One in six of us will have Alzheimer’s in our lifetime. That is a scary statistic.
My family and I survived Mom’s dementia diagnosis and all it entailed; getting lost, missed appointments, solicitation scams, denial, and fits of frustration.
We felt so alone in Mom’s confusion. I would have loved to have had the support of others to brainstorm with or offer solutions. You do not need to feel alone because we are here to support you.
“Something’s wrong with Mom in the head” Dad said. What on earth does that mean? We chalked it up to common forgetfulness. Although my siblings and I discussed it, we were in denial of the symptoms Dad was trying to alert us to. Like many families, we were all busy with our own lives: hectic schedules, jobs, family and kids’ sports.
Fear crept in and denial was not our intentional response, but we were all guilty of rationalizing the signs.
Some Signs of Mom’s Dementia and our Rationalizations
- Mom thought it was time for breakfast at 8:30 at night. Maybe she just woke up from a nap and was confused?
- It took Mom 2 hrs to drive 15 minutes to the hairdresser. Maybe she stopped at the store on her way?
- The garbage man said the trash was out front, but it was empty. She just got distracted and forgot to empty the trash under the sink?
- The tea kettle was burned dry. Maybe she just got busy and forgot about it? That’s why there is a whistle, so we don’t forget.
Importance of Early Diagnosis
Catching the symptoms early can lead to early diagnosis of dementia and a wider range of solutions. Medications if started soon enough, can prolong the inevitable worsening state of confusion. In Mom’s case, we waited too long and most of the medications available were not as effective as they could have been. That is why I want to help you catch the symptoms early!
A short excerpt from my book I Miss You Mom, a Daughter’s Journey into Dementia Land
Listen and Ask
In retrospect, I wish I would have thought to do a few things while Mom had more clear moments than confused moments. You really don’t know how quickly things can progress and I took time for granted. I can look back now and see that I was in my own state of denial, too. I have questions about family history, favorite purchases, and even silly things like recipes and stories. There were a lot of stories she told over the years that I just don’t remember clearly – who moved where and when, what my great grandfather on my father’s side did for a living, etc. Whatever happened to Grandpa’s paintings? My grandfather on my mother’s side, was an artist in addition to being a barber, but I never had the opportunity to see his artwork. I wish I had Mom write names on the back of family photos. There are slews of old family pictures from our heritage, but I can’t tell Aunt Dora from Auntie Lucille. Whatever you think you or your children may want to know and have never taken the time to ask, don’t put it off any longer. If it’s not already too late, do it now! If you don’t have time to write it all down, record a few conversations and you can reflect on it later when you have the time. A good time to ask questions is while driving together in the car. I found that isolated time very productive, but of course couldn’t write anything down while driving; I wish I had thought to record it.
Dad would mention on occasion that he didn’t think Mom was “right in the head.” It was hard to be there at the right moment to see what he meant, and he couldn’t always clearly describe the situations, or recall all the details. Although older than Mom, he still managed to consistently maintain a good memory. It is much easier to look back in that rear view mirror of life and see where I have been, than it is to see what is down the road ahead. The only advice I can pass on at this point is to confront the issue, no matter how difficult it is, even when you are dealing with your parents. They may not like it, but ‘helping’ is a good way to spend time and analyze what is really going on. My brothers would show up to look at a leak in the basement, or inspect something on the property that they thought might need a repair. With an older home, those incidents were as numerous as you can imagine. Dad was still convinced he could climb up a ladder and fix a leaky gutter, so they had to be creative and just do it. They would let him ‘help’ or more accurately, ‘supervise’ and direct them. Dad had been actively teaching us all our lives, so that part had not changed much.
If you’re on this path to Dementia Land with a loved one dealing with Dementia or Alzheimer’s, you’re not alone. I have been there and I want to help you along that path.
How can I help you?
- What is your primary concern?
- What stage of this debilitating and frustrating illness are you faced with?
- How can my research best support you in your journey?