Voices of Alzheimer's Caregivers: Part Two

Four Alzheimer's caregivers discuss early warning signs of the disease.

June 25, 2009— -- This is part two of the transcript from a special roundtable discussion featuring Alzheimer's caregivers. In this section, the participants -- Alice, Maureen, Phyllis and Joe -- talk about the early warning signs of Alzheimer's disease.

What Alzheimer's Warning Signs Did You See in Your Loved One?

JOE: My recollection of the first time that I sensed something with my wife was when we were selling our home of 50 years and moving in with our daughter. She was reacting strange and I thought it was because of the move. But, later on, I thought that she was unable to remember things -- even our home of 50 years she couldn't recall. She went into various moods.

ALICE: Well, with my husband, I first noticed it when he was driving. He did most of the driving. He knew all the roads and exits to get to different places. And, all at once, he couldn't remember how to get to the main road to the mall, and then he couldn't remember how to get to his brother's house. I'm thinking: What's wrong here? He couldn't remember his son's name, who lived next door, and he couldn't remember his daughter's name. And I'm thinking: This is not good because he had a memory that was unbelievable. It was all kind of gradual over maybe a year, a year-and-a-half. And, then, when he couldn't remember his home address, that's when we decided to go see what was happening. He was already -- I don't know what stage -- he was already on the downside

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PHYLLIS: We had run into the same thing, someone who knew all of the roads, very familiar with the roads to get everywhere and couldn't remember where they were going. And the biggest thing that was our indicator is that this person was very meticulous about taking care of their bills and keeping a checkbook and a checkbook register. The day the bill came in the mail, the check was already written. The checkbook register got thrown out, couldn't keep it anymore, couldn't write checks properly.

Roundtable Discussion: What Are the Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's?

PHYLLIS: This is someone who has been very detail-oriented in life and the simplest things that they've been doing for all these years started to slip. And we recognized about three years ago that, you know, maybe we need to just keep a closer eye on things. And there was a little shakeup in their life and that's when we noticed a stronger onset -- a stronger decline of the Alzheimer's progression -- and had to get them to the doctor, where we got the diagnosis two months ago. But we spotted it, anywhere from three to four years ago.

ALICE: I think you go into a little bit of denial, though, too. Where it's just: Oh, he's getting forgetful.

PHYLLIS: Or it's age. Yes, it's age.

ALICE: Yeah, or he had just retired and maybe, you know, he's a little upset over that. You know, we're just making excuses and not really wanting to face it.

MAUREEN: For us, it was a recent episode where my mother had fallen and she was hospitalized for a short period of time. When she came home, she lived with me because I have a one-floor living arrangement. But I would go to work and I'd come home, she would be almost terrified because she was seeing people -- almost hallucinations. But she doesn't want to go the doctor. We haven't had her diagnosed with an "Alzheimer's" diagnosis, but we've tried the medication and she didn't have a good reaction to that. And her doctor would like her to go see a professional -- a neurologist -- and she doesn't want to do that. But all of the symptoms are there. You know, like hiding the keys. She's taking things that she considers precious to her, like her pocketbook; she's putting her pocketbook in places and hiding things, and we can't find them.

Alzheimer's Caregiver Roundtable Topics

  • Part One: Joining an Alzheimer's Support Group
  • Part Two: Early Warning Signs of Alzheimer's
  • Part Three: Challenges of Daily Living -- Bathing, Dressing, Etc.
  • Part Four: When You're No Longer Recognized
  • Part Five: Tips on Calming a Loved One With Alzheimer's
  • Part Six: The Fear of Inheriting Alzheimer's
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