In this world, we need to love and be loved. We also need to feel a sense of competence or mastery in order to feel good about ourselves. Alzheimer’s slowly dismantles a person’s sense of competence. While living with this disease, the AD person and their spouse, family members, or caregiver(s) do an emotional dementia dance where the steps are always new and always changing.
Many of us will be faced with caregiving when our children are long grown and we are watching our grandchildren grow up. Some of us are faced with caregiving in our 40’s while our children are just beginning adulthood … or even earlier! We were one of those in the sandwich generation, helping take care of our parents and children at the same time. A bit later, I was faced with caring for my husband too.
When focusing on hospital admissions/stays the word delusions pops up a lot, especially when describing our elderly population. What is the difference between delusions and dementia? Here’s an explanation.
These adds infuriate me. They prey on people who have the diagnosis of dementia, but don’t realize how drug testing works. Yes, experiencing the beginning signs of memory loss can be a scary thing, and these adds are directed at your fear. Most of the items that appear in these types of adds are not really considered drugs. They are classified as supplements.
I have been thinking about sacrifice for a great number of years. The meaning I’m referring to is “to give up something usually for a better cause”. As a caregiver, I sacrificed a lot of things in my 19 years: autonomy, independence, companionship, sexuality, and financial security. Being in a very loving marriage, I had to help my husband through his disease. He had no choice, and I woudn’t even consider the other major choice which was to leave him! Some people do.
The Emergency Departments of today are scary places for caregivers and those with dementia. A person with dementia is essentially experiencing slow and steady brain death in various but relatively predictable areas of the brain. As the disease progresses, the person will have all of their senses affected in some way: sight (narrowing of the field of vision), sound (loud noises hurt and are scary, constant noise causing sensory overload), taste ( changes of likes and dislikes), smell (loss of detection of smoke, gas, chemicals, body odor, spoiled food, urine or feces) and touch (more sensitive). Because of these sensory changes, the caregiver constantly adjusts the environment at home to reduce anxiety and have a more predictable (routine) and successful day.
Holidays are exciting times of the year, but they can be very stressful and fraught with many pitfalls if you don’t plan carefully beforehand. When planning for those special events you must take into consideration how far into the dementia your loved-one is, how much help they will need, how quickly they become overstimulated, how much rest they require, and how much recuperation time they must have after the event is over.
The other night I had a dream, really a nightmare I guess. It was one of the most emotional and anxiety producing dreams I have ever had. The setting wasn’t clear, but I think I was in a high school classroom, and we were taking a test. It wasn’t all written. Some questions you had to answer on paper, some were multiple choice, but others were a test of following through with the directions and completing a finished product.
Most of the dementia drugs presently prescribed are cholinesterase inhibitors. To understand how this works in the brain, we have to learn how the neurons function. We have over 100 billion neurons in our brain. Neurons are the message relaying cells. They consist of a cell body that houses the nucleus , mitochondria, and other important systems that keep the neuron alive. Each neuron also has an axon, which is a long “conducting” tube that extends from the cell body. At the end of the axon are the dendrites or “small branches” that extend into the space between the dendrites of the next neuron. The neurons don’t physically touch each other, so how does the electronic message get from one neuron to the other?
Too often the caregiver doesn’t think about this scenario of becoming ill until it happens. At that time it’s really too late and way too stressful to deal with arrangements that need to be made. Caregivers need to think about the possibilities when they can think clearly, weigh their options, and plan with less stress. Here are some pointers in making plans in case such a scenario/sickness/incapacitation comes your way!