Ironically It Was Almost As If We Forgot She Had It
Because as a family we adapted, Mums dementia was the thing we lived around.
And thats the thing. People with dementia find so many ways to live around their deficits, that for so long, though life is altered from what it once was, it is still essentially the same. Until the day that it isnt.
Mum plateaued for so many years, retaining her autonomy, that when the decline came, it floored me. It was as if we were meandering along and then, without warning, we just fell off a cliff.
Tips For Communicating With Your Parent
- Avoid power struggles. Dont push, nag or harangue your parents. Making ultimatums will only get their backs up, and yelling, arguing or slamming doors could seriously damage the relationship. Laura Ellen Christian, 15 Expert Tips for When Your Aging Parents Won’t Listen, The Arbor Company Twitter:
- Ask about your loved one’s preferences. Does your loved one have a preference about which family member or what type of service provides care? While you might not be able to meet all of your loved one’s wishes, it’s important to take them into consideration. If your loved one has trouble understanding you, simplify your explanations and the decisions you expect him or her to make.
How To Recognize Early Dementia Symptoms
The Alzheimers Association identifies 10 early signs and symptoms of dementia that can help Alzheimers experts and medical professionals diagnose dementia earlier:
Diagnosing Alzheimers and related forms of dementia early may allow someone experiencing the symptoms access to new drug trials, giving them a broader treatment plan with more options. Additionally, an early diagnosis can help you and your family plan financially and legally for your future.
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Dementia Symptoms To Track In Elderly Parents
No one knows your parents personalities, hobbies, or quirks like you do. So if you notice unusual behavioror experience a persistent feeling that something is offtheres a good chance it is. Aging is a well-known risk factor for Alzheimers disease and other forms of dementia. In fact, the risk of developing Alzheimers disease doubles every five years in people 65 and older.
Learning to spot key dementia symptoms in aging parents and documenting the early stages of dementia can make a big difference. Your observations could provide helpful insight to doctors, which can lead to a quicker and more accurate diagnosis. Discover eight dementia behaviors to track and how to get a diagnosis and treatment.
What I Wish I Knew Before My Mothers Alzheimers Death
As with many Alzheimers patients, it was the family who suggested my mother get her memory tested. She was 68 years old, repeating herself, losing things and occasionally paranoid and combative with my father, something we had never seen from her before. We thought she might be depressed, but the notion that she might have dementia crossed our minds. She was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment, the earliest stage of forgetfulness, in 2008, but was not officially given the diagnosis of Alzheimers until 2010, when she had an epileptic seizure. After that, her memory and cognitive faculties deteriorated sharply.
This is not the story of an Alzheimers patient swinging between the ignorance of their forgetfulness and the panic of watching their own ongoing decline come into focus, nor the story of the fear, the bouts of irritability, and the deep sorrow felt by family members watching their loved one slowly disappear before their eyes. We went through all that, yes. But this is the story of the last three excruciating months of my mothers life. She died in her familys arms at the age of 76, having battled Alzheimers bravely for more than eight years.
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What Its Like Losing Your Mom To Dementia
Living with the emotional side of caregiving is just as hard, if not harder, than managing the physical tasks. Our friends at Kindly Care
Lots of people talk about the practical complications of dementia and Alzheimers, but few have addressed the true cost of these diseases to friends and family: effectively losing a person you love and rely on. For Cassandra Jones, that meant seeing her mother Deana diagnosed with semantic dementia at just 50 years old slowly drift away.
Dementia is a progressive disease, and the medically-accepted stages dont always arrive one after another. In fact, those living with dementia often slip in and out, lucid one moment and unaware of their surroundings the next.
In the beginning, she used to say things like oh my brain is so stupid, oh I used to be so smart, and that just really makes you feel so sad because I know what a smart woman she was, Cassandra added. She was such a wonderful teacher.
Now, Cassandra with help from her sister, father, and volunteers from their church provides daily care for Deana that even includes helping her shower.
It makes me wonder, how much does she know right now? Does she realize whats happened to her?
Cassandra has a young family of her own, and not having her mom around as a sounding board has been particularly rough.
Because Im younger and Im just starting out with my family, there are a lot of times when I have questions and I need motherly advice. I just want a mom to talk to.
