I have not been nearly as active on my blog and WordPress in general as I would like, and I want to share the reason with you.
I’ve been caring for my elderly mother at my home for the past 7 weeks. She had been hospitalized after a fall at her house in Indiana and I brought her back to Seattle with me to help her recover. I already knew it in my heart, but two days ago she was officially diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. And it’s fairly advanced, on the border between moderate and severe.
She will be with me for another three weeks, and then I have to take her back home to my dad. I’ll probably stay there for a week or so, to help her get settled in back at home. So, for at least the next month I imagine I won’t be much more active than I am now.
It has brought lots of things to my attention that I didn’t know before. Namely that no amount of “senility” is normal in the aging process. Dementia is COMMON in the elderly, but it is never normal, and any signs of “senility”, memory loss, confusion, etc. is NOT normal, and should not be accepted as part of the normal aging process. If you notice these signs, get your loved one evaluated by a geriatric specialist as soon as possible.
I noticed signs of what I thought was the normal memory loss that comes with aging years ago. But, it was mild, and we just thought it was part of getting old. If only we had realized the problem then, we could have slowed the progression of the disease.
I have also learned that there is a direct link between depression and dementia. My mom has suffered from severe depression for years. They aren’t sure if depression causes dementia, or if depression in the elderly is an early warning sign of dementia, but there IS a link. If an elderly person you care about has depression, don’t wait! Get them evaluated for cognitive impairment by a geriatric specialist!
Listening to my mother talk about her own thoughts of suicide to the geriatric psychiatrist was heart wrenching to me. Listening to her try (and fail) to count backwards by 7 brought tears to my eyes. When I talked to her, I knew she had some dementia, but when I saw that she couldn’t even draw a clock face with the hands showing 11:10, I was shocked. She still reads like there’s no tomorrow, but she could not spell WORLD backwards.
After things settle down for me, and I can devote more time to my blog, I plan to write a more extensive article on dementia, but until then I will leave you with one more plea: Get your elders evaluated early, by a specialist. The basic test they gave her was called the Folstein Mini-Mental. The earlier you get a diagnosis of dementia, whether Alzheimer’s or another form, the more treatment options are available!