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Old 11-21-2012, 09:29 AM   #1
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How to know if it's Alzheimers

My husband and I are in our 70's and married for 40 years. He has had medical problems for years. Quadrupal bypass at 45 yrs. He's had Diabetes since 1985. He had 3 more heart attacks in 1998, and now severe lower back pain. He's on a ton of meds which have essentially kept him alive, for which I am eternally greatful. He is also my best friend. Over the last 18 months, he has started having memory issues. More than where are the car keys or the name of a movie star. He has always had an inate sense of direction, but now says things like "is this the right road?" when driving.
He also gets recent things mixed up. He asks multiple times when we are going to do something, about what date or time we decided on, and frequently remembers conversations differently than I do. Often omitting details that I heard, and remembering what he seems to want to hear.
He gets angry a lot and it comes out of no where If I disagree with him on something we are discussing, or if he wants to do something and I don't. It's like living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. We have a large family and many grandchildren and great grandchildren, and they are now noticing these things as well He will not talk to a doctor about any of this and If I did, we would never forgive me.
He is also kind, generous, and loving. He is sleeping less than he used to and often gets up at 4-5:00 AM, though he doen't require that I get up with him and always brings me coffee in the bedroom when I wake up.
The anger is the hardest to handle. Could he have the early stages of Alzheimer's or Senile Dementia? How do I get him to talk to the family doctor at least?

 
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Old 11-21-2012, 09:58 AM   #2
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Re: How to know if it's Alzheimers

Bestfriend2,

I am so sorry that your husband has memory issue. Indeed, this needs a specialist like neurologist to detect the dementia. Also, there are many types of dementia: vascular dementia has to do with blood circulation, Alzheimer's and others. It may not have to be Alzheimer's and it could be vascular dementia. There are tests to be done. In the office, MMSE can be done by a psychologist/psychiatrist/neurologist. In the lab, MRI or pet scan/ct scan can be done to detect it if it is obvious.
Note that a family doctor or GP may not have the ability to test it or understand dementia. So if you do ask him to see a doctor, you will need to ask the GP to get a referral to a specialist to test the memory.
There is no way to guess this thing. In the old times, people guessed about it and even put them in the asylum. Now it is totally different: there are ways to cope with dementia with drugs or caregiving and etc. So getting the diagnosis helps a lot.

For sure your husband will hate to see any doctor. However, since he has other health conditions, he sees other doctors for sure. Why not ask the doctor that he is seeing to tell him about this issue gently? Maybe he will listen to them. Arguing or forcing will not help. Maybe the doctor can do the test saying it is for other condition? Some white lies or comforting words may help.

This site is a great site for getting support. Other people like Deb have more info. about this. My late FIL had Alzheime'rs and we had cared for him for 7-8 years.

Take care,
Nina

Last edited by ninamarc; 11-21-2012 at 10:00 AM.

 
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Old 11-21-2012, 10:38 AM   #3
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Re: How to know if it's Alzheimers

Dear BestFriend2, I am sorry that you and your husband are experiencing this. I cannot offer you even a wild guess at a diagnosis. I simply want to convey that I easily could have written what I have quoted from you below. The Jekyll and Hyde analogy is particularly apt. Hang in there, my friend.
Quote:
Originally Posted by BestFriend2 View Post
He also gets recent things mixed up. He asks multiple times when we are going to do something, about what date or time we decided on, and frequently remembers conversations differently than I do. Often omitting details that I heard, and remembering what he seems to want to hear.
He gets angry a lot and it comes out of no where If I disagree with him on something we are discussing, or if he wants to do something and I don't. It's like living with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

 
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Old 11-21-2012, 03:03 PM   #4
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Re: How to know if it's Alzheimers

BestFriend2, welcome to the board. I am sorry that you need to be here but glad you found us.

What you described does sound as if he does have cognitive problems. It is difficult to say what it is with a proper diagnosis. It could be side effect of one or several of the medications he is on. It could be so many things... or it could be one of the many forms of dementia. It is best that you do get him a diagnosis.

I am sure that he goes to the doctor with all his medical problems. What you need to do is to talk to the doctor BEFORE he goes to the doctor the next time. Explain to them that you have become aware of cognitive decline and ask them to do a MMSE (Mini Mental Status Exam) at the next visit. He doesn't even need to know that you talked to them. That simple 30 question test will give indication of the cognitive decline and hopefully they will recommend test and follow up to find out what is going on. Let the doctor be the bad guy!!! He should get a complete physical including blood work, a complete review of all his medications for side effects, and a CT or MRI. They will probably check his carotid (neck) arteries for blockage which can cause cognition problems because of poor blood flow to the brain. They will rule out all other causes for the cognitive decline that can be fixed and then make the necessary diagnosis. It is so much better to know what you are dealing with, fix it if you can, and then know what the future will be. Not knowing and worrying is often worse than knowing.

I do hope you can get him to the doctor and find out what is going on. Let us know how it goes and what you find out.... We are also here just to listen if you need to vent

Love, deb

 
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