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Old 12-08-2011, 10:02 PM   #1
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Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

Hello everyone,

I've been reading you all for awhile. I'm not sure I belong, but I feel like it's time to ask.

My SO is in his late 60s. A few years ago, he began to not be able to work or care much about it. I thought maybe he was just burned out and ready to retire. But, he also had a few episodes of getting turned around and lost in the neighborhood or locking himself out of the house, a few other little things, like not remembering the difference between a zucchini and a cucumber, or kale and lettuce. Nothing so dramatic that it was obvious to others, but I began to wonder.

Fast forward to now, and things are still the same, only more so. He has incredible long term memory, really sharp. He's great at Jeopardy. And, he can talk about his interests in great detail. But, he's unreliably finding his way places sometimes, and can't seem to manage simple things like working the coffee maker or tv. He also has episodes that just seem crazy to me. He became obsessed tonight because he thought I was starving the cat to death, declaring she was way too tiny. The cat is small, but has been the same size for years.

The other morning, we went to the store together. When he missed the turn, I asked him where he was going. He then knew he had missed his turn and doubled back. Shopping was difficult, him repeatedly confused and not understanding what we were buying and why. Not in a very overt way, but things like thinking we should get way more of some things than we could ever consume, or misunderstanding what we needed at all. He then took many turns too many to get home and promptly started getting ready to go meet a friend for lunch. At 10:30 he told me he was leaving. I asked him if he knew what time it was. He had misjudged by an hour or more what time he needed to leave. So, he sat down in his chair to wait, one I pointed out how early he was.

This is a typical day. Including what happened next. He went to lunch with his friend. The friend reported after lunch that they had a great time and that my SO was a big thinker and always engaging.

My SO came home, was just fine and very "with it" all afternoon and into the evening.

Because he does well with others, and has hours and sometime days of great clarity, I often wonder if I am being duped, or am too critical of what could just be aging. He goes places on his own, can shop unaided, is very good at helping and cleaning and gardening, nothing going on that any neighbor would suspect anything. But, he sometimes exhibits behavior I've never seen out of anyone else I've ever been around that was his age or any age.

So, I guess I'm asking if this sounds like dementia, or just eccentricity or old age? Am I being too judgmental? I know a few of you have posted how you've felt you're going crazy. I'm there! Can he really be fine one minute, then, when faced with a new or unsettling situation be so very not fine.. and this go on for years? It does seem worse now than ever, but still very sporadic.

 
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Old 12-09-2011, 06:28 AM   #2
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

It certainly sounds like the sorts of things I originally saw in my Mom before her diagnosis. I would suggest that you talk to him about it, and get an appointment with your Dr.. There are drugs that can help in the early stages, and if he does have Dementia, it's clearly in the very early stage.
Good luck to you!

 
Old 12-09-2011, 06:54 AM   #3
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

Skippy, what you described is very typical of the early stages of dementia but it could also be something else that is fixable. Dementia tends to lull us because we see the symptoms sporadically with times of clarity.... so we doubt what we see in those moments of confusion. Please have him go to a doctor for evaluation. It could be something simple that can be corrected or it could be the start of a long journey. Either way you will want to know. We fear the unknown but with knowing we have power. So please take the doubt out and make sure he gets a proper evaluation including a MMSE (mini mental status exam), a complete physical with blood work, MRI, and if no other cause is found a referral to a neurologist that specializes in cognitive impairment. The earlier you get a diagnosis the better!!

Love, deb

 
Old 12-09-2011, 10:25 AM   #4
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

Getting a man to the doctor. Probably a topic for another thread. LOL

 
Old 12-09-2011, 11:47 AM   #5
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

Skippyloo
I was diagnosed with Alzheimer's and they have me on Namibia and Aircept (might not be spelled correctly because I use Dragon Naturally Speaking)
What you are describing is exactly my symptoms. The earlier you get him to a doctor, the better the chance that medication can help him. I can't stress this strong enough, due to the fact that I got there early enough is why the medication has worked so well for me.
Good luck and I wish you the best
ancient 11

 
Old 12-09-2011, 01:45 PM   #6
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

Ancient is right... the earlier the diagnosis the better than chances that medication will be beneficial. The medication does not reverse effects that you already have. It only slows the progression. So the earlier he is diagnosed the better the treatment results

I am so glad you were diagnosed early and the medication is helping you Ancient!

