I Wish I Had Known

Years ago when my mother was in her late 70’s something changed.  She had been a widow for over 20 years and was quite self-sufficient and lived in her own home near her children. She worked in her yard, did her own cooking and grocery shopping, and took great care of her pet cat and dog.  Her major health complaint was her knees—she had bad arthritis in her joints and found it harder and harder to get around.  Her hands ached and often felt stiff. As I noticed small changes in her functioning ability it seemed natural for me to help out.  Her clothes didn’t seem to get laundered as often as they should have  been but I was sure the location of the washer and dryer in the basement made it hard for her to get to them with her bad knees and all. No big deal…I could throw a load in the washer and dry it before I left whenever I stopped by.  One day I realized there wasn’t much food in the refrigerator, just a bag of fried chicken fast food sandwiches.  She must have had a great coupon and walking behind a shopping cart was surely getting hard for her.  She liked my cooking so I just made extra and dropped it off on my way to work. In time, the house needed a thorough cleaning.  That darn cat and the dog sure know how to make a mess!  She started not paying her utility bills on time but she was “old school” and liked paying them in cash at the bank.  I’m sure she didn’t go to the bank because it was hard to walk all the way across the huge parking lot….I wrote checks for the bills when I stopped by and dropped them in the mail—no problem. And then one day she got lost on the way home from my house even though she had driven that route for 20 years.  I chalked it up to her distraction because we had had a disagreement when she was over. If someone had suggested to me that she had the beginnings of dementia I would have scoffed at the idea and told them they didn’t know what they were talking about.  She didn’t have any language problems and was never at a loss for words. She didn’t repeat questions and she knew to the penny exactly how much money she had in her bank account!  That sounds like a pretty sharp person to me. As the years passed she became more disorganized, forgot appointments, and couldn’t keep her medications straight. Her personality changed and she became more suspicious of everyone and everything around her. I began to wonder….does she have dementia or the beginning of Alzheimer’s? We never found out because she passed away before we could get a diagnosis.  The moral of the story is….If you suspect that someone you love or care for is changing somehow, talk to their physician. Your natural instinct to compensate for an aging parent or loved one may cause you to miss a true diagnosis.  Symptoms of dementia can   mimic several other diseases and health conditions. These symptoms are often treatable and reversible and the sooner you know something the sooner you can do something. If it is dementia, the symptoms can often be managed if diagnosed early enough.  I wish I had known. Please visit us at http://www.trilliumhomecare.com

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Filed under Alzheimer's, Caregiver, Home Care, Personal care, Senior Care, Trillium HomeCare, Uncategorized

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