Q: Dear Miss Regina, I read about warning signs along with early signs of Alzheimer’s that we pay no mind to. Are there other signs that we may miss and think normal?
A: Yes, there are many symptoms that we take for granted or ignore. A symptom called catastrophic reaction is often mis-diagnosed as stress. This is a strong emotional response to a minor problem. It can look like shouting, crying inconsolably, swearing, striking out at a person, agitated pacing and even refusing to participate in an activity. And yes, these can be from fatigue, stress, discomfort and the failure to understand a situation. Reality is a catastrophic reaction, the response of feelings of an overwhelmed, frightened person feeling cornered and trying to protect himself or herself, but it may be caused by brain dysfunction and usually beyond the person’s control.
When someone talks about a decline in cognitive abilities we are talking about their “thinking” abilities as in: solving problems, exercising judgment, making decisions etc. It can be very subtle as in struggling to do an activity they once did very well, or lack of insight can lead to an accident. Losing track of time will later extend to disorientation to places and people. What you are looking for is progression.
If you are struggling in your thinking do not ignore it. If you are not sure if it is lack of sleep or something you can change right away, keep track of it. When you go back reading your findings and it is not good, bring it to your doctor. Push to find a cause of your symptoms.
Q: Dear Miss Regina, My children are troubling me so much about my mum. They have no understanding of Mum’s Alzheimer’s. How can my sister and I teach the children about Alzheimer’s? The children are so young seven and nine.
A: Young children are very impressionable. It is challenging for them to understand what’s happening to their grandparents. Children need support just like adults do. A great technique is to talk to their teacher and see if they can have a memory care day for the students. The children can express that they live with someone who has Alzheimer’s and share some of the things that they do to help their granny. Encourage them to feel good about helping. Children have different levels of understanding. www.alz.org has great videos for children and youtube is another source to help explain what Granny is going through and how they can help.
It is important to let the children understand that Granny is part of the family and the wonderful stories and memories are kept alive. Teaching the children about not arguing with Granny is needed. If the children are responsible for taking care of Granny, make sure there is fun time for the kids away from Granny. They must have balance. If children are kept from playing with friends because they have to care for granny it can cause resentment. Involving the children’s friends will help your children cope. Ask the children if they would treat you the same if you developed dementia and see what their response is. Ask them what would help them do better.
Senior joke ~The neighbours thought it was odd, but 93 year old Morton was dating again. One Monday morning Morton woke up with a funny feeling that something important happened last night. It was during breakfast, that Morton finally remembered what it was. He had proposed to his date Greta. But what she answered he just couldn’t seem to remember. Morton picked up the phone and dialled. “Hi Greta”, said Morton, “I have a funny question for you, do you remember last night when I proposed?” “Oh my gosh” gushed Greta, “I’m so glad you called, I knew I said yes to somebody but I just couldn’t recall who it was!”
I look forward to hearing your questions or suggestions to help share Alzheimer’s Awareness. Currently looking for people interested in getting an Association for Dementia Care.
Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or call/text to 486-4509