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Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia Message Board
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Old 06-21-2008, 05:26 PM   #1
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question about the time frame...

Hi all, I am new here but I have been reading along for a week or so.

My mother hasn't been officially diagnosed yet, but she is going to the neurologist this week.

I am curious about the timeline Alzheimer's follows?

My mother is not well at all, but I wonder if it's true Alzheimer's or if there is another cause. (which I suppose we will find out from the doctor.) Her family physician hinted she thought it was Alzheimer's, though.

It started probably around early May... the forgetfulness. Mixing up appointment times and days. Little things. In this short time, it has progressed to her not knowing how to use the telephone, check her email, and not being able to type anything but jibberish. She's constantly losing her glasses. She always asks what day it is. She'll be almost FINE for a while, then have an "episode" of total confusion. She'll forget something that happend 2 minutes ago. It's usually late in the day her behavior changes - sundown syndrome.

She saw someone she has known for 30 years and could not remember this person. But the next day, she told me all about it and how she didn't know her then but she knew her now. She remembered seeing this person and remembered not knowing her! Very odd???

So I am just curious if Alzheimer's progresses so quickly. My cousin, a nurse, says no way...

 
Old 06-21-2008, 06:20 PM   #2
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Re: question about the time frame...

It's hard to say, but all the things you've mentioned are very familiar to me with my own mother.

My mom was living at home one year ago and I'd notice that she couldn't do the simplest daily tasks, or even remember how to use her life alert bracelet. I sat down with her and suggested an assisted living facility, which she wasn't really enthused about (who would be?).

Told her my fears and she agreed to the move to a very lovely place. I couldn't have asked for a nicer; reputable place for her to be. She was treated like family there.

Unfortunately, she became ill with pneumonia and was hospitalized. Just that brief stay in the hospital progressed her symptoms rapidly. She is now in a NH and it's amazing to me how in just 6 months she has changed so.

She's been to a neurologist; had an MRI, and has extensive leukomalacia. We all get the normal aging brain as we age, but hers is quite extensive, suggesting dementia/Alz.

So, to answer your question, it's probably best left up to the neurologist. Was your mom not exhibiting any changes at all until May? If it was an abrupt change, I'd say your cousin is probably right. But perhaps she's been having trouble and it just went unnoticed until then. My mom has been exhibiting symptoms for at least 6-7 years, but it really wasn't a worry until last November. We all would laugh it off as her just getting "old". When we noticed too many things that were not right, then we knew it was more than just age.

Best of luck. I know it's tough. It's nice to know that you aren't in this alone with this great group here on the forum.

Last edited by sunnydaze1; 06-21-2008 at 06:23 PM.

 
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Old 06-21-2008, 06:47 PM   #3
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Re: question about the time frame...

There are SO many different forms of dementia 'out there' that a guess of alzheimers is that, a guess. Nothing can really be figured out unless there's an MRI done of the brain to check for shrinkage or tumours or an autopsy at death.

Some of the dementia's DO progress rapidly ... others much slower. Picks disease tends to be rapid then slows down .......

There is no real formal 'time-line' to expect, because each person's brain is unique. Anybody who suffers from a dementia will have similar traits and levels, but when they get there and how they do it is an individual thing.

The 'rule of thumb' is that there is a life expectancy of roughly 10 years from diagnosis.

The doctor should be able to do a variety of tests on your loved one to discount anything else. Thyroid issues can mimic dementia, as can iron deficiencies and Vit. D deficiency. A simple UTI can cause havoc. The doctor should be able to do a 'mini mental' exam (a sample of which is on healthboards, just do a thread search)

Don't expect hard and fast answers. This disease doesn't let anybody put it in a box!!

Goodluck
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... your loved one hasn't forgotten you ... the DISEASE doesn't remember you

 
Old 06-21-2008, 06:49 PM   #4
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Re: question about the time frame...

Hi, thanks for the reply.

If she had any problems, they weren't very noticeable. She has some other health issues that all came about at the same time. In Febuary/March, she was told she had asthma. Then a mysterious back/leg pain started. She was still able to to drive, shop, and travel. Just in the last few weeks she has become almost housebound. And now we're told she may have alzheimer's/dementia??

My mother was never a sickly person! So for all of this to hit at once is quite distressing.

 
Old 06-21-2008, 06:57 PM   #5
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Re: question about the time frame...

Hopefully, you'll get the answers from a neurologist. I assume she's had all the routine blood tests for other ailments? How old is she? Has she had any recent surgery, no matter how minor? Sometimes anesthesia can have an effect on dementia.

In any case, like gemini said, it's unique with each individual. Let us know how it goes and I'll be thinking of you and her.

 
Old 06-21-2008, 07:57 PM   #6
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Re: question about the time frame...

My mom will be 74 next month. She did have some blood drawn last week. I know one was to rule out Lyme, but the others I am not sure. We haven't gotten the results yet. I have 2 small children and literally NO sitter, so it is hard for me to go to the appointments. My dad has been taking her, but he is not much of a talker so I don't always get every detail!

Interesting about the anesthesia.... she actually had a steroid injection at a pain clinic to see if it would help with her back pain. She was sedated for it, and felt terrible for days after. Since then, she's had a few bad episodes of behaving strangely, and getting "lost" trying to get in the shower. She was confused prior to that, but since the pain center's treatment it has gotten worse. I will definitely mention it to the neurologist.

Thanks so much.

 
Old 06-22-2008, 06:19 AM   #7
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janeslk HB User
Re: question about the time frame...

