Remembering and Honoring Loved Ones During the Season of Giving

Eric Anderson

November 22, 2023

Eric Anderson
February 9, 2024

As the leaves turn from green to orange and brown and fall from the trees, we are often reminded of the cycle of life. And, for many, the holidays are a time to be with family and remember those close to us who have passed. During this time of year, I am reminded of my grandfather who passed away from Lewy body dementia.

My grandfather was the son of Swedish immigrants and carried with him the Swedish ideals of humbleness and independence which he passed on to his children. He was a captain in the US Army and served in Germany during the Second World War. When he came back to Chicago, he worked as a neurosurgeon, treating people with operable brain disease. Despite serving as a daily counselor for his patients in regard to the inherent uncertainties and fears that accompany brain surgery, he was always known for being cheerful, with a razor wit, and a playful sense of humor.

Despite remaining active and engaged his whole life, the symptoms of dementia began to creep in while he was still in practice. He started to become lost in the hospital while doing consultations, and began to hallucinate small people that were hostile towards him. These were the beginning symptoms of Lewy body dementia that progressed quickly. During this relatively rapid decline, I watched my grandfather’s upbeat and witty personality fade away, only to be replaced by a sullen and seemingly emotionless, reactionless person, who no longer recognized his family. This was the hardest thing for me to cope with - to lose the personality, the core of the person l Ioved. Shortly after any trace of who he was had left, his body followed. It was a very confusing thing to mourn the loss of someone who hadn’t yet died.

After his passing, and especially during the holidays, we make sure to remember and honor the person that he was. To recall the times we had with him and the jokes and laughter we shared. It is important for us to focus on the life he lived and the good that he did in the world.

I am blessed to be part of the team at Synapticure where we are all invested in helping patients and families that live with these struggles every day. Many on our team have been personally touched by neurodegenerative disease, and we all bring our collective experiences to the table with an aligned goal of doing the most that we can for our patients and their caregivers.

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