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Wendy Williams: What Happens Now?

By now we have all heard of Wendy Williams’ diagnosis of Frontotemporal Dementia and Primary Progressive Aphasia. Terrible and rough diagnosis, not only for her, but for her caregivers. She is young, only 59 years old. So, what happens now?


Based on my professional experience, I’m guessing that she probably had aphasia episodes before anyone really noticed there was a problem. Aphasia impacts communication including speech, writing, and the inability to understand language.  These symptoms can be very subtle at first and can be blown off as being over tired or too busy or over worked. Certainly attributes of a celebrity. 


Primary Progressive Aphasia (PPA) is a subtype of Frontotemporal Dementia and as the disease progresses, Wendy will begin to lose her ability to understand written or spoken language and her speaking skills will diminish. This condition is not curable. She can go to speech and language therapy, as well as physical and occupational therapy. 


Frontotemporal Dementia symptoms include a decrease in inhibition, loss of motivation, reduced empathy, compulsive behaviors, anxiety and depression. This condition is also not curable. Her only treatment options are medications to help with any anxiety, depression or compulsive behaviors.


Her caregivers will also have a rough road. Now, with the diagnosis, they need to be supportive, help her understand her diagnosis and get her to her appointments. As the disease progresses, they will need to learn different ways of communicating with her and continuing their support for her, keeping her safe and making decisions for her. 


Not only do I wish her and her caregivers the best, but all those who suffer from any type of dementia and their caregivers. They are all rough roads. I know. I took care of my mother who had vascular dementia. And my grandmother who had Alzheimer’s, although I did not care for her as I was in my 20’s, but it was hard watching her mind and behavior change. 


And even now as I write this, I’m thinking of my sister who has had a couple of aphasia episodes recently and will be wearing an EEG cap for three days starting this Monday. She is 61.


As a final note, dementia is not an ‘old’ person’s disease. It can strike anyone at any time. In my career, the youngest on my behavioral health unit with dementia was 35, married with 2 young children, went to work one day and forgot how to do his job…it started from there. 


Until next time…


WORK CITED:

Frontotemporal Dementia, John Hopkins Medicine





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