Frandell Asked July 2012

Is it Alzheimer's or Dementia? How to tell?

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I think my mother has Dementia. She is also legally blind. This combination is tough but she will be very bad for a while then have a week or two of clarity. It does not seem to get any better or worse. She is very stubborn a has always been controlling and not very nice to me. She lives next door and I have her care mostly under control. I just wonder if there is any way without medical testing to know what it really is? She is 87, but honestly....I might go before her!

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myrtgeo Feb 2016
My dad has been in decline for at least 14 years. Beginning with repeating stories to me during my weekend visits and getting confused over directions to now only speaking in rhymes, wanting and eating mostly ice cream and cookies all day long, not remembering he has eaten at all, not knowing who we are some days. He asks where is he suppose to go and where he is suppose to sit. He can't hear well at all, he often does not understand meanings of words or phrases even when he does hear. Still, in spite of being so very demanding and taking up all our time and attention, he is mostly cheerful. His heart and other vitals are strong and he appears healthier than my mother (his caregiver) who has aged 20 years in the last 5. My mom asked his nurse practitioner what was the difference between Alzheimer's and dementia and she answered "Alzheimer's will kill you. With dementia, you live on and on, and something else kills you." My mom and I feel sure now that my dad will live for years and years. I am fairly sure my mom won't.
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Jaye Jul 2013
thank you momsie... I am my Mother's caregiver, and it is NOT always easy but I do my very best to treat her kindly and respectfully... She is my Mother and I will always be thankful for her!
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momsie Jul 2013
I very much agree. A person may be confused, and forgetful, but---I believe they are still emotionally aware. Unkind, sharp, words and actions affect them deeply. It can be frustrating and it can be time consuming, but a rare smile or a few seconds of awareness make patience and kindness all worthwhile..
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Jaye Jul 2013
Alzheimer's is a specific type of dementia somewhat the brown bag as it were!!! There are many types of dementia however NOT all are Alzheimer's, that is any way my understanding... I believe our seniors need to be treated kindly and with respect no matter what they have...
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cadams Jul 2013
stacylee-I smiled when I read your post. But I have to say that your parents are lucky.....NOT because of the financial provisions, though that IS nice, but they are lucky because they have such loving, caring, appreciative children that pitch in and help each other as well as your parents. How many parents and even siblings would love to be able to say that...... Surely you all are gems. I encourage you not to be sad because they didn't get to do the things they wanted. That is highly over-rated compared to them being able to rest in the loving care of their children. I thought this was the stuff of fiction, but ....glad to say, you have proved me wrong. Families like this DO exist.
God bless you richly
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stacylee Feb 2013
How true how true!!!! My dad has dementia and alzheimers compounded by a stroke to the front temporal lobe which affects reasoning. He does things like pull the dining chairs across the floor. This prompted my mom to move all the dining chairs out to the garage. He moves her plants spilling dirt all over the floor. Eats the dog food because it is crunchy. Tries to move the TV. Walks a million miles a day. Can't sit still for more than 5 minutes. It is a virtual prison for both of them. My parents are in their early 70's. Both worked hard and retired from wonderful jobs so that they could go and travel. They built a new home and paid cash. Bought a nice vehicle and paid cash. They wanted to be set so that (we) their children wouldn't have any worries. Then from one day in December last year - our world turned up side down. Dad was home and fell. They believe it was a stroke that caused the fall. But they didn't determine that till much later. The next drs appointment they told us he had dementia and early onset ALZ. We were in disbelief and my mom refused to believe. In her mind it was a misdiagnosis. They were going to go on and do the things they had planned. She tried to keep on as if nothing was wrong. Dad got to where he would ask who she was. She brushed it off as he was just having a bad day. He stopped driving. He would ask where his mom was. (deceased several years) The decline in his appearance and weight was very fast. He is a shell of the former person he was. Speech is total jibberish. There are split seconds where there is a bit of clarity. My mom is sad all the time. She is his caretaker because she refuses to put him somewhere. They have been married 52 years. She wants him home. And for the most part we have done very well. My siblings and I help her daily. It's because we love and respect them both. We are with each other thru the good and bad. Our parents gave us a great life and we want to honor them by helping where we can. It is hardest to see that they will never get to do the things they wanted. I know they are lucky because they have good insurance and my dad MADE SURE that his family would be cared for and taken care of. He was great with money and was never extravagant. My mom will be fine financially. But I truly believe she would have been better off if he had lost his legs or an arm. She is with him daily but misses the man he was. Has no one to talk to. And she longs to travel with him. It is sad for us. I know that my mom will be ok. She is strong. I thought I knew what this disease was. There is really no way to know unless you are in the smack dab middle of it. Hospice is our saviour. They have helped our family more than we could ever repay. I am just hopeful that my dad can live out the rest of his days in a world that is in his mind --calm, beautiful and disease free. He deserves that.
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Dementia is a symptom of Alzheimers and other problems, they aren't necessarily two separate conditions. They can go hand-in-hand. Pay close attention to your loved one's behavior-- it could tell you whether or not you should be worried. Here is a great resource on how to notice signs of dementia in an elderly loved one:



