Judy Towne Jennings' husband was sick.
The seemingly healthy 64-year-old played tennis three times a week, but was suddenly falling on the court. At work, as a mechanical engineer, he found himself falling asleep if he closed his eyes at his desk for even a second. He'd lost his sense of smell, couldn't remember how to use the remote control and eventually began developing hallucinations.
Her husband was diagnosed with Lewy Body Dementia, a type of dementia that primarily features a cognitive decline, most notably the loss of analytical and abstract thinking.
In 2007, three years before her husband died, Jennings began writing a book about their experiences with the disease, "Living With Lewy Body Dementia," which the Fairfield, Ohio, resident will speak about Oct. 15 at Helena House Assisted Living in Port Royal.
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Together, Jennings and her husband "ganged up on the disease," staying positive throughout.
"I wanted to write a book because having his disease handled with great dignity, he never got down. He never got negative or yelled at me," Jennings said. "We both tried to have an adventurous attitude."
After her husband's initial diagnosis, Jennings, a retired physical therapist, made accommodations to keep him in their home, cherishing the time they had left together.
"Even though he was fighting dementia and having great physical problems, we still had a wonderful five years together," she said.
Jennings made home modifications so he could get out of the house, such as a wheelchair ramp. She called ahead to restaurants and spoke with the staff about her husband, who would make a large mess when he ate.
"I want to help wives and husbands be able to care for their loved ones in the home as long as they possibly can," she said. "It's a little different for every wife, but there are many things that I learned to do for both people to be safe in the home and for there to quality life.
"No one could take care of him as well as I could."
And now she's sharing what she learned with others.
"I was writing the things I needed to do to make his day as quality as possibly," Jennings said. "I thought if somebody came to me later and asked how to care for somebody with LBD, maybe I could have a manual to help them."