I wanted to share a story about some recent experience we've had with Alzheimer's disease, a topic that’s been in the news quite a bit lately. Alzheimers falls under the dementia category and the most common types of dementia are; Alzheimer's disease, Vascular dementia, Parkinson's disease, Dementia with Lewy bodies, Fronto Temporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD), Huntington's disease, Alcohol related dementia (Korsakoff's syndrome) and Creutzfeldt-Jacob disease.
Peter Thomas lives in the family home and moving from the kitchen to the front door involves a journey of Alice in Wonderland proportions as he attempts to leave for a shopping expedition. Rather than the colourful distractions Alice encounters Peter becomes immersed in an operatic aria and while looking for a stage-costume in the linen cupboard he decides the messy cupboard needs to be tidied. These events have laid waste to the shopping list Peter prepared and any memory of the need for groceries. Peter is 80 years old and has early onset Alzheimer’s disease. Although he is cognizant most of the time he is also aware his grip on reality is diminishing. Kerry, Peter’s carer, has an hour and a half to take him shopping. The problem is, although Peter has prepared a shopping list, he now says he doesn't need food and by the time he reaches the front door he has pretty much forgotten everything. Peter’s dithering consumes what time should be spent shopping and Kerry gets Peter back on track as he joyously sings an aria from Puccini’s ‘Tosca’.
Peter has four children although he never mentions the older three; his youngest daughter lives in the United States and often speaks with him on Skype. Living with dementia can be socially isolating, confusing and stressful for the sufferer, their families and caregivers. The Alzheimer’s Foundation recommends community contact among other things to reduce the progress of the disease. There are many support services to assist dementia sufferers and their family members and attempting to locate and obtain these services can be a challenging process. Research conducted in 2005 by the School of Psychiatry at the University of New South Wales found one of the contributing factors many people don’t access support services is because they have no knowledge of the services available.
It’s difficult reaching out for support as I personally experienced with my mother when she was diagnosed with Cerebral Amyloid Angiopathy, a condition that causes strokes and cognitive impairment. Support and care are invaluable for dementia sufferers as is the respect and compassion provided through this support. Taking the steps to find support, creating a care package tailored to your individual needs, can mean the peace-of-mind of being able to stay in the comfort of your own home. A carefully structured care plan and a suitably chosen carer can provide a wonderful platform for dementia sufferers easing some of the challenges and maximizing many of the opportunities that lie ahead.
Have you had any experiences with Dementia, Alzheimer’s or any other condition causing cognitive impairment to you or a loved one? Please write in either by making a comment here or sending us your details via our Contact page. We'd love you to share your stories with us and if you prefer your privacy we can keep it between us.
NAMES HAVE BEEN CHANGED FOR PRIVACY PURPOSES & PERMISSIONS PROVIDED
MORE DEMENTIA INFORMATION: http://www.alz.org/au/dementia-alzheimers-australia.asp
PHONE ALZHEIMER'S VICTORIA: 1800 100 500
FIND OUT MORE:
Greg has some great contacts at Alzheimer's Victoria and he'd be happy to pass these on if you want to contact us. We'd love to hear from you, just click the 'Comment' link below or at the top of the page.
Brodaty, H, Thomson, C, Thompson, C, Fine, M 2005 “Why caregivers of people with dementia and memory loss don’t use services” International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, No. 20, issue 6, pp. 537-546
Bye for now,