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Old 12-08-2003, 11:03 PM   #1
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Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

Before you answer this question, please don't look up any of my past posts. I want the answers to be based on experience and/or knowledge alone and not on what you think I want to hear. I accept the fact that not many people will be able to answer, but if anyone does have a clue concerning this question (and not just a personally calculated hypothesis or theory) I would certainly love to hear it. Here goes:

I've heard that a symptom of alz is that the patient forgets the recent years but remembers the early childhood years...often to the point where they believe they are still children. So, my question is..In recalling the early childhood years, does the patient remember things (s)he had long forgotten during the active adult years that again emerges as alz progresses, or does (s)he remember only what was never forgotten throughout the childhood and adult years, as the present memories fade? Or do the early childhood memories even OCCUR in the early stages of alz?

For instance, lets say the patient (we'll call Cathy, for pronoun-confusion control) waaay back at the age of 4 had a friend the same age named Lisa, and a dog named Spot. Let's say Cathy had moved soon after becoming friends with Lisa, but took her dog Spot with her and they grew up together. Soon, Cathy made new friends in her new town and had totally forgotten about Lisa and even her name, but continued throughout her life to remember Spot. Lets say Cathy goes through an active life, yet still doesn't recall Lisa, but Spot continued to be a fond memory. When Cathy develops alz, will she suddenly remember Lisa? Or would her memory of Lisa still be a loss to her along with the more current and recent memories fading away, while still remembering Spot? I have been told that nothing is lost in the memory once it has been placed there...like a hard drive...and that recalling is like trying to retrieve the data on the hard drive...the problem isn't that it's lost, but that it's difficult to retrieve (though I don't quite agree with this...but this isn't the issue). Ok, but if this is true, then would the forgotten earlier memories (including Lisa) be retrieved or would the always present memories (not including Lisa, but definately remembering Good ol' Spot) be strengthened to the point of a strong convincing sense of reality (like asking people to check up on Spot)? If she DID suddenly remember Lisa, would this occur during the beginning stages of Alz, or is this something that would occur near the middle or late stages?

I suppose what I'm trying to ask is if those posting in behalf of yourselves who are suffering from Alz have experience sudden bursts of memories long forgotten? Or if those of you who are posting in behalf of your loved-ones who have alz have experienced your loved ones mentioning that they had suddenly remembered things that had been long forgotten in the past? If so, in what stage of alz did this occur?

Thanks in advance for your replies. I hope the question wasn't too vague or confusing.
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Old 12-09-2003, 07:17 AM   #2
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Re: Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

What I have noticed about memory with my Mom is that she has no long term or short term memory. She knows her children (not always by name) and her husband. But if you try to talk to her about anything in the past, recent or long ago, she doesn't have a clue.

Her verbal skills are so limited that even if she DOES remember something, we'd never know. She uses made up words and sounds when she "talks" and it's nigh on to impossible to know what she means.

I don't know if this even comes close to answering your question but it's the best I can do today. (not having an "up" day)

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Old 12-09-2003, 06:21 PM   #3
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Talking Re: Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

This reason that this question is so hard to answer is that for each person who
has Alzheimer's, there is a different reaction or symptoms. Not all Alzheimer's progresses at the same rate. Effect people the same way. Or limit people the same or cause the same problems in each AD sufferer. As everyone's life experiences are different. And, as everyone's brain is different. You can see why you may ask this question to a hundred people and get 100 different answers that are for the general part,,,similar, yet none the same. Now I know that this is a rather vague answer. But, then again your question was again a little vague also.

I think that what you are asking is that, do AD patients remember long ago and do they remember it with more clarity than the present? The answer is yes and no. They remember long ago, yes. Do they remember it clearer, well "no", not really. See, it's not so much that they are remembering events like you and I would remember a baseball game we attended 40 years ago. It's more like they are watching the baseball game on TV and wonder why you don't see Babe Ruth also? "Well, there he is, right there you idiot, don't tell me you can't see him?" My mom didn't remember what her girlhood house looked like. But, she did want to go "home" to her "mom and dad" 'cause she was tired of playing at my house and her mom would worry because she had never stayed away from home this long before.

