When coping with dementia, don’t become a ‘Secondary Patient’

According to the National Institute of Health, for individuals over 65 years of age who are in family care, the average age of the caregiver is 63!
When we start families, we are usually in our late teens or early 20s, and we bring a child into the world whom we know will require around-the-clock attention for more than a year. But we are young, we are strong, and we have energy. Continue reading

Hernando County, a liability and an asset

For the State of Florida as a whole, 17% of the population is over the age of 65. In Hernando County, 31% is over 65; which is approaching twice the statewide average. The Alzheimer’s Association tells us that among people over the age of 65, one in ten is living with the disease. With a population of 178,500 (2015), it does not take higher mathematics to project that about 5,500 people in Hernando County are living with Alzheimer’s. Continue reading

Identifying possible signs of dementia

Memory loss is a key and conspicuous symptom of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, but dementia causes many other changes that can result in dysfunctional behavior.
Forgetting things does not mean you have dementia. It happens to all of us. “Where are my keys?” “Where did I leave my coat?” Relax, you very likely don’t have a problem. Continue reading

Dangerous Days for people with Dementia

While Alzheimer’s is most commonly associated with memory loss, in fact there are many other symptoms attached to this disease and other forms of dementia. One of these symptoms is an inability to recognize when one is hungry or thirsty. Another is the tendency to wander. These two combined can bring tragic results, especially now, during the hottest months of the year.
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Ten Reasons for early screening, diagnosis

People have asked me, “Why bother getting a memory screening and diagnosis for Alzheimer’s? If it is irreversible and incurable, why bother?”
The best reason for early screening and diagnosis is to learn that you don’t have dementia. There are correctible medical conditions that create symptoms similar to dementia. Under these circumstances, you may be showing signs of dementia, which you don’t actually have. Continue reading

Getting lost: It only takes one time!

Getting lost: It only takes one time, wandering is a common symptom of Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Many thoughts have run through my mind since the Silver alert went out last Thursday evening about Carol McHugh, a person with memory issues who went missing. Events like this are tragic, traumatic for families, and disruptive to entire communities. Witness the enormous effort by law enforcement agencies and volunteers that has gone into the search for Ms. McHugh. Continue reading

What does “Showtime” mean?

This is probably a term that you are not familiar with but have seen it happen, especially in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, there is a surprising phenomenon that we caregivers have seen many times, and it is referred to as “Show Time.” When people with dementia are still cognitive enough to realize there is a problem, they often have the ability to put on a convincing façade of normalcy for a short period of time, say ten or 15 minutes. It is an ability that can be quite exasperating for the caregiver.
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Wandering is a clear and present danger

I have some friends who have a toddler. They recently invited me over to see their new swimming pool. I was astonished because there was no fence around the pool, so I asked the husband, “Don’t you need a fence to protect your child?” He said, “What for? He hasn’t fallen in yet.”

Sorry, that’s not a true story. I made it up, but it is exactly the kind of logic I have heard many times from caregivers when I warn them about the dangers of wandering. I’ve heard them say, “We don’t have a problem. He hasn’t wandered yet,” “He does not leave my side,” or “I cannot be out of his/her eye sight.” Continue reading