Archive for May 2014

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When a Loved One Has Alzheimer’s – Realization vs. Acceptance

Sunday, May 18th, 2014

Realization and acceptance are two different things. It’s one thing to finally realize someone close to you has Alzheimer’s. It’s a completely different thing to accept that fact.

After months or even years of being in denial, most people finally realize Alzheimer’s has struck. But many people never really come to accept the situation. Some never become at peace with the diagnosis and all that it means. They know it in their brains, but as hard as they try they can’t accept it in their hearts.  The bold truth is so painful we can push it to the back of our minds.

To come to terms with Alzheimer’s we must first let go of the previous person and embrace the new person – just as they are. And since that person will continue changing as time goes by, we must constantly let go of the old and accept the new.

We must fall in love again with the person as he or she is in the present and let go of the person we used to love. That person is never coming back in the same way they used to be.

We must learn to let go and learn to love again.

Another Resource for You: Caregiver.com

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

I have mentioned many resources for caregivers on this blog, including AARP’s sections on caregiving and The Alzheimers Reading Room, just to mention two. I recently discovered a new website dedicated exclusively to supporting caregivers. Although not limited exclusively to Alzheiemer’s caregiving, Caregiver.com, has many articles and tips about caring for people with Alzheimer’s. It also publishes a helpful magazine, “Today’s Caregiver.” Check it out.

Overcoming Denial When a Loved One Shows Signs of Alzheimer’s

Monday, May 12th, 2014

Alzheimer’s is, above all, an insidious disease. Its symptoms often begin so mildly and progress so slowly that it’s easy for friends and loved ones to deny them until one day there’s a ‘defining incident;’ an incident so bizarre that not even the spouse, child or other loved one can ignore it or explain it away.

Yet the disease typically starts with things of little or no significance. Not being able to come up with a common word. Mixing up someone’s name. Forgetting to turn off the stove. Things we all do from time to time. But for the person just entering the fringes of Alzheimer’s these things may begin to happen more and more often.

Years may pass between the earliest occasional confusion and the ‘defining incident.’ And during those years, the person may annoy or even anger friends and family members by being late, forgetting important appointments, being short-tempered, being unable to perform routine tasks, and exhibiting a whole variety of other troublesome behaviors.

But people noticing consistent signs of confusion and forgetfulness in a loved one should not wait for the ‘defining incident.’ One early action to take is to review the Alzheimer’s Association 10 Signs of Dementia and ask yourself whether your loved one is showing one or more of them:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work and at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Difficulty understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Losing things and the inability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

The Alzheimer’s Association web site has additional information about each of these items and explains how they differ from things ‘normal people’ do from time to time.

It’s easy to ignore these signs or fail to connect the dots, but when a loved one is showing them it’s essential to dig down deep into your soul and find the emotional strength to get a medical evaluation. No one wants to be evaluated, or have a loved one evaluated, for Alzheimer’s disease, but sometimes it has to be done – and the sooner the better.

 

What Are the Signs of Alzheimer’s?

Thursday, May 8th, 2014

I’ve published numerous blog entries in which I refer to the symptoms of Alzheimer’s, so I thought I’d take a minute here and list those symptoms. The Alzheimer’s Association lists the following as signs of Alzheimer’s:

  1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
  2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
  3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work and at leisure
  4. Confusion with time or place
  5. Difficulty understanding visual images and spatial relationships
  6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
  7. Losing things and the inability to retrace steps
  8. Decreased or poor judgment
  9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
  10. Changes in mood and personality

The Alzheimer’s Association web site has additional information about each of these items and explains how they differ from things ‘normal people’ do from time to time.

Coming Face to Face With Alzheimer’s – When You Can No Longer Ignore the Symptoms

Monday, May 5th, 2014

When a person is beginning to show signs of Alzheimer’s, that person and their loved ones are usually in denial. They may make excuses for, or try to explain away, the symptoms.

Alzheimer’s is, above all, an insidious disease. Its symptoms typically begin so mildly and progress so slowly that it’s easy to deny them until one day there may be a ‘defining incident;’ an incident so bizarre, so far out, so outlandish that not even the spouse, child or other loved one can ignore it.

Years may pass between the person’s earliest occasional confusion and the ‘defining incident.’ And during those years, the person may annoy or even anger loved ones by being late, forgetting things, being short tempered and confused, and a whole variety of other troublesome behaviors.

Some ‘defining incidents’ could include things like getting lost driving to a familiar place, driving on the wrong side of the road, forgetting the name of a close loved one, forgetting how to use the phone or the stove, or losing important documents, such as a passport or birth certificate.

When the person does things of this nature it’s probably time to go to a doctor for a complete workup. There’s nothing more chilling than having a loved one receive a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s, but when the symptoms become clear a visit to a physician is needed, and the sooner the better.

 

Moving on After the Death of a Loved One With Alzheimer’s

Friday, May 2nd, 2014

Grief must be fully experienced before you can move on. You need to allow yourself time to grieve. It’s important to take good care of yourself physically and emotionally during this time. It will also help to realize that with time your pain will lessen and you will be able to move on.

At some point – when you feel you’re ready – try to begin “returning to the world.” Take up a new hobby or go back to one that lapsed while you were caring for your loved one. Spend more time with the family members and friends you may have seen less in the preceding months or years. Some people also benefit from doing volunteer work.

Much to my surprise, one day I suddenly realized that I’d completely forgotten the third anniversary of Ed’s death a month earlier. That’s when I knew my grief was largely resolved.