Because families tend to gather during the holidays.
Maybe it’s been a few months (or even since last Christmas) since you’ve seen mom or dad.
Or, maybe your spouse says something odd at the family get together.
Maybe he asks if Aunt Tilly is coming even though she’s been dead since 1992.
That’s how it happens: We notice the difference in our loved ones if we haven’t seen them in a while–when their normal routine is disrupted and it triggers a different response.
You fly back home, but now, you’re concerned.
Last Christmas you just attributed it to aging. Everyone forgets now and then, right?
But Alzheimer’s and other neurological/memory loss issues go beyond losing your car keys.
Visit the Alzheimer’s Association site (click here) for the ten most common warning signs of Alzheimer’s.
What’s the next step?
If you live far away from your parents, you may want to start visiting more often–or you may want to check into geriatric care managing companies who can help keep an eye on your loved one’s situation.
Does Mom (or Dad) have Alzheimer’s? What do I do?
- First, check out the ten warning signs
- Start calling and visiting more often–no one wants someone to butt into their life if there’s not a real relationship to back the sudden concern
- Talk to your other parent (if they’re still alive) ask them what they think
- Talk more than once–they may be resistant at first–ask their opinion and reassure them you’re going to be involved and will help find solutions
- Get your parent (or other loved one) into see a neurologist that specializes in Alzheimer’s/geriatric patients
- Get an official diagnosis
- Create a folder/organizational system to keep all the paperwork associated with the care of your loved one–you’ll need it
- Consider medications
- Begin short term and long term plans
- Much of life can continue on as it is now–make any necessary changes gradually. It’s important that your mom or dad doesn’t feel like this is a death sentence. You can still have a rich and meaningful life–encourage your parents/spouse to continue on with church, activities, vacations, and every day activities for as long as they can.
- What insurance do they have? Do they have long term care coverage?
- Contact your local/regional/state department of elder affiairs or council on aging–these are government organizations that have a bounty of information
- Go online and begin to help research community care resources such as adult day care centers, respite care, caregiver’s support groups. There are great websites such as Caring.com and Health Central to help educate and support both the person facing the disease and the caregivers and other family members.
- Encourage your loved one or spouse to attend an Alzheimer’s (or other memory disorder they may have) workshop/talk at their local hospital, or other care facility
- Look online for your local chapter of Alzheimer’s Association, Parkinson’s Foundation, etc. They’ll have a list of resources in your area.
- Consider home health care–many private company’s such as Comfort Keeper’s offer at home care and assistance on a daily or weekly rate
- Talk to other family members, especially siblings and brainstorm about ways to help–calling, home care, repairs, time off for the other spouse
- Talk to everyone about a long term plan. If your mom/dad/spouse ever needs to go into a memory disorder care home in the future, what are your options?
This is just a basic list, but it’ll get you started.
I had ignored the warning signs that my mom had Alzheimer’s/dementia for a couple of years.
She wanted to continue living independently, and I wanted her to as well–for her sake, and so I could go on my life.
I was in my late thirties, I had three teens to raise, a husband, a career–I really didn’t want to face the fact that my mother had Alzheimer’s.
I didn’t do any of this deliberately. I didn’t even know I was doing it. That’s why they call it denial.
By the time I figured it out, (my mother hid it, made excuses) she was almost past the point of medication helping. Don’t wait that long.
Emotionally, you and your family have some issues to deal with as well.
I’ll address that in another post, but know that it’s normal to feel kicked in the gut, angry, shocked, scared about the future–and concerned that if your parent has it, you could get Alzheimer’s as well.
You’re not alone. Sadly, millions face the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s every day.
The good news is, there is help.
There are more resources, medications, and support out there now than there ever was.
You’ll figure out how to do this–how to handle the changes. Life can still be good–for everyone.