With my extensive background in Gerontology I’ve had the pleasure to work with Seniors in several different capacities for over 30 years. Friends and family members often call me for advice regarding their elderly parents, many who suffer from Dementia/Alzheimer’s Disease. It’s important to note that not everyone who is a senior has or gets Alzheimer’s. On the same token, not everyone who is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s IS elderly….. that’s right, young people can be diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer’s.Last week I stopped in the post office to mail off some bills early in the day around 8:30 A.M. The post office was busy with about four people in line ahead of me. After purchasing some money orders, I stepped to one of the counters to address my money orders and envelopes. In line behind me was an older man, who when the postal worker beckoned him he was next, he gave her his social security check. The postal worker, sounding confused asked the elderly gentleman “what he would like her to do with the check?” He responded, “cash it and deposit it into my account.” The postal worker informed him he was at the post office and not at the bank. I looked up as the other customers were looking at the gentleman as he looked around, clearly confused, apologized to no one in particular and walked out the door. Out of concern and curiosity, I quickly gathered up my things and followed him out the door and watched him go to a car and drive off… I said a Prayer because that’s all I could do. Have you been to a U.S. post office lately? Have you observed the flags and all of the signage inside and out that let’s you KNOW you’re at a U.S post office? But the elderly gentleman was unaware of all of these signs. But I often wonder how many people have family members who are displaying this type of behavior and they are totally unaware?
Memory loss has happened to all of us at one time or another. I’m guilty of feverishly looking for my cellphone as I’m holding a conversation on it. Usually memory loss is short and later that day, I can remember whatever it was I forgotten at the time. Sustained prolonged memory loss and behavioral changes can be signs of Alzheimer’s. Many times the signs are subtle and happen away from the family, like the elderly man that I witnessed in the post office. I often times find myself telling friends and family to remain vigilant in their observation of their elderly family members.
Accompany them to their Doctor’s visits, go inside and speak with the doctor. When me and my family took over the care of my Father-in-law, I was surprised to find out several family members had accompanied him to his Doctor’s visit’s…. but none had bothered to go inside with him or even speak with his physician. If your elderly family member is still driving, ride along, observe them when they complete various driving task, (stopping at lights, approaching pedestrians and oncoming traffic). A friend of mine shared with me, she and her siblings had to take her father’s keys away, and would spend hours helping him everyday looking for his keys.
Alzheimer’s is not a pretty disease, I don’t know any that are…. But to watch a once vibrant and vivacious person exhibit illicit and detrimental behaviors and have no memory of who they were is painful. To watch your mom, or any one you love and who loves you, lose themselves in a descending spiral of doubt and fear is downright depressing. Presently their is no cure for Alzheimer’s and the treatments are controversial, with some lessening symptoms for some and others offering no relief of symptoms at all.
Because their is no “playbook” for how to effectively care for someone diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, especially in a home setting, with the constant urging of my family and friends, I will be posting a once a week series about Alzheimer’s. I will be sharing diversionary tactics, treatment, resources, care and just plain common sense and patience practices.
Please share this post with friends and family and come back weekly to read new post. In the meantime if you have any comments, questions or concerns please feel free to use my contact form to email me.