My father has been diagnosed with mild alzheimers very recently. I feel at a total loss as to what i should do. The doctor said i should make an appt to discuss medication however i worry if this is the right coarse of action. He has some mood swings, alot of short term memory loss but otherwise he is fine. He is a very intelligent man who makes intelligent conversation, gives fantastic financial and legal adviceand discusses poetry.
With everything that i have read about the sideaffects of articept and other drugs, i worry about rocking the boat. If the medication does not agree with him is there a chance it might leave him at a worse state than before?
By the way he has totally forgotten that he has been diagnosed with alzheimer's. Should i remind him constantly? Im worried if i do so he might loose his self confidence.
Thanks for your time. I feel desperate for some advice.
No you should not remind him. BUT, you should start working on plans for the future. Unfortunately this disease gets worse.
Some of the meds available work for a while and it is worth trying them out. Aricept and Namenda are two of them. It was too late for them to do my Mom any good, but I have heard of cases where the decline was slowed, but not stopped.
It is important for someone to have power of attorney over your father's affairs, and health proxies for his medical care. In order to sign POA over to one of his family members he has to be entirely in his right mind. On a good day you can take him to a lawyer or notary and have it done. Just tell him 'this is important in case anything happens to you." You don't need to say that Alzheimer's is going to be the reason.
Now there is also good news. Researchers in Scotland are working on a drug which, they hope, will not only slow down but stop and even reverse the progress of this disease. You didn't say how old your dad is, but maybe he will be able to benefit from those drugs when they come out.
Meanwhile, try to simplify his life. Someone else should be balancing his check book, etc. Many of these people wind up writing huge checks to scam artists, donating far more money than they really can spare, buying mediocre insurance policies. Sad to say, scam artists can see them coming and make use of their disabilities.
A daily routine that stays pretty much the same is good. Large gatherings are not, they are too confusing. A conversation with one person is easier than a group discussion. If he says somehting totally irrational, do not correct him. Say something neutral like, well what do you know about that! and leave it. Getting into an argument is useless. Your feellings will be hurt, and he will not know 2 hours later why you are upset.
There are a number of good books on this subject available, try to get one or more.
I would strongly recommend that you give Aricept a try. It helped my grandmother tremendously for several years. I believe it kept her at home and out of a nursing home for a long time. She had been forgetful for a long time, but it was only after the dementia and hallucinations appeared that I asked her doctor to start her on Aricept. I was at the point of looking for a nursing home placement at that time, and decided to try the Aricept as a last resort. After about two weeks the dementia and hallucinations were gone, and they stayed gone for about two more years. I'm grateful now for those two years. She is now in a nursing home after breaking her hip two months ago, although the dementia had gotten so bad that she would have had to go soon anyway. Aricept does not work forever, and it does not work for everyone, but it bought me some time to learn more about the disease and plan for what the future was going to bring.
Aricept is most effective if started early, so don't let the fact that he is still functioning at a good level deter you from trying it. My grandmother's Dr. tried to start her on it very early on, when she was responsible for her own medical care, and she would not take it, she said that there was nothing wrong with her. At that time she was in control of taking her own meds, so there was nothing I could do. Maybe if she had started it earlier she could have gotten even more benefit. It's so easy early on to be in denial! I know I was. I chose to focus on all of the positive things she could still do and ignored the obvious warning signs of decline, until one night reality slapped me in the face when she went totally off the deep end. Please prepare yourself now for what is coming.
I really don't think there's any need to remind your loved one that he has Alz.
As you said, he won't remember it anyway. I never told my grandmother early on that she had Alz. She knew it deep down anyway although she would never have admitted it.
I wish you the best of luck in this journey. In coming to this board you have come to the right place for answers. I know it's been a valuable resource for me.
Martha gave you lost of good advice and Joel as well. The effectiveness of the medications depends on the person. It is worth trying. Keep a lot of behavior and possible side effects. That will help you determine what is going on before and after the medication is given. I have not seen any improvement since Mom started the Namenda and Aricept. Actually there has been a rather constant rapid decline. I actually think the namenda is contributing to her aggitation. But it is hard to tell. No medication can reverse the effects of this disease. It only promises a possible slowing of the effects.
Martha is right about the POA and medical documentation. Someone elses names should also be on all accounts. These are necessary for someone to handle his personal affairs and medical treatment when he can not do it.
Is he living alone? You will need to keep a careful watch on him. There will come a time, sooner rather than later, when he will not be able to live alone. simple task like fixing supper will become impossible or dangerous. Money seems to be a point where they slip quickly. They become a prime target for scam artist. They also forget to pay bills or pay them repeatedly.
I hate that you have to deal with this situation but you have found the right place. We have all been where you are. We do understand. This is a wonderful place to hear the experiences of others, get advice, find empathetic, sympathetic ears, to vent when necessary, and find support. So come back often
You have been given good advice from those of us who have been there and know how to help. I wish you luck in your journey.
As far as the medication........Mom did not do well at all on these two meds. Now thats not to say that your father won't benefit from them. I'm only telling you what happened with us. She became aggressive and mean and thats not at all my Moms personality. So these meds were stopped. You can try them and keep track of his moods like deb said. Mom did much better on another med soon after we stopped aricept. It took only a few days for her to be herself again. I wouldn't worry at this point in his disease about side effects, if bad ones occur, they will go away after the med. is stopped. Every one has a different reaction to meds. Mom is very sensitive to medication and will sometimes have a bad reaction to certain vitamins or minerals!!
I believe that Aricept is fine alone -- most of our problems with Mom seemed to be from the Namenda although my sister swore it 'boosted' the benefits of the Aricept.
I am glad that we no longer see mother grabbing her head and screaming 'no no no'.
While my sister cries it out and still clings to the desire to have my mother back at least she also adds "but not like she was with the illness".
I can't praise my sister enough for what her life on hell was. I even told the lawyer that we dealt with that I couldn't have done it myself and I wasn't much help to her in a hands-on way, especially as the decline was happening with my own nightmare of my husband's illness.