Losing My Mother To Alzheimers Stirred Need To Raise Awareness
It is disheartening to see someone you love lose their memory and aptitude to do things on their own due to sickness. Stirred by her own anguish, when 71-year-old Helene Nkerenke lost her beloved mother to Alzheimers disease in 2016, she decided to write a book to raise awareness on the disease and its effects.
The book also conveys awareness about the signs of the illness so that it can be identified as soon as possible. Experts say that Alzheimers disease is a gradual neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink and brain cells to die. The illness is believed to be the most common cause of dementia an incessant decline in thinking, behavioural and social skills that affect a persons ability to function independently.
Nkerenke recalls observing her mothers demeanour change utterly with time she had started being very clingy, argumentative, abusive, and forgetful. Although it bothered her , she assumed it was perhaps a result of old age.
Helene Nkerenke, a first-time author. Photos/Joan Mbabazi
My mother ceased minding about her appearance, I remember a time she went to the garden in her nightdress. She became paranoid, contemplating that people would steal her things, which she hid in places they werent supposed to be, she says emotionally.
Being a registered nurse, Nkerenke hadnt dealt with the condition before and Rwanda, just like many countries in Africa, had inadequate resources to diagnose it.
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There Is A Genetic Test For An Alzheimers Gene But It Doesnt Predict If Youll Get The Disease
Scientists identified one gene, called APOE, that has been shown to potentially affect your risk of developing Alzheimers disease. Genetic testing, for example through the at-home testing company 23andMe, offers a test that will discover if you have the version of the gene, called APOE-e4, that is associated with an 15- to 20-percent increase in the likelihood of developing Alzheimers. Every person has zero, one or two copies of APOE-e4, and the more you have, the greater your risk.
However, its important to remember that even if you do have the bad gene, that doesnt necessarily mean you will get Alzheimers disease. Not everyone with the risky gene gets Alzheimers, and not everyone who has Alzheimers has the risky gene, so its not a predictive test.
My Mother Keeps Repeating Herself
While increased awareness is certainly a good thing, its difficult to distinguish between the common effects of aging and signs of early-stage dementia.
Keep in mind that there are still no medical tests to confirm dementia or Alzheimers with absolute certainty, so its even a challenge for medical professionals to draw the line between senility and dementia.
So, while its important to keep an eye out for the 10 signs of dementia in aging family members, its even more important to be patient and supportive.
Even if youve heard the same story 10 times today and triple that over the course of the week, its critical to preserve the seniors sense of dignity and respect especially if you suspect that theyre showing signs of Alzheimers disease and dementia.
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Alzheimers Related Myths And Misconceptions
Some other common misconceptions revolve around causes, prevention and cures. You can read more from the Alzheimers Association. As far as prevention goes, theres little proof for specific vitamins or supplements. But, overall nervous system/cardiovascular health is important, so keep your brain healthy with a balanced diet and exercise. We also researched The Best Brain Boosting Hobbies. Heredity does play a role, but only a small percentage is familial Alzheimers. So, it is not automatically true that you will develop the disease if your loved one had it.
The Downturn Of The Mind
Courtesy of Katie Parsons
I first noticed that my mom was acting strangely when she came to visit after the birth of my youngest daughter in 2014. By then I was living in Florida married, with five children under my roof through a combined marriage. My mom wasnt her usual bubbly self and seemed short and agitated with my children. She got lost on a walk with my youngest one day and seemed to not even understand how it happened.
Subsequent visits showed the same bizarre behavior, with increased intensity. I knew something was wrong, but could not get very far trying to talk to my dad about it.
A public relations project took me to San Francisco in 2016. My mom flew in to hang out with the kids and help my husband while I was gone. By the first day of my trip, my husband texted me to say that my mom was having a hard time. She seemed confused and kept asking when she was going home. She sat with her suitcase in the living room, asking when my dad was going to pick her up. She seemed happiest doing dishes but just kept doing them, over and over, apologizing to my husband that she was probably doing them wrong.
Courtesy of Katie Parsons
It would be another three years before her Alzheimers diagnosis was official, with emotions at all-time highs between me, my brothers, my dad, and my mom herself.
