This is the message that I sent out to family today… I thought I would share it with you….

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.


  1. January 21, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    […] Well, that finally happened. […]

  2. zeusiswatching said,

    January 19, 2010 at 12:47 am

    Please know that you and your mom are in my prayers. At least this diagnosis gives you both information that can help with treatments. Yes, everyday should be a memorable day, or perhaps a better way to put it would be to make each day of her life a good day of living.

  3. January 17, 2010 at 9:43 am

    I’m sorry to hear this. One of my grandmothers had Alzheimer’s. We didn’t even have a name for it then. Glad there is something you can do.

  4. azahar said,

    January 16, 2010 at 2:15 pm

    I started leaving a comment yesterday and realised I was late for yoga, then the rest of the day got away from me.

    Such sad news, Anneke. But, as you say, at least your mother will be getting treatment now, and it helps with coping with the problems that arise. I hope it also means that other people will be more willing to help, because while you are making the best and the most of the time you have left, you must remember to keep living your own life too. Even if you could be with her 24/7 it wouldn’t be a good solution for either of you, so I do hope others start stepping up to the plate soon.

    Have you thought of setting up a schedule, so that when others offer to help you can give them a few options?

    Many hugs, honey. Will skype you over the weekend, okay?

    • mudhooks said,

      January 16, 2010 at 5:04 pm

      Well, the only person who COULD help is my sister. But she has her own worries at the moment as my brother in law may be losing his job.

      I have a brother in Toronto but he is coping with a fairly serious illness.

      The other brother I wouldn’t trust alone with her because I KNOW he would try and get money out of her.

      My other sister lives near the Manitoba border.

      The one other person (two, counting her significant other) is more than willing to help out and once she moves in February can devote some time to her and to helping me.

      More than that, I trust them both and they have been a great help.

      She also has a good friend, here in the co-op who I have to talk to and let her know. I have had a number of offers from friends, as well. I also have great support from my company and they have an employee assistance program. There is also help from the city which I can count on a little later, as well as the Alzheimer’s Association.

      All-in-all, I think just knowing and having Mom knowing and understanding has really helped.

      I would be up for a Skype chat…. but later. I am just off to bed, now.

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