Bob DeMarco

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Response to Reader -- I Understand the Long Distance Problem You Face


By Kerry Runyeon
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I hear you and have walked in your shoes.

My mother lived several states away when the early symptoms of Alzheimer's dementia presented. Like you describe, she also did not respond well or take my concerns seriously. What an extremely frustrating time that was for me trying to help her long distance. I would not wish to go back there again but want you to know many of us understand your situation.

Looking back I realize now that not only was her memory affected, but to a greater extent her judgment. She did not believe anything was wrong with her apart from “normal aging” thus she did not take seriously any measures I would try to instill.

She would not take her medications appropriately and to this day I often wonder how much better she might be now if she had taken her thyroid and Aricept correctly and consistently. But there again you see how her judgment was off.

My mother had never been social so had no interest in developing that area so I really did not even try to go there.

I understand your dilemma and if you do not have someone who can monitor her more closely and encourage her it can be very hard to handle long distance.

There are geriatric case managers out there that do help families with long distance problems but your mom would have to be receptive. My mother was not.

When I tried to set up services she would not cooperate and actually convinced most people she was fine and nothing was wrong with her. Unless one is with the early stage dementia patient day in and out often times the average person sees nothing amiss.

My best advice would be to take her to a geriatric specialist for a consultation if you haven’t already. She may also be suffering from depression. I would have her thyroid checked to rule out thyroid disease.

You do not say if she is taking her medicines correctly and I would not count on her word for that. Somehow you need to monitor this. (I am assuming she is on some “memory meds” hopefully Aricept and Namenda). Looking back I wished I would have paid someone like a neighbor to do it as opposed to an agency that was not that flexible or easy to deal with. Plus mom would have been more receptive with someone she knew.

Perhaps with proper medications and an anti-depressant (if determined necessary) she might be more agreeable to increasing her exercise and eating well. My mother lived mostly on ice cream, cereal, coffee, and sweets. (Judgment again)

Good luck to you and I wish I had more to offer. I will tell you that moving Mom closer was the best thing I did and I wish I would have done it sooner.

Continue to educate yourself on this disease and the Alzheimer's Reading Room is a great resource. Not only the education but the support from all the followers helps one to realize that you are not alone.
Kerry Runyeon, RN, BSN is the primary caregiver for her mother Lily. Kerry chooses to focus on the humorous aspects of her journey with Alzheimer's disease. Her blog Living in the Moment with Lilybird is a reflection of her experience. Kerry resides in Dayton, Ohio

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Original content Kerry Runyeon, the Alzheimer's Reading Room