No, people are not actually remembering the past so much as they are caught in a time loop and they are LIVING in the past, in the here and now. The past is the present to them. You may ask me who the president is, I'd say George W....ask my mom and it could be Hoover or FDR. That's just the way it is. It's paticularly horrid if someone has been abused in childhood or their early years. This is especially horriable for them to relive that horror, everyday as if it is happening again, right now. It's not that today is hard to remember. I found that in most cases with digression that today, indeed, has not happened yet! And, no matter the degree of digression, if it's 1940, 1960 or yesterday,,,,,the brain is not connecting properly so facts will become less clear, not more clear as time and brain damage progresses. Not only do they digress back into time, but time and events become muddy and confused in a tangle of short circuts and electron miss-fireings, that short out in a tangled and confused mess. My mom used to love to go danceing. And in the present, right now, she was bed-ridden and 82. One evening as I tucked her in for the night she said, "CAll the boys will you, and tell them that we can't meet them tonight? I am just exhausted and just don't feel like danceing." I told her that I was also tired and didn't feel like danceing tonight either, and that I'm sure that the "boys" will understand and we can always make it another night. She was grateful for that. And she went right to sleep.

The human brain is a marvelous thing. It's just so sad and heartbreaking when it turns against you. And even harder still when it takes the one's that you love away from you, (inch by inch, cell by cell). And, especially when THEY don't even know it. It truely is a "LIVING DEATH".

I am sorry, but I can't be of much help. Everyone, you see, is different. I went to a Alzheimer's seminar last Spring. They said to think of Alzheimer's as a window blind. With the blind up all the way, it's today,,,,,today in space and in time. As the AD progresses, the blind slowly lowers. And, as it lowers it becomes just that much farther back in time for the Alzheimer's patient. You could also say that as the blind lowers, that there is just that much less life ahead also for that person, as we ALL have only a finite time on this earth. With the blind down half way the person will be in a mid-life time line. They may find that the home that they are living in now doesn't look like the one in 1950, or in 1962. They may want to know where someone is that died many years ago, and they may not even recognise people in their lives who are less than 20--30 or 40 years old, (because of course, they havent been born yet). Also, none of us look like we do 20-30--40 or 50 years ago, even if we are still alive. So, we may be mistaken for an older relative. (My girlfriend is mistaken as her mothers sister, because her mother has digressed to a state before her children were born ,and her sister died young. So, once a week her mother visits with her "sister" for a few hours. What harm is there in that? Once my friend found out, how and why her mom's brain worked, she no longer felt slighted by her mom's not recognising her. And was just glad to bring a smile to her mom's face every week, as she posed as her own dead aunt and happily chats away with her mom).

Alzheimer's is a crazy diesase. My only suggestion is to not curse what it has taken away, just be ever so greatful for what is still left.

Hope this helps,
Gizmo
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Old 12-09-2003, 06:41 PM   #4
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Re: Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

I think Gizmo has given about as clear an explanation as you'll get. I'm sure you have a reason for your quest, just not sure why and what it is. Sometimes they may remember something, and sometimes they are in the long-ago moment. One night, as I tucked my husband into bed, he said, 'thank you, Mommy'. My blood turned to ice and I had this strange feeling that I was seeing him thru my MIL's eyes, that she loved him and cared for him as a little boy and he was happy. So I was seeing my husband as my little boy--actually, I've never been able to get my mind competely around my feelings that night--but that's not unusual w/AD, so I don't think it was a memory, I think he was just in that long-ago moment and I'll be darned if I knew where I was! While it is true that we normally store memories and retrieve them from time to time, the AD patient cannot retrieve them as time goes on because the memory is 'lost' and you cannot retrieve what is lost. The brain cells are dying off and taking the memories w/them.

 
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Old 12-09-2003, 07:56 PM   #5
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Re: Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

Simply put, the AD/dementia patient is de-evolving and living (emotionally and cognitively) in the world of that moment.

They don't necessarily remember their childhood (as you or I might), they have become the child at that moment.

From what our psych told us, with my mom anyway, barring any FLD (front lobe dementia), her social skills will be the last to go, as they were learned at the earliest stages of her development. So, she may be seeing people in her house, but she treats them like visitors and offers them food and drink and is offended when they just sit quietly and don't accept her hospitality.

Such is the insanity of this disease

Best wishes!

