Here I am walking along the des Champs-Élysées with my new friend Charlotte on a beautiful sunny day.
Alzheimer's Reading Room
Charlotte is finally getting some respite after caring for her mother who was diagnosed with Alzheimer's more than a year ago. Charlotte lives with Alzheimer's.
For my part, I would prefer to discuss the French women and the sites, but Charlotte needs to vent and she wants to learn more about how to deal effectively with a person that has Alzheimer's disease.
At first I listen. Charlotte is distraught because she just can't seem to reason with her mother. The harder she tries the worse things get. Why can't her mother understand that she just asked her what day it is? Maybe 10 times.
Her mother won't bathe, she doesn't want to go out of the house, and she says things that are so mean that it makes Charlotte cry. Charlotte tells me, it seems like I am only making things worse.
When Charlotte finally stops it is my turn to talk and ask questions.
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I start by asking Charlotte, who diagnosed your mother and how did they do it?
She tells me her mother was having trouble paying her bills and just wasn't acting "right". So she took her mother to her doctor of many years and explained what was happening. Her mother told the doctor that there was nothing wrong with her.
The doctor said three words and asked her mother to remember those words. After a few minutes he asked the mother to repeat the words. The mother couldn't remember any of the words.
Next, the doctor asked the mother to draw a clock. The mother drew a clock but it was all out of shape, and while she had the parts, it really didn't look right.
The doctor then told Charlotte, your mother has Alzheimer's and I am going to write her a prescription for Aricept. When Charlotte asked the doctor what else, he told her, there really isn't much you can do.
I ask Charlotte, did your mother have an MRI or a Pet scan? She answered no. Did your mother have a series of blood tests to see if something else was causing the memory problems. She answered, no.
We then proceeded to discuss this --
I try to explain to Charlotte that there are other illnesses like hypothyroidism and depression that can mimic the symptoms of Alzheimer's and dementia. There can also be other causes like brain lesions, infections, and vascular problems. Charlotte responds, all I know is what the doctor told me. I make a mental note to encourage her to get a "fully baked diagnosis".
I ask Charlotte do you know the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia? She responds, all I know is Alzheimer's is a lot worse than dementia.
I take the time to explain,
More than 25,000 new people come to the Alzheimer's Reading Room each month looking for the answer to this question. It really is important for Alzheimer's caregivers and their families to understand the difference.
I ask Charlotte if she understands what is going on in her mother's brain, and what is causing many of the behaviors that seem to be driving her crazy. She answers no. I discuss,
I also make a mental note to email her the link to this video,
I think to myself, I'll need to explain the concept of Alzheimer's World.
How her mother is the same person.
How her mother's perception of the world is changed by the deterioration in her brain, and the necessity of undertanding her mother can't change, so it is going to be necessary for Charlotte to change
But for now, understanding that Charlotte is a ONE and that she will triumph in the long run, I suggest we go eat some country style French food at Le Cordon Bleu.
Just as I complete my suggestion we look up
It seems to me that this is a good omen.
I imagined all of this.
Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room