PCredit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/yourdon/3567904905/utting together a group of people to help you through your Alzheimer’s journey with your loved one is critical – in fact, the earlier, the better! It is often easy to think that we can handle everything, especially in the early stages. But you need to remember that you are going to be taking this journey for many years, so you want to make sure you take care of yourself and not burn out too early!
I had a friend, Sarah, who once received a phone call from the police. This phone call alerted her to the fact that she had a problem. The police called to tell her that her father was at a convenience store and did not know how to get home. Apparently, her father had driven around long enough looking for home to have run out of gas. Fortunately, he ran out right in front of the convenience store. The convenience store was only 4 blocks from his house…yet he could not find his way.
That phone call got Sarah’s attention. She knew that her father had been somewhat forgetful lately, but she had attributed it to stress, as they were having layoffs where her father was employed. Stress can cause lots of things, including forgetfulness, but forgetting how to get home was a little extreme.
The incident frightened her father enough that he agreed to go see the family doctor. Unfortunately, his family doctor didn’t have the training needed to find the cause for the memory loss, and chalked it up to “old age” and stress. Sarah wanted her father to go see another doctor more specialized in dealing with memory issues; however, her father was more than happy to hide his head in the sand and ignore the issue. He was not ready to face it.
He eventually was forced to do so, and Sarah wisely contacted her local Alzheimer’s Association chapter who recommended doctors to get a second opinion for his memory issues.
What are some other warning signs to look for that might indicate that there is a problem that needs to be dealt with? These might include:
- The person with Alzheimer’s disease may begin to limit activities around other people. They become fearful that others will notice their problems, and they are embarrassed about it, and/or are not ready to face the issue.
- The person with Alzheimer’s disease may become sad and start to isolate themselves from friends and acquaintances. This sadness could become depression which will make the Alzheimer’s symptoms appear worse.
- The may have problems doing things that they have never had problems with before.
- They may stop doing things that they have enjoyed doing for most of their adult life.
- They may also isolate themselves from family, including the person who will wind up being their primary care taker —You! Again they may not be ready to face it, or they may not want to worry you unnecessarily about such a trivial issue. It might seem trivial now, but it’s better to know about it now, and seek treatment as soon as possible.
When you Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/bradleypjohnson/6004090654/in/set-72157627289282965/see any of these symptoms, it is time to talk to your loved one, and help them understand your concern for them. There are many things that cause memory loss, but only a doctor would be able to diagnose any of these causes. It is important they see a doctor, before the police get involved. Sarah’s father had exhibited some of these behaviors but she had attributed them to stress. A doctor specialized in memory care would have counseled her otherwise.
So the first person that you add to your special teams is a doctor. But not just any doctor. You need to find one that is specially trained to deal with memory issues. This doctor will become an invaluable resource and ally if utilized properly – now and in the future.