Pat

 
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Old 12-09-2003, 11:35 PM   #6
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Re: Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

I can actually relate to what you're saying, Gizmo. I worked for a FF restaurant in high school, went to college, got married and then worked for another FF restaurant trying to make ends meet. I fell off some boxes there and got a mild concussion. I was out for a while and at the hospital, the nurse said something like "We called your husband and he's on his way". I told her I wasn't married. I asked her what happened and she said, "You fell at work trying to get ketchup bottles off a shelf". I thought she was referring to the place I worked at high school. During those years, I had problems with fainting, anyway, so I thought that's what had happened. I was very fortunate. Weirdly, that only lasted a few hours and it was strange the way the false present was slowly being replaced by the true present. By the time my husband arrived, I recognized him. But I have a mild understanding of how it feels to be living in another time...yet I probably have no idea the extent of what alz patients are going through.

The reason I asked is because I'm on a new medicine that has caused me to remember a LOT of my past. It's not listed as a side effect on the website, but things that I had totally forgotten (including a friend named Lisa when I was 4) is beginning to surface like it happened yesterday. I have to say I actually enjoy the memories. The more I sit and think about it all, the more I remember. I remember my sister sitting on a bed boasting that she was going to school. I remember also around that time when she was cleaning our room and was told that Mom and Dad were going to give her a whole nickel for cleaning the room. It was the first time I realized it was "that easy" to get money. I could go on and on the different things I'm remembering. It's cool and I would thoroughly enjoy it if I wasn't worried about the possibility of Alz starting. My grandmother had it, but she was much older. I'm 40.

I've been forgetting things lately, but I am now beginning to think it's due to being easily distracted. I have substituted a few words: Envelope for elevator, Symptoms for Simpson, and twice I substituted my old home town for a local town (which sound nothing alike). These are the only times this has happened, but now I'm thinking it's because I am getting distracted. I've been concerned about my brother lately, thinking a lot more about home, etc and I'm sure the distraction of him (which has turned out to be fine) is probably why I substituted my old home town. But the childhood memories happened soon after beginning this medicine.

I made a large purchase at a store today and forgot to present my employee card (hubby moonlights as security there). I never forget to present it, but I did today. Several times I had remembered it, begun to reach for it, and was distracted by the clerk handing me bags, telling me he didn't want to miss the "Charlie Brown Christmas" (too late, buster) or me writing a check. I find myself having to make everyone stop talking to me when I need to think. This was present before, but it has been very noticeable lately.

I'm just hoping (and fearing...to the point of obsessing) that this isn't the beginning of alz. The only diesase I would consider worse than this is one that would take my body and leave my brain highly functional (like Lou Gerihgs). I would much rather have my physical functions and ability to communicate, even if I am losing mental ground, than to be totally aware of everything around me and not be able to lift a finger. I've heard the beginning stages of alz are hardest for them, because they know what's happening. But the family suffers the most...especially if they fight it (which is hard not to do). But I think what your friend did was very sweet. And, I'm sure your friend felt loved by your mother also.

But, you all did help a lot.

Quote:
"You may ask me who the president is, I'd say George W....ask my mom and it could be Hoover or FDR. "
I'm going to assume you weren't referring to George Washington, Gizmo. [grin]

Quote:
"The brain cells are dying off and taking the memories w/them."
That's why I disagree with the Hard drive comparison. My last hard drive was so damaged that I couldn't retrieve data off of it.

Quote:
"So, she may be seeing people in her house, but she treats them like visitors and offers them food and drink and is offended when they just sit quietly and don't accept her hospitality. "
This is why support groups for something like this is so important. It seems the family and friends have a lot more learning to do than the patient. Y'all are angels for caring so much for your loved ones that you take time to come in here to learn how to adapt.

Quote:
"I don't know if this even comes close to answering your question but it's the best I can do today. (not having an "up" day)"
Your particular response really didn't, but it's reminded me that in this world of greedy, selfish, dod-eat-dog world, there are a lot of people who really care for others. I hope your day tomorrow is better.

I hope I'm not coming across like I think I have all the answers. I don't...and I know I don't. I think the true experts are not the doctors who prescribe and advise, but the families who live with this day in and day out. I've had very limited (though some) experience with this disease. I just hope that if the symptoms I have actually turn out to be alz, that my family will turn out to be as loving and caring (I'm pretty sure they are). But, your replies have begun to convince me it's just side effects, and nothing to worry about.

Thanks for your help.
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Old 12-24-2003, 10:15 PM   #7
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Re: Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

My doctor put me on a new medicine for adult attention deficit disorder. This was actually my request (specifically requesting a non-stimulant version) and he was all for it since the "alzheimers symptoms" seemed to clone what I was going through way back when I was in grade school. I had to concentrate more and my attention was always easily distracted. I lost things and was very disorganized. The symptoms seemed to disappear in high school, being replaced with a heightened sense of awareness, enthusiasm and irritability.

