A month or so ago, Mom finally had testing done at the Memory Disorder Clinic at Bruyere.
Today, Mom got the diagnosis Shirin and I were expecting and she was not.
Early stages of late-onset Alzheimer’s.
She took it rather pragmatically and there is some medication that she can take which will (hopefully) slow down the progression. However, had she taken me at my word years ago, she would have been diagnosed ages ago and had the benefit of a longer time on the medication and not so much of a precipitous decline in her memory the last few years.
Late onset, unlike early onset does not mean that we will “lose” her to Alzheimer’s. Basically, it is a slow-moving process which in a younger person means incapacity before the age of 65.
Mom is older and so will experience dementia at a ripe old age.
However, she will be experiencing a decline in her memory (short term memory) over the next few years and we have to face that.
It hasn’t been easy for me dealing with a lot of the problems which have cropped up, so far. I handle all her finances because she can’t. I handle her medications because she can’t. I handle making her appointments and seeing she gets where she needs to go because she can’t.
She repeats the same stories and questions and anecdotes and needs reminding about things she should remember on her own because she can’t remember.
If she calls repeatedly leaving the same message, its because she doesn’t remember having called and having left the message.
Her long-term memory is pretty good. I notice gaps in recollections. This indicates that she is starting to falter a bit there but ion the whole, her long term memory is pretty good. She remembers the stories, she just forgets she’s told you 15 times in the same conversation.
The upshot of this is that she will need patience and compassion. She will need people to visit and call often.
The fact is that, slowly but surely, we are losing her and we need to make the best and the most of the time she has left. One day, she will not remember us… That day is hopefully a long way off but in order to make these last years as good and as worth-while, she needs us.
Sometimes it is frustrating and upsetting to have to go over and over and over the same things sometimes 50 times in a day but that’s what has to be done.
As a family, we need to make every day memorable for her, even if she won’t, in the end, remember it.