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Old 05-31-2012, 12:53 PM   #1
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Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

I have a really naive question. With memory loss associated with earlier stages of alzheimers, is the memory in question truly and irreversibly gone? Can sometimes part of the forgotten memory be trigered by the right clues and cues?

What about for other kinds of dementia, like FTD or vascular? I know that the primary manifestations for early phases of FTD are behavioral and personality changes. Sometimes forgetfulness is also present. I am wondering if the forgetfulness in this case is due to the patient simply deeming the event not worthy for them to remember, or if the memory is truly deleted. For the former, of course, parts of that memory can be triggered with the right cues because it is not truly deleted but merely filed in a far away corner of the brain.

 
Old 05-31-2012, 02:11 PM   #2
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

"Alzheimer's disease is characterised by loss of neurons and synapses in the cerebral cortex and certain subcortical regions."
So it is about the neurons, which my FIL studied all his life.

I cannot say this as an expert. But what I feel is that the memory is still in the back like the dead computer. The memory is there but the switch or hard drive is broken...
I believe it is too late to revive the memory in severe or late stage, but for early/moderate stages, the memory must still be in the back there. Certainly biologically the brain is messed up and thus dementia happens, but I would like to feel that way.
That is why sometimes the dementia drugs work for earlier stage.

At times, cueing helps because they still know some basic stuff. e.g., my FIL does not know he needs to eat until he sees the lunch tables with a group of people waiting to eat. He does not know telephone until we show him the phone. Now he does not understand how a phone works. Early on, he needs to be cue about his kids or house or persona info. and he would remember like we remind him. Gradually we cannot cue him and get it right anymore. He now only has blurring memory. He forgot his first son and he forgot his younger son's childhood. He seems to remember only things that are closely relate to himself. He forgot most of his friends.

I am sure different areas of the brain memory loss make some difference.

About they feel that some memory is not worth remembering:
I think this happens before the disease. Some people do have this attitude as normal people. My FIL had the tendency to say that some social issues are not important to him (he is antisocial) so he chose to forget about it and he said he didn't want to block his memory. It is not about the disease itself. Of course, given this habit, my FIL still chooses to know what he wants to know only (about the neuron or the brain which he studied or his science. Now it is about his vague work.)

Regards,
Nina

Last edited by ninamarc; 05-31-2012 at 02:31 PM.

 
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Old 05-31-2012, 04:11 PM   #3
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

I'm not entirely certain that even the "experts" can fully answer your question.

I just lost my mom after about a ten year battle with what was probably Alzheimers. I'm still not entirely convinced that's what she had...but when she didn't know her name, or who I was, it didn't really matter what the precise diagnosis was.

What I found so interesting was how my mom would every once in awhile come up with something that had been missing for years. Even language...when she had gotten to the point where she just talked "gibberish," occasionally she would blurt out a complete paragraph, with syntax intact, and it was completely appropriate to the situation.

But to answer your question, I think things can trigger knowledge or memories that have been lost.

I've read your other posts regarding your wife, and am so sorry you are finding yourself on this journey. Your description of your wife's issues didn't sound much like what my mother went through. I'll be interested to hear what you learn when you have that appointment with the doctors.

Last edited by teteri66; 05-31-2012 at 04:13 PM.

 
Old 05-31-2012, 09:13 PM   #4
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

Yes it has to do with a broken brain. In the early stages the ability to use the brain seems to come and go... and so does the memories. As the geriatric psychiatrist explained there is more than one pathway for the brain to do something. It might try a bad pathway one time and a memory is not formed. The next time it will try a different pathway and that memory is formed. That same pathway might be blocked next week and a memory failed there. Then the brain picks up another pathway... this happens until all the pathways are broken and no memories are formed later in the disease. This is why it seems that some memories form and others do not. Retrieval is the same way. But when a memory is not formed it can not be retrieved.

Usually the short term memory is affects first. The ability of the brain to file away information is damaged. Some information does get through and some does not. What does not go through does not get registered in the memory and that is gone forever because it was never filed away. Dad with his Vascular Dementia and Mom in the early stages of Alzheimer's were the same. An hour after supper neither of them may remember what they had to eat. The next day there was still no memory. Yet Mom might remember a phone call that she had during supper. The first thing I noticed with Mom was the behavioral changes. There were several episodes of getting lost scattered through those first years but other times she knew exactly where she was going. There were episodes of poor judgement but other times she did well. This is one reason that the disease is so difficult to accept... because much of the time it's ok... it is the times that it is not ok that we have to pay attention to

