This specific type of memory is very closely related with a photographic memory, but a flashbulb memory is one that any individual can hold. Flashbulb memories are intensely vivid. People who often have flashbulb memories remember an instance in their life with great detail. Flashbulb memories provide a person a snapshot of a traumatic or emotional event, and this snapshot which can last for a lifetime.
I have a snapshot, an intensely vivid flashbulb memory.
And I remember it like it was just yesterday.
My grandfather was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia when I was about two years old. This is a special form of Parkinson’s disease in which Lewy Bodies (abnormal protein deposits on the brain) clump up and eventually cause the neurons in the brain to die. In a normal brain, these deposits would in fact help brain activity, but in a brain plagued with Parkinson’s, it does the exact opposite.
So, my family found out 17 years ago that my grandfather was slowly dying.
When I was seven, my grandparents moved in with my family. By this time, my grandfather was experiencing symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s disease, Dementia, and Parkinson’s combined: shuffled walk, severe hallucinations, and REM sleep disorder, as well as many others. Basically, my grandfather did not know who he was, or who any of his family members were, most of the time.
I remember the night like it was yesterday.
I jumped out of bed when I heard the screams around 2 in the morning.
My little eight year old body did not know what to do, so naturally, I started crying.
I ran across the hall to my parent’s room, but they were already awake. They heard it too. My mom grabbed me quickly as my dad ran down the stairs, pulling his shirt over his head.
I stood at the top of the stairs in my mom’s arms, as my dad pounded on my grandparent’s door below.
“Mom? Dad?” He screamed helplessly at the locked door. The dogs barked behind him.
The chaos was overwhelming. I buried my head in my mother’s embrace. I did not know what was going on, but I did know that it could not be good.
My grandfather banged on the door from the other side. He was delirious and did not know where he was, not to mention what was going on.
After finally convincing my grandfather that everything was okay, he coaxed him to open the door.
My dad disappeared into the room shortly after.
I looked up. “Mom, what is going on?”
“I’m not sure, honey.” She said through tears.
Now that the door was open, I could hear my grandmother wailing from their room. My father was consoling her.
My mom went to check out what was going on. Slowly, fearfully, I followed her down the stairs.
One step at a time.
I found myself standing in my grandparents doorway, crying. My mother was helping my frantic grandmother stand up from the corner. They both were crying. I looked over to the other side of the room. My grandfather was on the bed, crying, scared out of his mind. My father was helping him up. Crying.
I had never seen my father cry before.
This year, people diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia in the United States surpassed 1.3 million. That is nearly a sixth of all Americans diagnosed with some sort of dementia this year alone.
Although these numbers are shocking, the United States is not the leader in dementia patients worldwide.
In 2013, Europe had 9.95 million people who were diagnosed with some form of dementia. But, Asia almost doubled the United State’s numbers with a whopping 15.94 million.
These numbers are growing.
By 2030, scientists believe that dementia will rapidly rise: The United States will have 14.78 million with dementia, Europe will have 13.95 million, and Asia will have 33.04 million.
Scientists have yet to find a cure for dementia, but it is key for treatment that dementia is spotted early.
How can one do so?
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, if anyone struggles with any of these symptoms combined, go get checked by a doctor. After all, it is better to be safe then sorry.
– Memory Loss
– Difficulty Performing Familiar Tasks
– Problems with Conversation
– Disorientation to Time or Place
– Poor or Decreased Judgement
– Changes in Mood or Behavior
– Misplacing Common Items
– Changes in Personality
– Loss of Initiative
These vivid memories can last a lifetime.
I will never forget that day, but I will never forget any of the good days I spent with my grandfather either.