Based on people's posts in other threads, I know a number of us have loved ones (parents, inlaws, spouses, aunts or uncles) who suffer from dementia. I was hoping to dedicate a thread to those people (me included) who are dealing with the Journey of a Thousand Goodbyes.
My mom was diagnosed with Alzheimers three weeks ago. For the past five years, I knew her memory loss wasn't normal. She knew her memory was poor, but fear kept her from doing anything about it. Two and a half years ago, she promised to see a doctor about it, but she never did.
In January, I traveled to my home town to attend the funeral of my godfather. I spent a week with my parents. It was there I saw the extent her of memory loss and confusion. I always attributed her lapses when she was visiting me to the fact that she was not in her home and the stress of travel was making her worse. I'm sure it was to some extent, but that same confusion carried over to her own home. I also found out about delusions she had started having in the last month.
Her delusions are about money. In one, she was sure one of her brothers had deposited a large sum of money in her bank account, as settlement of their mother's estate. She was also sure that the brothers wanted the money back, and were going to sue her. My grandmother died 16 years ago, and the estate had been settled years before.
Then she fixated on Sears. In her mind, she had purchased a coat from Sears in December (she actually used her Visa) and she was convinced Sears was suing her for non-payment, and would throw her in jail. She went so far as to contact a lawyer about her predicament.
After I visited my parents, I wrote an email to her doctor, describing what I had observed and telling him that my dad would be making an appointment for her, so they could start tackling the memory issues. My father, who is afraid of creating any type of conflict, didn't make the appointment, but the doctor, bless him, called my mom, said he was worried about her, and asked her to come in.
After two evaluations from someone at the Alzheimers Society, my mom was diagnosed with mild Alzheimers. She was put on Respiradone, an antipsychotic, and that's all. I was very worried about Respiradone's side effects, but the Alzheimer's caseworker reassured me that first you deal with the delusions and anxiety, and then deal with the AD.
Within a few days of taking Respiradone, my mom came back, the fog in her head cleared and the delusions went away. She remembers more than she has in years, and her anxiety has decreased to the point that her drinking has decreased a lot. For years, she self-medicated with alcohol to deal with anxiety.
Now we're in the process of moving my parents from Ontario to my house in Vancouver. We're renovating the downstairs to set up an apartment for them. Given my mom's decline and my dad's lack of coping skills, they need to be with one of their kids.
A few weeks ago I was very upset and felt a lot of despair with the diagnosis, and the thought of losing my mom bit by bit. Now if she can continue this honeymoon period until she moves here, I can take care of her as she continues to decline.
As a last comment, I read "Still Alice" right after the diagnosis. It's an account of a Harvard professor who is diagnosed with early onset AD, and the novel is written in her perspective. It gave a lot of insight into how an AD patient looks at their disease and the world around them.
What is your experience with dementia? What challenges are you facing right now? Have you read some interesting literature on AD?
I look forward to reading your stories as well.