My mother’s #Alzheimers

Back in February 2015, a friend of mine in NY inspired me to blog about my experience with my mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease. So far, I had only blogged once about her condition since her diagnosis in 2001, three years ago, and tweeted about it here and there, during particularly difficult times.

My mother has Alzheimer’s Disease
She was “diagnosed” in 2011. Back in 2011, she was 81. Now she is 85, and you can guess: things haven’t gotten better.

She used to be a very go-getter type person, very independent. One day I dropped her off in church (she used to drive back then, but she wanted me to drive her). I told her I’d wait for her outside in one hour. An hour went by, and she wouldn’t come out… nearly 20 minutes after the hour, she called me from her apartment.

She had gotten a ride home with a fellow parishioner… she had all forgotten that I was going to pick her up. This event, combined with a couple of instances of her getting lost in the Berkeley traffic (those of you who’ve lived here know this to be a joke!) raised a red flag.

We brought her to a geriatric specialist who confirmed the “diagnosis”. I use double-quotes because, unlike things like diabetes, where you can test your fasting blood sugar and establishing nearly without doubt if someone has the condition or not, with Alzheimer’s, it is trickier. As the Alzheimer’s Association would say:

There is no single test that can show whether a person has Alzheimer’s.

Of the 10 early signs of Alzheimer’s, back in 2011 my mom had 6. She now has 7.

In the coming months and years (however long she has left with us), I will share bits and pieces of my mom’s Alzheimer’s story, using the alzheimers tag in this blog.

For now, I leave you with a photo of her and her grandson (my son) that I took today.

Mama_mar_26_2015

Alzheimer’s: Complaints of a Dutiful Son

I have been struggling for a little over a year now… well, I may have been struggling for longer than that, but the past 16 or so months have been a particularly uphill struggle. My mom is now 82 (she would kill me if she knew I was sharing her age online… again!).

In late 2010, she moved to the Bay Area, where I live with my family. Since then, we started noticing clear signs that her memory wasn’t completely working the way it used to. When you consider this was someone who had a memory that I almost wished she didn’t have at some points (if you know what I mean), this was a major change for me as her only child.

In 2011, things got to a point where a change was clearly needed: her memory lapses got too scary and potentially dangerous to her and to others. She stopped driving and eventually, we found her a great independent living residence within 20 minutes from us and got her an amazing geriatrics doctor, Dr. Ann Chodos. Since then, her memory hasn’t gotten better but we have learned little bits here and there of how to cope with it.

The excerpt of the documentary Complaints of a Dutiful Daughter below gives some hints of things you can do as a child of a person experiencing clear signs of dementia and/or Alzheimer’s.

Besides this excerpt, you cannot find any more of the movie available online for streaming. Also unfortunately, the documentary can only be ordered here.