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What is the difference between "dementia" and "Alzheimer's?"

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QUESTION: 

I need to get my father to the doctor for a cognitive assessment AND HE REFUSES TO GO!  My wife and I live with my dad, and we are noticing his memory loss with his practicing (he plays the oboe and violin).  New notes and phrasing he learns one day, disappear the next.  He is missing rehearsals altogether, or when he's rehearsing his performance is declining.  His long term memory seems okay, but learning new music fades immediately.

When I bring this up to him, he says he talks to his other musician friends about his forgetfulness, and they all joke and say they have the same problem and not to worry. Consequently, dad’s response to my request of getting a cognitive test is always, “I don’t need an appointment,” and he just won’t go.

SUGGESTION: Try saying, “Maybe not right now, dad, but there are things we are noticing that we feel are serious to your safety. I’d simply like to get a baseline for future reference. Would that be okay?”

SUGGESTION:  That needs to be memorized word for word!  I'm sure he is scared, aware and ashamed of his shortfalls, my Mom was, so I took a breath and spoke from a calm, concerned place.  I'm sure you do this already, but still give him the option and dignity that he has input and can make a decision, but I would start asking him more and more often.  Make notes of his declining behavior(s) to share with him.  Just so you know, in Support Group, it took some of the other people months to get their parent to the neurologist for an assessment, so just start the process.

QUESTION: 

How do take away the car keys?  My dad refuses to NOT drive and he is a danger to himself and everyone else.   

 

MEMBER SUGGESTION: I disabled my mother's car. I pulled the battery.  She called and said the car wasn't working, so I had it towed.  I made excuses for a few weeks, then eventually told her the vehicle was never coming back.  I explained that her skills and reflexes were dangerous to herself and others.   I explained we could lose everything if she caused an accident of any kind.  I said I would transport her wherever she needed to go. I was calm and resolute.  

GENERAL GOOD ADVICE:

 

This is an imperative suggestion for anyone gathering important documents i.e. DMV, an attorney, Insurance Agency, any "company" of authority.  Whatever you are copying, make a copy of ALL DOCUMENTS.  Just because a document says "This page left intentionally blank" doesn't mean it is meaningless.  COPY EVERYTHING.  HAND OVER EVERYTHING.  I was sent home to get these documents and cried the whole way I was so frustrated.

 

 

QUESTION:  My sister and I live together.  We both have Alzheimer’s but my symptoms are not as progressed as my sister, Donna.  I still volunteer at the hospital a few days a week, I can walk fine the two miles to and from.  I came home to find Donna on the floor unable to get up. I heard about ADT Security having a system in place just for this problem, a button Donna can wear and push, then speak to ADT. But Donna’s Alzheimer’s is so progressed, I'm afraid she won’t even know what wearing the button means or what it’s for! Any short term suggestions?

SUGGESTION:  I'd go for the ADT system anyway! I had this system and two times my mom fell.  First time she pushed the button and was able to hear and talk to ADT, the second time she was out of communication range but could push the button.  Good thing about that ADT system is if they don’t hear you respond, they send help regardless.

Maybe ask the hospital for their suggestion or opinion about Donna's ability to discern using an ADT Button, or if she now needs full-time supervision for safety sake.  Or maybe you both can move together to an Assisted Living so you can still work and have independence? Or is there a neighbor who can check in on her for you?

QUESTION: 

My mother-in-law lives alone with her pets.  Her diagnosis is unclear, she stabilizes for a time, then she takes a nose-dive. She can still feed herself and her pets, but this is progressing fast and we are worried about her and the animals being alone.

I put up two-way cameras to keep an eye on her as well as be able to talk to her.  We hired a caregiver to come in a few hours a day, every day. 

 

All of this is taking a toll on my family because my wife and I are very worried and highly stressed, even the kids are feeling the pressure too.

Is there anything I’m missing, or needing to do to keep an eye on her so that maybe our lives won't be so anxious?

SUGGESTION: I applaud the camera idea, and I think you are doing everything you can for now.  Unfortunately, this will digress and only get worse.  If you can, I would get a diagnosis, there are over 75 forms of dementia, Alzheimer's being the most common.  Once you are armed with that, you and your wife can make further decisions for care from a place of knowledge.  Maybe also think ahead about a different living situation for her such as Assisted Living or more caregiver hours.  This is a lot to handle, I know, but your lives will be less stressed the more educated you are.  You are already so proactive in doing everything you can to keep her safe, kudos to you.

SUGGESTION:  This may not be totally relevant but when my Mom visits, I appreciate the ADT Security that “beeps” when a door is breached.  Those beeps have alerted me she has opened a door to the outside.  What a bonus!

SUGGESTION:  What great input from our Community, thanks gang! I think the ADT System is terrific for many reasons, I had this feature for Mom and it made me feel better knowing help was there when I couldn't be.  It worked for our needs until it didn't, I think it worked for about a year, then Mom needed more supervision and I moved her to Assisted Living. 

 

"It's nice to know there are other people facing the same trials as we are."

Lady Mary Crawley

              - Downton Abbey

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