March 31, 2015 12:26 AM
Caregivers talk about the physical and emotional toll as the disease progresses.
“Have you childproofed the house yet? Take all the knobs off the stove.”
To category page
March 31, 2015 12:33 AM
My mother-in-law showed the first symptoms of Alzheimer's in about 2005. Perhaps a bit earlier. She would leave the house late at night, insisting it was day time. Then she'd head to the bank, drug store or her doctor's office and then tell us tales of her adventures and how strangers helped her. We took her to the emergency room once when we thought she had a stroke. After a 4th or 5th night incident we took her to her regular physician who had her admitted for evaluation. She had to have 24/7 supervised care. Her license and her car keys were taken.The worst part though was to come as we later found out that her lawyer and a bank trust administrator took advantage of her disability and compelled her to change her POA and testamentary documents. They destroyed all of her estate planning and changed it to the bank's advantage. It makes a fortune from her.She died this last October. What the bank and the lawyer did is headed for the courts. Alzheimer's victims need legal protection.
I think that two close relatives of mine are in the early stages of dementia, probably not Alzheimer's. Their spouses are also old, but lucid, but not able to deal with all the implications that will come. I live too far away and with a young family of my own, so I cannot easily help. The burden will mainly fall on others. This will only get worse. I hope that research will really find some therapies that slow the effects down, if not 'cure' the disease(s).
March 31, 2015 12:32 AM
Such a cruel disease. But these stories are inspirational too. How about the love that each couple exudes!
In 1982, I cared for an elderly lady with Alzheimer's disease for a full year. Although I was a complete stranger, she amazingly always accepted me, but whenever her son or daughter, in their 50s, came to the house, she would always reject them, leaving them with painful hearts and me with great sorrow.The time came when the elderly lady could not hold her bowels, so she was placed in a nursing home. After a few visits, I could not bear to go back because she had forgotten how to eat and was wasting away.I believe that this non-preventable disease should be the top disease for medical research, yet it seems to take a backseat. A relationship with God helps greatly in coping.
Excellent read. My mother just passed away in February. She had been suffering from Alzheimer's for three and half years. I can completely identify with the folks featured in this article. Hope there is a cure for this terrible disease soon.
March 31, 2015 12:30 AM
I just saw a screening of “Still Dreaming,” an amazing documentary about two top of the line Broadway directors (Into the Woods) going into a retirement home for former entertainers/ actors/ stage people and in six weeks creating a production of Midsummer’s Night’s Dream with the residents as cast, some of whom have Alzheimer’s and various other disabilities. Amazing movie, beautifully shot. It hasn't been released yet, but it's worth looking out for it when it does surface. You can visit the website at stilldreamingmovie.com
Reading these stories conjured up memories of my very similar Alzheimer story of when I cared for my mother. Every Alzheimer's story is a horror story with this just being a glimpse into how destructive Alzheimer's can be to patients and their caregivers. It drains you deep down to your bare bones and takes years to recuperate. I am still trying.
The best thing to do if you are diagnosed with Alzheimer's is to commit suicide while you are still a person. Some people have done that -- bless their souls.
March 31, 2015 12:29 AM
If you have a family member with Alzheimers, you should watch "Alive Inside: Music and Memory". It is a wonderful documentary and very inspiring.
I know it wasn't the thrust of this article, but are we any closer to either a cure or at least something that slows the progress or this horrible disease?
March 31, 2015 12:28 AM
Alzheimer's is the most heart breaking condition which we serve in our Home Care agency. It used to be that mobility was the foremost concern of seniors. Now it is keeping the mind agile.
There is a new book that is a great resource for caregivers and other close friends and relatives of someone affected by dementia. "Second Forgetting", by Dr Benjamin Mast, gives very understandable insights into dementia, how it progressively disables the individual. It also is a source of hope in what seems a hopeless situation. I highly recommend it for caregivers and for those who support them.
I recall years ago when my Mother was helping care for my Grandmother who had the disease. She was convinced my Mother was trying to steal my Grandfather and called 911 a few times on my Mother over that. She lived in the greater Los Angeles area and was confused every day why Chicago looked different. She told me she didn't want to go to school because she thought she was 8 years old but simultaneously she was fully aware I was her adult grandson and remembered nearly everything about me. She was also confused as to why my Grandfather suddenly aged 50 years.So, yes, a woman thought she was 8 years old and had a 28 year old Grandson, a husband who was 40 but really was 90 and my Mother, her daughter, was trying to steal him away.Very weird and very stressful disease to deal with.
God Bless the caregivers.
March 31, 2015 12:27 AM
Losing a loved one to death is not as bad as slowly losing a loved one to a living nightmare! Alzheimer's is a living nightmare !!
The only thing worse than loosing one's mind, is knowing you are loosing your mind.
My wife lived in the confusion of Alzheimer's Disease for nine long years. No one can imagine what it is like to have the misfortune of being the victim of this awful disease! And, unless you are the principal care giver, it is difficult to know what that is like as well.I sought solace in reading about the experiences of others and I can recommend "Dancing on Quicksand" by Marilyn Mitchell. The subtitle is: "A gift of Friendship in the Age of Alzheimer's".