Hope all goes well at the doctor's tomorrow

Love, deb

 
Old 06-01-2012, 07:22 AM   #5
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

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Originally Posted by teteri66 View Post
I've read your other posts regarding your wife, and am so sorry you are finding yourself on this journey. Your description of your wife's issues didn't sound much like what my mother went through. I'll be interested to hear what you learn when you have that appointment with the doctors.
Thanks, Teteri. My wife is presenting with something seemingly different, mostly bizarre personality and behavioral patterns. It seems the objective/analytical thinking part has been most affected. The reason I asked about the memory is because sometimes I think that she doesn't remember something simply because she deemed it unimportant to her to remember it. And other odd behavior, say when she complains loudly about having run out of peanuts, but not bothering to move aside the box of milk bones in the pantry to see them. It's almost like she is reverting into a kid.

sigh... she canceled her appt with the doc today :-( . I did manage to reschedule for next tuesday. Her reason? I mentioned to her that our checking account is currently empty and I will need to move money into it before she can spend anything. I further mentioned that I cannot get to that until mid-morning. So between then and now (which is mid-morning) she canceled her doctor's appointment because she felt she had to save in the co-pay for the doctor visit. Then she wrote me a huge email saying that she will not go on vacation we have scheduled in 2 weeks to save money... and then she complained that I still have money to pay for my son's prom limo.... Go figure... all that deduced from the simple statement that I needed till mid-morning to transfer money. With my DW, it's moving from one emotional crisis to another. Aside from this, the past 3-4 days have been strangely normal.

 
Old 06-01-2012, 08:50 AM   #6
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

What you are describing is exactly what I found in Mom before her diagnosis with Alzheimer's. The memory loss seemed almost incidental and selective rather than a real problem. The real problems were the behavioral changes, using poor judgement, inability to understand financial (numbers), inappropriate reactions, not being able to handle simple daily problems, and the inability to visualize beyond the immediate (as the peanuts behind the dog bones). Oh, and those infrequent episodes of getting lost as your wife did going to get the dog. We connect memory loss with cognitive decline... but it is all the other stuff that is truly more troubling!!

This time do NOT tell her she has an appointment until it is time to take her! Ask the doctor's office not to cancel the appointment for any reason unless you call. Yes, it is amazing how they can twist and turn a simple statement into something bizarre. I watched Mom do this repeatedly. In a strange way what she came up with actually made sense when you looked at it from the point of view of a twisted mind... but it was difficult to deal with in the real world. So no mention of money or doctor's appointments until Tuesday morning!

Love, deb

 
Old 06-01-2012, 09:05 AM   #7
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

I don't want to tell you how to treat Lucy or you would get mad at me again.
However, try not to tell her the details like empty checking account and don't tell her the doctor's appt! You still think of her as partner and tell her the stuff. But she may also forget that the checking account is empty later on as her memory gets worse... You can let the doctor do the nice talk when she sees him by surprise. Just tell her she forgot the appt.

You can choose to do these things without telling her so the power is in your hand and she has no way to plan on it or think about it in her own faulty logic.
That is how we dealt with my FIL - we told him to move to another state without telling him the details which he would not accept at all. About money we don't tell him the details of specific accounts. Just tell him he has money and now he does not really care about details anymore.

Nina

Last edited by ninamarc; 06-01-2012 at 09:12 AM.

 
Old 06-01-2012, 09:34 AM   #8
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

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Originally Posted by ninamarc View Post
I don't want to tell you how to treat Lucy or you would get mad at me again.
However, try not to tell her the details like empty checking account and don't tell her the doctor's appt! You still think of her as partner and tell her the stuff. But she may also forget that the checking account is empty later on as her memory gets worse... You can let the doctor do the nice talk when she sees him by surprise. Just tell her she forgot the appt.
Nah.. Nina... I would never get made at you, would I? ;-)

Lucy is very high functioning. She is also very type A. It would never go down well if I surprise her with last minute doctors appointments. (She DOES remember these things! Just other things she tends to forget). It is also impossible to keep all money away from her. My biggest challenge is to isolate the important monies, but let her have something. So I have removed all monies from our joint accounts, but leave a token bit that she can use. Plus I put a small few hundred dollar cap of overdraft protection on it, unlike before, which had a $20,000 overdraft protection (Can you imagine the havoc she can cause with that kind of overdraft?). I decided to do it this way so at least I can keep tabs of where she is spending the money. She still has a ton of charge cards in her own name. I am deathly scared that she will run these to the max, but there is not a thing I can do about that except disawow responsibility for them come claims time.

