"The Stuff In My Head"

Jerry: Why can’t I go? They are trying to kill me here.

Joye: Nobody is trying to kill you. The VA says you need to be here. (Something she tells her husband, because explaining the truth is hard for him).

Jerry began showing signs of dementia eight years ago, but the symptoms increased. Symptoms like shuffling of the feet, reminiscing memories, and hallucinations, like the time he thought fireworks outside were enemies from the war.

Jerry has Lewy Body Dementia, a disease that shares symptoms of Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, effecting cognitive ability, sleep, and behaviors, according to the Lewy Body Dementia Association.

Now he has his own way of understanding dementia, which he calls ‘the hair in the head.’

Joye: Do you know what’s wrong with you honey?

Jerry: Oh the stuff in my head? Yea, they can’t get it out….I mean you could rub my head, and you don’t feel anything, but there’s something going on up there...

Joye: But there’s no known cure for it, is there? 

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Joye, a retired Director of Nursing, met Jerry at a poolside party 26 years ago. She recalls a wonderful relationship, and describes him as a warm loving, gentle soul, which hasn't changed other than the disease progressing.

Joye had promised her husband that she’d never put him away in old age, but things changed. He began flailing from dreams, accidentally hurting her in the night. Then he would get up in the night unsupervised. Soon after she had a stroke.

So she checked her husband into the memory care unit at Brookdale Citrus Senior Living Solutions in Lecanto.

“It truly has made a difference for me,” Joye said. “As a caregiver, you need to remember to take time for yourself. The stress is gone. It really has been a help having him here.”

 Joye Rush gives her friend a deep hug during an Alzheimer's support group at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Inverness, Fla. "The reason I go to the meetings is to help, because they were such a help to me...It’s okay to ask for help,” Rush said.

Joye Rush gives her friend a deep hug during an Alzheimer's support group at Our Lady of Fatima Catholic Church in Inverness, Fla. "The reason I go to the meetings is to help, because they were such a help to me...It’s okay to ask for help,” Rush said.

Jerry: The best thing I’ve got in my life is my wife 

Joye: You got me and I come all the time.

Jerry: You know I was never was a cry boy. Just sometimes I get something...(he starts to tear up again)

His mind goes back to life on the battle ship, then he's called to dinner. He waves goodbye, as she carries out the dogs, that he calls 'the kids.’ Tomorrow she plans to come back to see him.

 Joye Rush sits with her husband Jerry, and their two dogs that he calls the kids during a visit to his room on the Memory Care Unit at Brookdale Citrus Senior Living Solutions. “Over the past few years, I’ve watched my close husband - my partner - dying,” Joye said. “That’s what the disease is. It’s death...You watch your partner leaving you...You don’t lose your spouse when they pass on, you lose them gradually before that, but God love them they don’t realize that.”

Joye Rush sits with her husband Jerry, and their two dogs that he calls the kids during a visit to his room on the Memory Care Unit at Brookdale Citrus Senior Living Solutions. “Over the past few years, I’ve watched my close husband - my partner - dying,” Joye said. “That’s what the disease is. It’s death...You watch your partner leaving you...You don’t lose your spouse when they pass on, you lose them gradually before that, but God love them they don’t realize that.”