Ultimately, though, you'll want to seek medical advice. If you spot several worrisome symptoms, or your loved one starts to become dangerous to herself or others, you should definitely seek the advice of a doctor- while you can watch for the warning signs, only a doctor can diagnose and treat this condition.
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Jaye Jul 2012
I understand, I am in a similair situation with my Mom. She does not remember current things well at all. I hear how rotten my sister is frequently, and that is an old issue! She was VERY independent for many years now she will not even go to the beauty shop. My Father passed away two years ago and she just wants to go to heaven. She has become very self absorbed and does not communicate well. I keep trying but sometimes it just seems to HARD!!!
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patdoug, love your story and it bring back memories of my Mom 4 years ago. At one point I held up a big sign that said "I dont know" because she kept asking me if my son like his new girlfriend. Oh did she laugh at that sign but it worked. Dementia, alz, who cares, no one ever really knows. Dehydration, a lack of b12, or a urine infection can cause a lot of this thou so beware of those issues. Other than that, enjoy that he can walk and that he can talk. My mom can no longer do those things and I just got a hoyer lift to hoist her around. She still smiles and hums songs with me, and she will live in our home, spoiled, forever. take care.
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patdoug Jul 2012
I have been caring for my dad for 3 yrs. now and have watched him get more and more forgetful. He will ask the same question 50 times in 3 hours. He will get up out of his chair and make laps around the island in the kitchen, while trying to figure out why he got up. When talking to someone, he will ask and say the same things over and over. He seems to fly off the handle when ask simple questions. He can eat breakfast and 10 minutes later ask for something to eat and can't tell you what he had for breakfast. He will tell me he starving but when you give him something to eat, he loads it down with salt and takes 2-3 bites and is full. So I only feed him things I know he will eat. His hygiene is very bad. He forgets to put his teeth in the morning. He can't remember people's name's. Is this dementia or Alzheimer? Either way, I act like the question he has asked for 50 times is the first time he has asked. As far as the laps in the kitchen go, its exercise for him. Some people don't mind him says and asking the same thing over and over. I really don't concern myself with the other people who don't understand. I think when he had cancer in his throat, that when they did the radiation they burned his taste buds up. I block some of the holes in the salt shaker to try to control the salt input. I mark on the calender for when he needs to take a shower. It may take 3-4 times to get it done but he does finally takes a shower. I have put a note on the mirror in his bathroom to remind him to get his teeth and always check before we leave the house. I care for my 7 yr. old granddaughter, who was diagnosed with Autism when she 2 yrs old. I have found that alot of the same things that work for her, works for my dad. Everyday my dad tells me how happy he is that I here with him. That somehow makes those long days worth it for me. I will be here for him for as long as I can keep him in his home. :)
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