I haven't noticed a huge difference since taking the strattera but it has been very beneficial and it took a while before I noticed the benefits. It has offset my other meds so I can take the recommended dose of those without wanting to sleep all day.

Before taking the strattera, I found myself having to concentrate very hard in order to go to the store and back, which is just a couple miles away. I would end up in the wrong lane and would have to drive slow so I could figure out my next step. At the store I'd get overwhelmed by the variety of selections to choose from and almost always came home with things I would normally not get (because I just wanted to end the confusion, so I'd grab something) and forgot a lot of things I had on my list. I even forgot to present a discount card that would have given me $30.00 off. I went back with my husband to get the discount, we stood in a long line, the teller had to get manager approval, we had to wait until she waited on someone else (while waiting for the manager) and so to save time, my husband sent me to look for something while he waited it out in the customer service line. I looked around confused at the sudden change in floor layout before I discovered that I had directed my husband to the wrong store. Just as I remembered and turned around to go back to him, my husband greeted me with, "This isn't the right store, is it?" I was so devistated that I never went back to the correct store for the discount.

But, this morning I had to do some shopping and I didn't get confused about the products I needed, the types of products I needed and I didn't even need a list. I returned home with everything I needed. I also noticed that I was driving in "auto-pilot mode" without feeling like I had too many things to remember. I even remembered to get gas and to write down all the information that I normally did.

To put it simply, I felt like I was once again several steps ahead of the game instead of feeling like I was walking in on the middle of a movie and being left alone to try to figure out the plot while the movie was rolling along.

This didn't happen over night. I started on a low dose and the first pill made me feel like I never wanted to take another one again. But after the next pill, I was able to tolerate the side effects (which has never happened with a medicine before...usually it takes several days to get used to it). Then the dosage was bumped up some and again I felt horrible the first day but the second day I felt much better. I'm just glad I was able to give it a chance instead of giving up when it felt like I couldn't tolerate it.

I still have some difficulty trying to find the right words, but this seems to be happening less (though not enough to be totally certain). But, I'm not up to my peak dose, yet; so this may go away, also. I have noticed that it's easier to type now without having to stop every few lines to try to grasp for the right words.

I'll keep you updated if anything changes, but at this point, I don't think I have alzheimers (I'm too young to get that). My doctor thinks it's ADD manifesting itself again after being treated for something else that seemed to mask the ADD.

But, thanks for you're input.
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Last edited by VeryOldLady; 12-24-2003 at 10:24 PM.

 
Old 12-25-2003, 08:32 AM   #8
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Re: Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

VeryOldLady,
I find the path of treatment you and your doctor embarking on to be very insteresting. Please keep us posted.

Looking upon your posts, I would tend to concur that, with the symptoms you do present and the clarity with which you present them here, you likely do not have a dementing disease.

There are a number of AD patients who post on another forum I frequent and they clearly have a hard time elucidating their thoughts onto the keyboard. I would be curious to hear how long it takes you to type a post like your most recent one.

BTW, and I don't know your age, we also have a number of members (or loved ones) on the other forum who are in their 40's and 50's and have been diagnosed with probable early onset Alzheimer's (EOAD). So, it is very possible to get this disease even at my age (mid 40's)

Merry Christmas!

Pat

 
Old 12-26-2003, 01:19 AM   #9
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Re: Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

It's actually much easier to type than it has been. It could be the ADD medicine, or that Christmas is pretty much over and I don't have a lot of things on my mind or it may even be psychological. I try my best to look for the continuation of the worst symptoms when trying new meds so I won't be effected by drugs on a "placebo" reaction. But when I do see some good results, I still wonder if I'm imagining it. I try to keep a journal when trying new drugs.

Have I mentioned my .LOG trick in this forum, yet? Open Notepad, type in the very first line: .LOG just as I've typed it with a period followed by capital LOG. If it's in lower case or a space is before the word it won't work. Then save it, naming it whatever you want to keep track of (med reactions, daily events, baby's first year, etc). Every time you open it, the date and time will be stamped in for you. All you have to do is type and save. This comes in handy for doctors. But, I think I'm overdoing it a bit with mine. He used to read them, but when they got wordy, he tucked them away and said he'd read them later. I don't think he did and I don't expect him to read it without charging me more. LOL! But the point is if he has any questions, he has all that for reference. I type in the time I take it, the reactions I have them when I have them, etc. So, if I'm getting an itch 3 minutes after taking a pill, he could probably guess that it's not caused by the pill.

