's Association here in Tennessee.
CHAPTER 5: Finally, Alzheimer's/Dementia is a horrible disease and I would not wish it on my worst enemy. This disease causes an individual to either die quickly or slowly. To me this disease is more horrible than cancer. Why? Because the individual does not even know he or she is dying
Karla and I are leading the way to Alzheimer's first survivor by participating in the Alzheimer's Association Walk to End Alzheimer's® (for the eighth year in a row). Currently, more than 5 million Americans have Alzheimer's and that number is expected to grow to as many as 16 million by 2050. Our future is at risk unless we can find a way to change the course of this disease.
With your help, we can end Alzheimer's disease. How can you help? 1) By making a donation to advance the care, support and research efforts of the Alzheimer's Association. This can be done by going to my Alzheimer's Page, by clicking here http://act.alz.org/goto/dennisnipper and help me reach my individual goal of $1,000. 2) By Participating in the WALK TO END ALZHEIMER'S. This can be done by joining my team, "TEAM MARTIN & NIPPER" by clicking here http://act.alz.org/goto/teammartinandnipper and help ourteam to reach our team goal of $2,000
Dennis Nipper's Alzheimer's Page: http://act.alz.org/goto/dennisnipper
To join "Team Martin & Nipper": http://act.alz.org/goto/teammartinandnipper
Thank you for helping advance Alzheimer's support, care and research.
I have raised
Walk Committee Member