Lov,e Deb

 
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Old 12-09-2011, 02:04 PM   #7
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

I appreciate what you're all saying. I just wonder if the negative emotional impact of an official diagnosis could be worth it. As of now, he expresses some frustration but does not appear to know the degree of his troubles. An official diagnosis will only agitate him and not be psychologically helpful. Agitation is a huge issue. If an easy opportunity comes up to get a diagnosis, I will take it. Otherwise, I'm not convinced it will make his life better. Or mine. Even if meds are available. I could envision him hurling himself of a bridge before I could see him dutifully taking dementia meds.

 
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Old 12-09-2011, 02:15 PM   #8
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

Skippy, I ran into much the same problem with my Mom. This Alzheimer's diagnosis was her worst fear. She did not think anything was wrong with her other than depression (which was a clue because she had never been depressed a day in her life). She fought me tooth and toe nail but finally agreed to go because she was sure she could prove me wrong. That is how I got her diagnosis. She knew it in the moment it was given but quickly came up with a reason the doctor's were wrong. Her dementia medication went right in the weekly pill box just like her other meds and become a routine with no name. So within a few days we were back at square one, with Mom swearing she was fine, except I had the diagnosis and medication I needed to better help her.

Just know it is not going to get better. The physical, mental, and emotional deterioration is going to continue. The denial that anything is wrong is going to continue. The ability to get help for him is going to be difficult without a diagnosis. Doctors have medications that will help his anxiety and agitation... as well as his cognition if it is caught early enough. So why wait? Proper treatment of the dementia and the symptomatic agitation and anxiety will make life better.

Yes, my situation was much like yours and my only regret is that I didn't get a diagnosis sooner!

Love, deb

 
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Old 12-09-2011, 02:53 PM   #9
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

It sounds like your mom already was receiving medical care and saw a doctor. My SO has not been to a doctor any reason for more than a decade, as long as I've known him. There is no weekly pill box to add to, or somewhere to take him that he's been. If something happens that he requires medical care, that will be my opportunity as I see it. I've been thinking that moment will come. But, it hasn't yet! Short of that, it really will involve enlisting others, perhaps, or some plan beyond me attempting to get him there and then agree to all the tests.

 
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Old 12-09-2011, 05:13 PM   #10
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

We also saw some of the same behaviors with DH. In our case, he didn't have any family history of the disease at all. Getting a diagnosis was a relief to him, since he found out that there was a reason for the odd things that he'd been going through. We didn't know enough about the disease at the time to be afraid of it.

Before pursuing a diagnosis, there are things you might consider. You might think about whether to purchase long term care insurance. He sure won't be eligible after a diagnosis! You want to make sure that your paperwork is in order, like a living will, Will, durable power of attorney and health care power of attorney. You might adjust your Wills and beneficiaries. You might want to review your life insurance situation since a diagnosis will make him uninsurable. Consider estate planning knowing that there's a 5-year Medicaid look back period for gifts and certain financial transactions. If he's still working, you may want to think about whether he mght have to transition out of employment if he's diagnosed with this disease.

I've said this many times before, but we spent a few hundred dollars for an hour with a very good elder lawyer. We asked a lot of questions (made him talk fast LOL!) about the things that we should do.

There are other issues to consider too. Alzheimers' patients don't always do well with change. Eventually family vacations became too difficult, but it took awhile for us to realize that DH had a downturn everytime his routines were disrupted. We should have considered moving in the early stage of the disease to a house that would be more manageable. A move in the early stages of the disease would have given DH some time to get adjusted to the new home. A move would have been much easier when he was still able to help. Instead, we kept our existing home. While it was good for DH to have famliar surroundings, it definitely wasn't the smartest thing for me.

In our case, DH lost his drivers' license when diagnosed at any early stage That was a huge adjustment for him and he was very angry about it. On the other hand, there's a potential for a larger negligence claim if an Alzheiemrs' patient is permitted to continue driving and causes an accident.

Getting the diagnosis did let DH take the available medications. We did a few things on our bucket lists. We renewed our vows. DH told us his last wishes so there would be no uncertainty in the years to come. If religious, knowing the diagnosis would permit someone to pursue peace in that way. There may be some important milestones that your spouse will still want to achieve, like a child's wedding or birth of grandchildren.

Everyone is different though. I suspect your spouse knows that something is wrong already. My DH did express suicidal intentions in the first year or two after the diagnosis. You know whether your spouse can handle this diagnosis better than anyone else.

Last edited by Beginning; 12-09-2011 at 05:19 PM.

 
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Old 12-09-2011, 05:39 PM   #11
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Re: Can someone confirm what I am thinking?

That is very helpful, Beginning. Thank you.

 
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