My last post took about 20 minutes at the most. This isn't including the few times I edited it (I'm an i-dotter, usually). But the other posts have been taking me about an hour or more because I would have a phrase or word on the tip of my tongue or my paragraphs would be arranged wrong. I would have to read what I wrote before writing any more, and sometimes I'd have to read it a couple of times or reread the entire paragraph to figure out where I was going. But, I had also noticed that I wasn't forgetting actions like keyboard shortcuts or any part of difficult software programs like Illustrator and Photoshop, which I had learned in the last five years or so. In fact, had to make some overhead layouts for my husband and felt that Illustrator would be the best program to use. I hadn't used that program in ...I'd say at least 9 months. But when I opened it, it seemed as if I had used it yesterday. I remembered everything about it and had no problems with it...no confusion at all. But, when discussing it with him, I couldn't remember the word "transparency" to describe the plastic sheet the diagrams and illustrations were to be printed on. I couldn't even remember "plastic sheet"...I said "see through stuff", but it was his idea to do this, so he understood what I was trying to say.

But, this is why I have been so confused. I couldn't remember simple words, but I could open a program and use it like clockwork. And yet, I would have to struggle to think when going to the store. It was all so inconsistant.

I appreciate your input camachinist. I'm not saying I'll never get alzheimers, but I don't think this is my time. They are doing a lot of research so hopefully if and when it is my time, they will have a cure.

I have a theory about alzheimers and osteoporosis going hand-in-hand. I used to volunteer in a nursing home and it seemed many people who had one also had the other. Both my neighbor who lived across the street and my grandmother also seemed to have both. But when you think about it, the bone loss has to go somewhere. I wonder if some of it gets lodged in the brain? If so, I wonder if some if it goes to the heart? My grandmother died of something heart-related (so they say).

I read a real inspiring article recently about a couple of doctors who have been married for 63 years-Georgeanna (91) and Howard (93) Jones. This couple have known each other since childhood. Both growing up in homes where their fathers were doctors, Georgeanna and Howard played outside on the hospital lawn while their fathers made their rounds. In fact, Dr. Georgeanna's father delivered Dr. Howard into the world.

Georgeanna and Howard were instrumental in bringing the first test tube baby into the world, Elizabeth Carr. Gorgeanna was the first doctor to discover that the pregnancy hormone is in the placenta instead of the pituitary gland and she was only 26 when she wrote the paper on it. Because of this discovery, they were able to develop pregnancy tests and now the rabbits get to live on. [smile] (I'm not sure it they REALLY used rabbits for pregnancy tests...I just threw that in there).

But now Dr. Georgeanna Jones sits in her office in the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine--which is named after these two doctors--, located in Norfolk, VA. She has alzheimers and when someone points out all the credentials on her wall, she says, "I don't know what those are. Someone just stuck them up there." She spends her day coloring in coloring books, being very careful not to go outside the lines. But, she still recognizes her dedicated husband who she adores so much (and he adores her). They are emeritus professors now, and they go to their offices every day because Dr. Howard Jones feels it is important to keep her in familiar settings. Dr. Howard feels a sense of relief because Dr. Georgeanna hasn't exhibited anxiety and anger, that usually accompanies alzheimer's patients. The doctors treating her credit Dr. Howard's loving relationship with his wife for her healthy sense of trust.

At this point, all the medicines tried on her are no longer taking effect, but I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Dr. Howard Jones has a hand in finding a cure for it someday...even at his age.
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Old 01-24-2004, 05:54 AM   #10
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Re: Not quite sure anyone can answer this question

Hi

Based on two different family members, both are/were very different.

I think this was because of the age they developed AD. My MIL was diagnosed at 59 and the disease went to final stages within 4 years. She didn't get a chance to "recall" any long term memories and could not converse.

However, another family member who is in her late seventies, is totally different. Short term memory is zero, but when I bring out old photos she remembers names of the people from 70 years ago, recalls memories and is very clear. However, the photos were needed to prompt a conversation. Once she started to converse, I could ask a question and receive a reply, before she would repeat herself. She would stay on the same photo repeating herself, until I showed her another one.

Doesn't fully answer your question regarding "Lisa", but I wanted to highlight, that my aunt never discussed about how strong she felt about the people in photos in prior years. Even though I have asked her in the past in the course of during the family history.

 
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