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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.

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