Alzheimer’s, a story by a caregiver

by Radwa El Samahy

Getting concerned about your loved-ones’ forgetfulness or fearing that there might be something off with their behavior? Differentiating between dementia and normal aging can be challenging, that’s why it’s important to recognize the early signs of Alzheimer’s or other dementia.

Some of the information in studies and research can be vague and a bit ambiguous like.. “A common sign of Alzheimer’s is asking for the same information repeatedly, but a typical age-related change is sometimes forgetting things but remembering them later.”

Such a statement can be very unclear to someone who might become a caregiver sooner rather than later. Like how many times does one need to ask the question repeatedly in order for it to be a sign of Alzheimer’s and what are the age-related changes?

During our research on Alzheimer's, we had the opportunity to interview a caregiver who has been taking care of her mother for the past xx years. She shared with us the personal journey she went through from the moment she noticed the first symptoms of Alzheimer's in her mother to the point where she figured out a system that worked for her as a caregiver.

The caregiver's experience was informative and enlightening. She discussed the challenges she faced in the early days of her mother's diagnosis and how she had to adapt her life to help her mother navigate the condition. She also shared coping mechanisms that worked for her and her mother.

During our research on the disease, we came across a story told from the eyes of a caregiver who has been taking care of her mother for over 6 years through her struggle with Alzheimer’s. 

Going through that experience must have been an eye opener for her and for us as well.  

Here are seven signs shared by the caregiver

  • Asking “What is today?”
  • At first it started slowly, the mother would ask this question every now and then, eventually, that question started popping up multiple times every day, even within a minute of the last time she’d asked.

  • Forgetting the medication
  • The mother tried to cover what was happening for a while, but by the time the daughter realized what was happening, the mother’s medications schedule was already a mess. By time, the daughter started keeping all of the meds and giving her mother each dose, as she doesn't even know what she takes anymore.

  • Repeatedly buying unneeded items at the grocery store
  • For months, the mother kept buying frozen concentrated orange juice every time she went to the supermarket, to the point where the freezer was literally full of it. At first it was funny, the daughter didn't realize it was a symptom. At later stages, the mother couldn't process what is needed from the store and what is not anymore.

  • Misplacing things she used frequently
  • We all misplace our stuff, yes, but it wasn’t that casual when the mother started insisting that someone else had moved or stolen her missing items. And what was even more alarming was that she lost them somewhere illogical, as if she was trying to hide them.

  • Having trouble following the plot or remembering the characters on a TV show
  • She began asking “Who is that?” each time the scene on the same show changed. She was also always confused about what was happening in the storyline, and even confusing characters between shows.

  • Misremembering events and stories
  • It started with not remembering that she had just visited her sister the day before, and when reminded, she had a blank expression on her face. Then with time, the daughter started noticing that her mom would take a story about something that happened to someone else and retell the story as if it happened to her. This symptom progressed to taking bits and pieces of real events and turning them into other fictional stories that she is positive about.

  • Being uncharacteristically mean, just for a moment
  • At first it started with her grandkids, then with her daughter. Eventually, this has gotten worse as the mother's Alzheimer's progressed. When she got angry about something, she didn't hold back but let the hurtful words fly.

    Dealing with someone who is suffering from Alzheimer’s can be very challenging, here are some tips on how to care for them. 

    • Set a daily routine

    Simple daily routines can help a loved-one cope with short-term memory loss. For example, aim for them to bathe, get dressed, and eat at a set time each day.

    • Keep them physically active

    Being active and exercising regularly can slow cognitive changes. Movement exercises the joints, muscles, and heart too. This can improve their mood — and yours.

    • Keep them mentally active

    Mental activity also helps slow cognitive changes. Let your loved one perform some tasks themselves, if possible. This includes bathing, brushing their teeth, and doing household chores.

    You can also encourage reading and other activities like puzzles.

    • Promote nutritious eating

    Your loved one might lose interest in food, but it’s important to maintain balanced nutrition when possible. This slows cognitive changes as well.

    It’s a proven fact that bright colors help with the food and liquid intake, so it would be very helpful to provide them with bright-colored sets such as Qwell’s Alzheimer’s Kit

    Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive illness, and the rate of progression varies from person to person.

    So whether the caregiver is only there a few months, or to provide long-term care, It’s important to set up a short-term and long-term plan for medical care and financial and legal matters.

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