So I view this whole thing as a huge task in diplomacy, juggling and balancing one against another. Nothing is black and white. Give in to some for gains elsewhere.

It is interesting that I don't think she even realizes that the bulk of our family finances no longer flows through the joint account. All that sits in the joint account is some pocket money. And it made her feel very good the other night when she offered to treat me at TGI-Fridays.

Also interesting, she called up the florist and had them prepare a corsage for son's prom date tonight. When I asked her, she said she forgot to ask how much it would cost. (Fortunately, I called just now. It wasn't something that was too onerous. Whew!)

Paying the family bills this morning... and I finally found out at least 1 major reason why she was running out of $ by the 10th of each month when she was doing it. I just discovered that our car payment was prepaid about 4 months in advance. Ditto for our cell phone bill, and the cellular service provider has about $600 of our money **in credit**.Ditto for our electric and natural gas! Looks like we don't have to pay utilities for another 3 months! Holy smokes!

Last edited by Luau; 06-01-2012 at 09:41 AM.

 
Old 06-01-2012, 09:46 AM   #9
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

Hmm, she is quite smart! Maybe you could say you have money but not her... Just kidding.

Well I am sure you are doing what you can. Sure hope she will come to the sense and see the doctor.
She prepaid the utility bills?? Wow. We paid the last bill for my FIL and has not got any refund for double pay yet!
It is really difficult to do things for the other person.

Good luck,
Nina

 
Old 06-01-2012, 09:48 AM   #10
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

Before I run out the door..... yes it is a balancing act and all in shades of gray. Nobody knows Lucy like you do. As long as you remember she is not functioning responsibly you know best how to handle her. It is trial and error to get it right even then. So please take what is said here from our experience, glean what is beneficial to you and take the rest as it is intended

Like you I was amazed that Mom didn't comprehend when she was no longer able to access the bulk of her money. Just validation that there was something major wrong.... and she was no longer able to be responsible. At least my parents were never ones to charge things.... but I did have some to clean up.

Talk about type A... my Mom was the poster child. Oh yeah she was angry with me that morning of her appointment when she didn't remember But sometimes it's ok for them to be mad at you. She was forgetting enough that it was feasible in her mind that she forgot.... but didn't want to admit it... so she just went with me to prove that she was ok.... HA! Where she was in the disease, and knowing her as I did, I could have written out the screen play before it happened. Knowing your loved one, you know better than anybody what to do... keeping in mind the impairment that you have seen.

Then again I remember the podiatrist visit that Dad honestly didn't remember. We got there and he refused to get out of the car!!! That scene in the parking lot was frustrating at the time but now I actually laugh at his antics.....

Love, deb

 
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Old 06-01-2012, 09:53 AM   #11
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

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Originally Posted by ninamarc View Post
Hmm, she is quite smart! Maybe you could say you have money but not her... Just kidding.

Well I am sure you are doing what you can. Sure hope she will come to the sense and see the doctor.
She prepaid the utility bills?? Wow. We paid the last bill for my FIL and has not got any refund for double pay yet!
It is really difficult to do things for the other person.

Good luck,
Nina
I think she paid a bill and then forgot she did. So she ended up double or triple paying the bills. Then of course, there is the other issue of her neglecting to make entries into the checking ledger. So she had not the foggiest idea of what she paid, or worse, how much money is really there.

Now we still have the same problem, but on a much more manageable scale. Before it was the entire household cash flow at stake. Now it is only a few hundred dollars of pocket change.

 
Old 06-01-2012, 11:25 AM   #12
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Re: Question about memory loss in early stages of Alz

By any chance do you go to the same doctor? If so, could you ask her to accompany you to YOUR appointment? Like, make it an outing...come with me while I see the doctor and then we'll grab some lunch afterward or....(something she really enjoys doing)?

I had to start thinking very creatively so that my mom would do what I needed her to do....Yes, you have to be devious, and it does take some getting used to, but, sometimes, it is the only way.

At least from my experience, I found that I could have my mom all set to go do something, and at the last minute, she would change her mind...sometimes even as we were walking into the garage to get into her car....

When I brought her north with me, I had ordered a taxi and as it was arriving, I looked out through the house and there she was on the pool deck, sweeping. She had gone into her room, changed her clothes, and was sweeping...when she saw me, she told me "Oh you go on dear. I don't want to come north with you for Thanksgiving and for Christmas...to see the grandchildren., etc. I'll be fine here by myself...." So with the taxi waiting in the driveway, I had to get her clothes changed, the house re-shut-up and get her into the cab. As I recall, that week was just about the worst one.

 
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