Holidays:  A Time For Family

I watched a video the other day made by a son whose family was caring for his aging father at home.  The Father had Alzheimer’s and had lost nearly all his speech and ability to interact with them.  But when the family dog picked up the chew toy and dropped it in his lap, he came alive.  The video showed him slowly start petting the dog, and playing with the chew toy and finally he said in slurred speech, “Well, there you are.  This is all we’ve got.  You and me.  I’ll take care of you.  You take care of me.”  As the dog lay down at his feet, he leaned over and gently rubbed his belly.  The last captions said, “If your parents are still talking to you, make time to listen. You don’t know when they won’t be able to tell you another thing.”

Today, we know that if Alzheimer’s (and other forms of dementia) are caught and treated early, generally we can slow the progression and in some cases halt it altogether. 

But the secret frequently is early detection and intervention. 

This link https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/brain-spine-neuro/memory-disorders/sage#SAGETest from the Ohio State University gives you a self-administered at-home screening. 

To score the test:  https://wexnermedical.osu.edu/-/media/files/wexnermedical/patient-care/healthcare-services/brain-spine-neuro/memory-disorders/sage/forms/sage-scoringinstructions-us.pdf?la=en&hash=BEC3E9AAB02BD67C9BD08D3236BDC51623469863.

Or, if you need something less intrusive, you can download the Alzheimer’s 10 point check list here:

(http://www.alz.org/national/documents/checklist_10signs.pdf)  

When you next visit your family member, pay attention and the person exhibits any of these signs.  If you suspect any dementia, encourage the person (or even go with them) to see a neurologist and get formal screening done.

The facts are sobering (source: Alzheimer’s Organization):

  • The number of people with dementia is growing
  • 3 million Americans live with the disease now and 200,000 of them are under age 65
  • Nearly 2/3 of those with Alzheimer’s are women
  • Over the next 10 years, they estimate close to a 40% growth in person’s with the disease
  • The disease has a known genetic marker – but studies have yet to fully identify what turns the gene on or leaves it off.
  • Alzheimer’s is not (yet) preventable or curable – at best the progression can only be slowed.

Everyone with a brain is a candidate for dementia.  Folks who have history of concussions, long running anxiety or depression and/or patterned family history of dementia are all at higher risk as they age than folks without these markers.

Dementia is a family disease — families always pay the price of long term care caregiving for seniors with dementia.  

If you and your family are going to face this “monster,” it is best to know early and have strategies in place to tackle the emotional, financial, legal and physical demands it carries. 

Finally, if you haven’t already done so, we highly recommend you purchase the inexpensive book called  Handing Down the Kingdom as it gives you a map of all that should be in place for the senior years to go smoothly.

 


 

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