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Thursday, July 14, 2011

Alzheimer's, Stroke, and Dotty


If you are worried about something you have to get out in front. You need to gain a good fundamental understanding of a problem and the causes. You need to get educated on what to do in advance. You really need to be ready to get in action, before action is necessitated.

By Bob DeMarco
+Alzheimer's Reading Room

Previously I wrote, How Do Alzheimer's Patients Die?

This started me thinking.

Right here in the Pines, our little community, two people that suffered from Alzheimer's died from a series of strokes.

Stroke is a major cause of death in Alzheimer's patients.


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The article also reminded me of a very difficult, worrisome, six week period I had with Dotty about 4 years ago.

Dotty was having severe headaches every day. The worry part was caused when I would ask Dotty where she had the headache. She would put her hand right on the top of her head, and often said, it hurts like a tooth ache.

Sign of an impending stroke?

During those six weeks, we were going to the doctor constantly and Doc Chiriboga was trying to figure out what was going on. As you might imagine, we had all the appropriate tests and nothing showed up. This has been the pattern with Dotty.

At one point, I said to Doc, how do you look for the signs of a stroke? He started with the obvious. He told me to watch her face and expecially the corners of her mouth.

He then proceeded to examine me.

First, he took my hands and told me to squeeze hard. No problem. Then he checked the strength in my legs and demonstrated to me how to do it. Then he asked me to follow his finger with my eyes, without moving my head.

Next he said, now you check Dotty. I did this to his satisfaction.

I said something like, I hope we make it through the weekend okay.

He then rolled up a chair and sat right in front of me.

He told me. If you see any signs of a stroke, or even if you get worried, I want you to call 911 immediately. Don't call the office and ask for an appointment (a work-in). Don't put her in the car and bring her here. I actually did that once. He looked me right in the eye and said, you'll know what to do when the time comes. I know you won't hesitate. Just do it.

Doc C, the world's greatest personal care physician. It only took me 14 months to find him.

Interestingly, this exercise with Doc C empowered me. I felt better and confident. I felt like I now had a modicum of control over the situation.

Back to Dotty.

So the problem continued on. Doc gave us some Fiornet if things got really bad. I used 2 or 3. He tried several solutions none of them worked.

Finally he said, I am going to give your mother a very low dose of Clonidine (that is the generic name). He then said we will monitor her closely.

Walla. The bad headaches on the top of her head went away.

It gets better. The drug knocked Dotty out cold (Doc told me it might). I would give her the medication right as she went to bed, and she would sleep through the night like a baby. No 1:30 AM kitchen raids, no 4:30 AM walks out the front door.

Dotty was sleeping like a baby. In fact, she sawed down the Sahara Forest in the years that followed.

Now to my point.

If you are worried about something, you have to get out in front. You need to gain a good fundamental understanding of a problem and the causes. You need to get educated on what to do.

You really need to be ready to get in action, before action is necessitated.

Since strokes are a major cause of death for Alzheimer's patients, I suggest you get trained and mentally prepared just in case. I hope you will never need to use what your learn. But guess what, you won't have time to think if the time comes. You will need to take immediate action.

I know you will.



More Insight and Advice for Caregivers


Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 4,000 articles with more than 302,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
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