Monday, August 1, 2011

Dementia vs. Alzheimer's

This is the first post in my journey.  First of all, I am not a writer. I am a teacher, and I hope that this blog helps others learn what life is like with a loved one that suffers from dementia.  This blog is not to make fun, but there will be funny stories to share about my grandmother.  My grandmother has what many suffer with as they age.  She is 85 years old and is a very healthy woman.  I do not wish this disease on anyone.  It is hard enough to lose a loved one. It is harder to have them be right in front of you and not know you or remember how you grew up in their home.  I hope from this blog that someone will be able to gather strength to deal with their own situation and realize that they are not alone.  I have discovered that many others deal with the same questions and paranoia that my grandmother has from day to day.  So many out there are looking for the right answers.  I warn you: if you are one of those people, this is not the blog for you.  I don't have the answers, but I will tell you what doesn't work with my grandmother.  LOL

I will also be sharing from time to time other stories about my family.  With all that said, welcome to my first blog.

I titled this blog Dementia vs. Alzheimer's because, believe it or not, there is a difference.  Many get them  confused and just call them the same thing.  I did that for years until I started researching about how to help my grandmother.

Dementia usually occurs after age 70.  Alzheimer's can occur in anyone as early as 45.  Both are the loss  of memory gradually over years.  Alzheimer's causes a loved one to lose memory in a more severe case.  For instance, my grandmother can sit and tell stories on end of her childhood.  She knows her sister's names, and sometimes remembers my dad is the man that comes every night to the house to take care of her.  She suffers from Dementia not Alzheimer's because she can remember different things from the past.  Over time, Alzheimer's patients cannot remember any of these facts.  There are other ways to differentiate between the two, but I am not a doctor either.

According to the Alzheimer's Caregiver Resource:

When looking at dementia vs. Alzheimer's disease, one type of dementia is often confused with Alzheimer's disease – Multi-Infarct Dementia or MID. MID is a common cause of dementia in the elderly and occurs when blood clots block small blood vessels in the brain and destroys brain tissue. Symptoms of MID, which are very similar to Alzheimer's disease, include confusion, problems with short term memory, wandering and getting lost in familiar places, loss of bladder and bowel control, and emotional problems such as laughing or crying during inappropriate times.
My grandmother has most of these symptoms.  She was diagnosed in her late 70's with dementia.  She can't always remember my name. However, she does know that my dad is going to show up at her house at 8:00 p.m.  If he doesn't show up, then she knows the number to call to get him there.  She calls him all day long to tell him about things she has misplaced or can't find.

One day, Grandma called Daddy and wanted to know when he was coming over.  Daddy was already there and in the back room in bed.  He told her that he was already there.  She said "Hang on." and a few seconds later, she opened up the door to the bedroom and said "hi."  After greeting him, she went back to the living room, picked up the phone and told Daddy that he didn't have to come over; someone was already there to stay with her.  

You have to laugh at this situation. You have to find a balance in your life to deal with the stress, and laughter works for me.  Grandma worries my dad to death all day with calls and tales. He handles each one with a laugh and shares the stress with all of us.  We are constantly on his case to get help, but he insists that he can handle her.  That is why I come in from time to time to give Dad a break.  I also get gather some really funny stories while staying with Grandma.  

I love my grandmother, and I have grown up with it drilled in my head that family takes care of family.  My dad is always talking about who is going to take care of him when he is older, and I always remind him that my younger sister will.  LOL.  When the time comes for me to take care of my parents, I hope that my three daughters will see the example that I have set, return the favor to me, and be the stress reliever once every two weeks or so.  I hope that it is a long time before I have to take care of them in that capacity because who would take care of Grandma?  My Uncle Brent and I?  Maybe, but that would be a blog within itself!  LOL

1 comment:

  1. This is such a wonderful blog. I deal with my grandmother having these problems and you're right, I now know I'm not alone.


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