What Are Some Warning Signs Of Dementia
Any change in a loved ones ability to think or make decisions warrants a conversation and a trip to the doctor. Some of the most common warning signs of Alzheimers include:
- Difficulty planning, solving problems, or completing basic tasks, such as finishing a familiar recipe.
- Memory loss that affects daily life. For instance, a senior might forget their keys so frequently that they no longer feel safe leaving their home alone.
- Confusing time or place, such as by thinking they are in a different time or location.
- Increasingly poor judgment.
- Forgetting familiar people.
Many people see Alzheimers and dementia as synonymous, but Alzheimers is just one manifestation of dementia. Symptoms of other types of dementia can include:
- Memory loss or thinking changes associated with a cardiovascular problem, such as stroke or high blood pressure.
- Word-finding difficulties.
- Difficulty reading, writing, or understanding language.
- Sudden changes in personality. For example, a once reserved senior might become impulsive or aggressive.
- New or worsening mood issues, such as anxiety or depression.
- Changes in movement. Seniors with Parkinsons may shake, while those with frontotemporal dementia may have a slow or unsteady gait.
Top Tips For Dealing With A Parent Who Denies Dementia Symptoms
Top Tips for Dealing With a Parent Who Denies Dementia Symptoms
According to the World Health Organization, there are over 50 million people living with dementia. It is the leading cause of a loss of independence in seniors and one of the hardest diseases to accept.
So what do you do when your aging parent refuses to admit there is a problem?
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What Can I Do To Make My Loved Ones Life Easier
Dementia does not mean the end of an active, fulfilling life. Dementia is a progressive disease, so many seniors are able to live independently for months or years following a diagnosis. Others need more immediate help. Providing your loved one with a supportive, safe environment that is not excessively restrictive is key to helping them remain happy and healthy. The right senior living community can support your loved one and help them continue using their natural gifts.
Some other strategies to help your loved one include:
- Being patient and sympathetic.
- Helping them talk about their feelings.
- Encouraging them to remain physically active.
- Helping them find simple activities they enjoy, such as gardening or painting.
- Listening to music from their youth.
- Not correcting them when they make a mistake.
Make A Plan For Paying For Long
Despite popular belief, Medicare does not pay for long-term care. Medicaid typically does not pay for care in an assisted living facility but will pay for care in skilled nursing facilities and at home â if your parent has limited income and assets. It is possible to spend down assets or transfer them to qualify for Medicaid. But your parent should work with an elder law attorney to develop a strategy.
If your parent has long-term care insurance, review the policy to see how much coverage your parent has. Youâll be able to use this insurance to help pay for care at home or in a facility for a certain number of years or perhaps for a lifetime up to a certain maximum dollar amount. If your parent doesnât already have long-term care insurance, she wonât be able to get coverage with an Alzheimerâs diagnosis.
Look for Alzheimerâs support groups in your community or connect with your local Alzheimerâs Association chapter.
One other option is a life settlement. If your parent has a whole life insurance policy with cash value, he might be able sell it to a life settlement company and get a lump sum of cash that could be used to pay for care. The amount received will be higher than the cash surrender value of the policy but less than the death benefit.
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Is Repeating Yourself A Sign Of Dementia
What does it mean when a person keeps repeating themselves? It may be a sign of dementia, though it hinges significantly on the context of the situation.
When were talking about a senior who repeats the same stories at family gatherings, thats probably not a sign of dementia. Rather, its the seniors way of contemplating their legacy and important life lessons through the sharing of meaningful experiences.
In other words, when your father tells the same WWII story every time the grandkids are gathered around the fireplace, its his way of searching his memories for meaning and sharing those life lessons to secure his legacy with future generations.
After all, we all want to be remembered and leave a mark in the world especially with our friends and family.
However, if a senior continues to repeat themselves in a single day perhaps telling you for the fifth time that they saw an old friend yesterday, or reminding you over and over that they have a doctors appointment tomorrow that could be a sign of short-term memory problems that may be associated with early-stage dementia.
In such cases, its important to evaluate this potential symptom in conjunction with the other 10 signs of dementia. You cant make a diagnosis on this fact alone as memory loss is an expected part of aging and senility, but it could be an important piece of the overall puzzle.