Memory Loss from a daughter’s perspective.
It was devastating when my mom could no longer follow my telephone conversations. I had no idea what was happening. I am from a very close net family of eleven children. My sister and I were corporate nurses with extensive careers in major trauma centers in Boston. But this illness caught us completely off guard in the late eighties and early nineties. Mama was forgetting daily routines. She was adding additional ingredients to her fabulous sweet potato pies. I went to the bank with her one day and she told me that she did not fill out her bank statement any more but the bank teller did it for her. Well the bank teller ended up stealing thousands from our mom prior to our knowledge. We were devastated for her, because she always prided herself in maintaining independence with a “gifted” budget and comfortable savings account.
Mama became isolated and depressed over the years, unable to keep up with family events and repetitive tasks. We eventually moved her to a nursing facility and she sadly passed a few years later.
We all felt so guilty and helpless because the illness moved pretty fast. It overwhelmed our knowledge base as well as our love and dedication for our beloved mom.
Since my mom’s death, I have learned so much about Dementia and Alzheimer’s. I share this knowledge almost daily with families, providers, communities, churches, senior centers and anyone who has a ear of curiosity. We’ve learned so much in medical research since the eighties and nineties. We now know:
There are 3 stages of this illness:
- Early Alzheimer’s where there is difficulty and frustration with ordinary daily tasks, such as bathing, eating, times, places. Words and conversation becomes more difficult. Topic of conversation is lost as well as the follow through. Names, birth dates, address become blurred. Money management is confusing, and overwhelming.
- Moderate Decline is a major pronouncement and progression of the earlier stage. This stage seem to be the longest. Forgetting one’s self is a major indicator of this stage. Forgetting one’s own name and birth date is one of the major indicators. Changes in sleeping patterns, often waking up at night. Often there may be displays of delusion, depression, and agitation. Difficulty choosing seasonal daily wear. Repeating sentences or forgetting sentence just spoke.
- Severe Stage is where the person may not recognize oneself or family members. Communication may be very difficult. Bowel and bladder control is lost and mobility is often non-directional and difficult. Often, the person may be wheel chair bound or bedridden.
It is imperative to keep your loved one engaged and active
There are five important senses that need special attention with seniors diagnosed with Dementia;
Daily social activities will decrease the risk of isolation and cognitive or physical impairment. Activities involving:
- Vision: engage in photo recall of family, holiday, wedding, graduation, and children photos
- Hearing: music and sing-a-longs are quite helpful.
- Taste: A game of tasting and identifying different tea, candy, ice cream flavors
- Smell: involve certain scents of perfume, flowers, fruits
- Touch: feel and identify different textures such as cotton, silk, lotions, facial creams etc. fold towels, sheets
These activities improve memory, motivation and, fine motor skills which increases the quality of life for your love one and the caregiver.