May 30, 2017

Mom Didn't Laugh for Two Years and Then I Had Her Thyroid Checked

After her diagnosis of probable Alzheimer's, my mother didn't laugh for 2 years. She rarely smiled. The I read the Alzheimer's Action Plan and it changed our lives.

A sluggish thyroid can make a person living with dementia dull and confused.
By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

When I heard my mom laugh for the first time in two years I ran over to find out what was going on. I felt so happy and elated it would be hard to explain in words. One thing was clear, my heart soared.

For the longest time my mom had this glassy eyed look - the stare into what must be either confusion or "nowhere". The look of Alzheimer's and dementia. Or so I thought.

Have you ever seen this look on the face of your loved one?

Then the day came. I picked up my copy of what I consider to be the bible of Alzheimer's care, The Alzheimer's Action Plan, and I started reading through some of the pages I had dog eared.

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From Page 82, The Less Than Trusty Thyroid. I read,
"Get your thyroid tested. Nearly one in five people over the age of sixty has some degree of hypothyroidism, meaning a sluggish thyroid.

The symptoms include forgetfulness, weight gain, depression, dry skin, intolerance to cold, muscle aches, and fatigue.

People who are hypothyroid feel as though they have mild Alzheimer's and depression all mixed into one bad day."
My mother had five of the seven symptoms listed above.

At the time we had a wonderful doctor that really cared about his patients. When I went to him with this information he didn't give me the doctor look and talk, "what you read a book and now you are a doctor." He didn't act like I was questioning his capability. He listened and said, "lets check her thyroid". Blood test.

Seven days later we were back in the doctor's office and he said -- "the results look suspicious".

She didn't actually test positive for hypothyroidism, but the result was just barely above the level defined as hypothyroidism. He then proceeded to tell me how we were going to take a cautious approach. He gave me all the caveats, prescribed the mildest dosage of thyroid medication, and told me we would test her blood in a month to make sure we didn't give her hyperthyroidism with the medication.

One day later my mother laughed. I jumped up when I heard the laugh. I ran over to find out what was going on. Seinfeld, Kramer. Kramer made my mother laugh. I was so elated I felt like I could fly. Soar actually.

From that point on things just got better and better with my mom. She perked up.

My mother not only started laughing, she started smiling. She actually thanked me when I cooked for her. Instead of the standard okay that I had been listening to for 2 years she would respond - good or delicious. Her attitude also changed.

This development. along with the other treatments and exercise, lead to my decision to find a way to get her out into the light, to get her into restaurants, to get her socialized.

I decided right then and right there that we would start living our life the way we always had lived it.

As it turned out, the more we did the more our life improved. For both of us.

Believe it or not, it was not unusual for us to go out at 6 PM and come home after 10 PM. My mother was the one that wanted to stay out. This was very different than before we had her thyroid checked. Back then, more often when we went out she would barely say a word.

She had more energy and more LIFE.

Here is some advice that you might consider.

Get the thyroid checked.

It is worth the effort because you never know, and it can't hurt. Consider taking this article with you on the next doctor's appointment.

Please note: few personal care physicians routinely check the thyroid. You have to ask.

This might also encourage you to take action. Over the years many of our readers found not only that their loved one had a sluggish thyroid, they had a sluggish thyroid. Their mood, energy level, and behavior changed for the better - literally over night when they started the medication.

We were fortunate that we read the article on hypothyroidism. If you, a friend, or a loved one is suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's please get the thyroid checked closely.

In the book The Alzheimer's Action Plan the authors discuss in detail physical problems that can and do effect memory. The book is worth obtaining and reading. It is full of beneficial information and resources.

I learned by taking action. In other words, we often assume that it is the Alzheimer's disease causing the problem, when in fact, it is something else that is treatable.

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The Importance of Socialization in Dementia Care

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Time Magazine's 100 most influential people in the world. Professor of Neurology and holder of the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Neurology at Harvard University.

Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized  writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide.

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