Quote:
Originally Posted by BayouGir1 View Post
Hi, thanks for the reply.

If she had any problems, they weren't very noticeable. She has some other health issues that all came about at the same time. In Febuary/March, she was told she had asthma. Then a mysterious back/leg pain started. She was still able to to drive, shop, and travel. Just in the last few weeks she has become almost housebound. And now we're told she may have alzheimer's/dementia??

My mother was never a sickly person! So for all of this to hit at once is quite distressing.

Did she start taking any different drugs at the time? Sometimes adverse reactions to statin drugs can cause unexplained pain and confusion. Just a thought.

Jane

 
Old 06-22-2008, 06:56 AM   #8
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Re: question about the time frame...

Singulair... which I have researched and found lots of side effects including confusion and memory loss. But she hasn't taken it for 2 weeks, so I don't know if we can blame it on that or not.

 
Old 06-22-2008, 07:01 AM   #9
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Re: question about the time frame...

Because of the variety of different possible reasons you truly need a physician to help you determine what is going on with your Mom. The rest is just guesses. I hope, for you both, that it is something that will improve with time and treatment.

If you had ask me 2 years ago, if I thought my Mom had ALZ, I would have told you no. There were signs and indications but my brain didn't connect the dots. Mom made what sounded like ligitimate excuses and we belielvled her. I don't think we wanted to see what was there. Then a situation occurred that make it obvious (Dad's hospitalization for an overdose of Xanax which Mom administered). I then looked back and saw some of the signals I should have seen earlier. In reality the signs and signals had been there, even if covered well, for several years before my brain became clued in. Since then it has been a freefall. She was diagnosed with moderate to sever dementia consistent with ALZ and nine months later (even with in home help) my parents were in AL.

I would definitely have her tested for a UTI. That little infection is make major changes in the elderly. Anesthesia can cause confusion that will abate in time. It can also increase the level of confusion in dementia as can illnesses, hospitalization, or change in location. There are a host of medical conditions that can mimic dementia. Thyroid conditions and calcium imbalances just to name two. There are also a number of different kinds of dementia that progress at different rates. Steroids can cause psychosis. We had an episode of prednesone psychosis with Mom. It definitely mimics dementia but eventually goes away. Medication changes can be a problem with the elderly so be sure of all the potential side effects of the drugs she is taking, even the rare ones. Statins have also been connected with confusions that mimic dementia. (I was in that 2% for a while) So you are going to have to watch her progression from here to truly know why her current condition and stay in close contact with her physician. It may be something temporary that can be treated or improved but then again it might be that whatever happened lead to a point in her cognitive abilities that made you take notice.

What you described does sound like cognitive impairment but the underlying reason why and a diagnosis is not as simple as labeling it ALZ. Hopefully the neurologist can give you some answers or you will find answers from the medical test. Don't give up looking for the answer. Research everything that has happened to her over the last few months and see if you can make any connections. As for the doctor, are you on your Mom's HIPPA so the doctor will talk to you? If you don't trust your Dad's explinations then you might want to talk to the doctor yourself, even if it is on the phone, to express your concerns and to get his conclusions. I did this with both Mom and Dad's doctors since I did not live locally and there were time I could not go with them to the doctor.

Welcome to the board but I truly hope that what you are dealing with is not dementia. If it is then stay put and keep typing. There are great individuals here that have been where you are. I know they were a great help, wealth of information, and major encouragement for me. They were my sanity.....

I will keep you and your Mom in my thoughts and prayers.....

Love, deb

 
Old 06-22-2008, 07:06 AM   #10
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Re: question about the time frame...

Just saw your last post. It took over a month for the effects of the steroid psychosis to reverse itself to the point we could leave Mom home alone. With my statin reaction it was about 2 weeks before I saw significate improvement and took a lot longer to get back to normal... though some would question my normality now

Love, deb

 
Old 06-24-2008, 05:48 AM   #11
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Re: question about the time frame...

Hi, Just wanted to update on my mom's neurologist appointment.

They asked a lot of questions about her history and she had no trouble answering them. They had her draw a clock showing the time as 3:20, which she did right away. For now, the neuro said he is going to focus on her back pain since that is causing her the most distress right now. Once that is resolved, he is going to see what is going on with the confusion.

I loved this doctor. Even my mom said "why didn't we come here before?"

Thanks again for all of your kind replies.

Last edited by BayouGir1; 06-24-2008 at 02:56 PM.

 
Old 06-24-2008, 06:35 AM   #12
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Re: question about the time frame...

Bayou, I am pleased that you both like the neurologist and he's working towards finding the cause of your Mom's problems. Hopefully you will have your answers soon and whatever is going on with your mom is correctable. Keep typing.

Love, deb

 
Old 08-03-2008, 05:48 AM   #13
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Re: question about the time frame...

Hello all, I never made it back here to update. A long story, but it was discovered my mom's health issues were not Alzheimer's related. She had widespread cancer. Bone mets, lung mets, and probably brain mets. We do not know where it originated. Sadly, she passed away yesterday, August 2. The cancer was much more advanced than anyone thought.

Best wishes to you all and thanks for helping me.

 
Old 08-03-2008, 06:06 AM   #14
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Re: question about the time frame...

I'm so sorry for the loss of your mother. Sending thoughts and prayers to you.

 
Old 08-03-2008, 08:23 AM   #15
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Re: question about the time frame...

Let me add my condolances as well. I am truly sorry for the loss of your Mother. I wish for you the courage and strength to get through these next few days and the weeks to come. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Love, deb

 
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