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Friday, June 26, 2015

The Next Most Difficult Stage of Alzheimer's Disease June 26, 2015

Every new stage of Alzheimer's disease is difficult. Early symptoms which reveal something "off" when we relate to our parents or our spouse frighten us because we suspect what may be coming.

As our suspicions are validated, it is difficult to confront them and get ourselves or our loved ones diagnosed. When we hear the diagnosis and know, it is so hard to realize there is nothing we can do to alter or halt the progression of Alzheimer's disease.

If you have been reading and are prepared, you know how hard it is to change your wills, your own powers of attorney, manage your money and take charge of events you either always shared or left to your parents or spouse to sort out for themselves.

Each change which shows your loved one is losing his or her judgment, decision-making skills and short term memory hurts them, if they are aware of the changes and is hard for us to maintain our cool and not expect what they have lost to be regained.

As caregivers, we attend support groups, we pray, we do what has to be done. We don't talk about bathroom accidents or bedroom concerns--they feel too private to share, but they are so hard to manage, to get used to, to accept as our jobs.
We get used to having our loved one next to us all the time, for their security and ours. We worry less if we can see what they are doing.

Once we cannot manage on our own any longer, it is difficult to admit we need expensive help which may entail changing our own lifestyle further.

My husband and I have been through all of those stages. it is four years that he is living in a facility. Now he is beginning to fall. He hurt his hand and now he has hit his head. He doesn't understand how to use a walker. He is agitated and walks. If he gets a tranquilizing medicine, he becomes so lethargic, no one wants to see him like that. Once again, it is so difficult to find balance.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Noticing Changes in Loved Ones June 3, 2015

It has been a month since I posted to this site. The changes in my spouse are so difficult for me to process. How can he REALLY not know who I am? When I visit, he is passive. He does seem to have connections with his care providers whom he sees regularly, for which I am grateful. 
And they are all young, pleasant looking women, which makes some kind of sense, knowing my husband's fondness for looking at young women. There is still some of his personality recognizable, I guess.

But the subject for this post is a response to the many queries I get from folks who meet me, either for the first time or friends whom I have known for years.

"I think my spouse (mother, father) is going through some changes. Do you think he(she) has Alzheimer's disease?"

Let's begin at the beginning. A disease is something that interferes with daily life. When someone tells me their spouse is getting "hostile" which I gather they know from reading my book Put That Knife Away, there may well be many other reasons for this behavior than any disease. When a parent doesn't remember that you visited or phoned last week, that also is not sufficient for a diagnosis of illness. When a father-in-law whose wife just died wants to be left alone in their home, even though we know he won't be able to manage on his own, we can't jump to the conclusion that his judgment is impaired by a disease. It may be impaired by his loss, his grieving, his desire for everything to stay the same because change is so hard to process.

As a society, we are so afraid of Alzheimer's disease we do many things. We deny its existence or we see symptoms in everyoone we see. Sometimes we see symptoms in ourselves which we deny or become too depressed to deal with them. We either read everything we can online, or we don't deal with it at all.

A disease is something that interferes with everyday life. Obsessing about illness can interfere with daily life and become a disease. Try talking it out with the person you are concerned about. Ask questions. Don't jump to conclusions about your self or your loved ones. Alzheimer's disease is not preventable or curable. Worrying about it won't help. Enjoy your time together, make your days pleasant, take pictures, collect memories and if you are concerned about yourself or your loved one, start a journal and see how often a difficult behavior occurs. Take the journal with you to the person'e next primary care physician appointment and see if an assessment is needed.