Your Alzheimer's, Memory Questions Answered

Question: Spouse Alzheimer's is so much worse than parent. You can visit and leave the parent. Spouse issues are there 24/7. My husband is diagnosed with MCI but has not deteriorated as quickly. How does one deal with the memory loss, thought connections, anger, and denial and still maintain any kind of a loving relationship?

Answer: No one particular relationship with the caregiver is inherently "worse" than another -- adult child caregivers may be torn between the needs of the parent and their offspring, which can be very challenging as well, or the need to provide "long-distance" care.

That said, my response to the stressed spouse caregiver is: You are not alone. There are many resources available through the Alzheimer's Association, NIA ADEAR, BannnerHealth in Phoenix, Mather Liefeways foundation, etc. that provide help and assistance.

Get respite locally and make time for yourself, join a support group and share your challenges with others who have or are going through similar experiences. Above all, take care of yourself and ASK FOR HELP from family, friends and neighbors with this most difficult task.

- Kathleen Buckwalter, Ph.D., R.N., Director, Geriatric Nursing Center, University of Iowa

Your Alzheimer's Questions Answered

Question: My mother has dementia. How many stages are there for the disease?

Answer: The Alzheimer's Association has posted a list of stages on its web site. They are as follows:

  • Stage 1: No impairment
  • Stage 2: Very mild decline
  • Stage 3: Mild decline
  • Stage 4: Moderate decline
  • Stage 5: Moderately severe decline
  • Stage 6: Severe decline
  • Stage 7: Very severe decline

You can also click here for more on the various Alzheimer's stages from Mary Sano, Ph.D., Director of the Alzheimer's Disease Research Center at Mount Sinai Medical Center.

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Question: Do you have tips for teenager and young child who are dealing with their father's early early onset of age 45? Communication can be difficult at times.

Answer: Here are some suggestions from Dr. Gary Small, Director of the UCLA Center on Aging:

- Learn about the reality of the disease so you don't take any behavior changes personally.

- Be patient. Slow down your speech and help your relative to focus his/her communications.

- Try to spend time with your relative doing things that you always liked to do together such as taking walks or playing tennis. Over-learned behaviors that they've done for a long time are easier for Alzheimer's patients.

- When your relative gets frustrated, don't respond with anger or become defensive. Stay calm and realize that it's frustration with the disease, not with you.

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If you want to ask your own question about Alzheimer's disease, go to the OnCall+ Alzheimer's Center and look for the submission form. You can also find an index of answers from top Alzheimer's experts by clicking here. For more health information, go to ABCNews.com Health.

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