Wed 4 Apr, 2012 09:09 am
Butrflynet drove me to my physician's office yesterday for my annual check up. She is a wonderful doctor and conducted several tests to see how much words and thoughts loss I'm showing. It's miner compared to most people my age. I will be 83 in July. I will not be able to think of a word for a few moments, but can usually remember it eventually. It's frustrating and scary.
My physician has started me on a medication that will slow down the progress of dementia but won't recover the mild memory I've already loss.
I'm lucky that Butrflynet moved from California to Albuquerque three years ago to live with me and our Dolly and Madison doggies.
I have one more surgery to undergo to give my right hip a new hip because it's failing and painful.
Dementia (taken from Latin, originally meaning "madness", from de- "without" + ment, the root of mens "mind") is a serious loss of global cognitive ability in a previously unimpaired person, beyond what might be expected from normal aging. It may be static, the result of a unique global brain injury, or progressive, resulting in long-term decline due to damage or disease in the body. Although dementia is far more common in the geriatric population, it can occur before the age of 65, in which case it is termed "early onset dementia". A recent survey done by Harvard University School of Public Health and the Alzheimer's Europe consortium revealed that the second leading health concern (after cancer) among adults is Dementia.
Dementia is not a single disease, but rather a non-specific illness syndrome (i.e., set of signs and symptoms) in which affected areas of cognition may be memory, attention, language, and problem solving. It is normally required to be present for at least 6 months to be diagnosed; cognitive dysfunction that has been seen only over shorter times, in particular less than weeks, must be termed delirium. In all types of general cognitive dysfunction, higher mental functions are affected first in the process.
Especially in the later stages of the condition, affected persons may be disoriented in time (not knowing what day of the week, day of the month, or even what year it is), in place (not knowing where they are), and in person (not knowing who they, or others around them, are). Dementia, though often treatable to some degree, is usually due to causes that are progressive and incurable.
Symptoms of dementia can be classified as either reversible or irreversible, depending upon the etiology of the disease. Fewer than 10% of cases of dementia are due to causes that may presently be reversed with treatment. Causes include many different specific disease processes, in the same way that symptoms of organ dysfunction such as shortness of breath, jaundice, or pain are attributable to many etiologies.
Without careful assessment of history, the short-term syndrome of delirium (often lasting days to weeks) can easily be confused with dementia, because they have all symptoms in common, except duration. Some mental illnesses, including depression and psychosis, may produce symptoms that must be differentiated from both delirium and dementia.
There are many specific types (causes) of dementia, often showing slightly different symptoms. However, the symptom overlap is such that it is impossible to diagnose the type of dementia by symptomatology alone, and in only a few cases are symptoms enough to give a high probability of some specific cause. Diagnosis is therefore aided by nuclear medicine brain scanning techniques. Certainty cannot be attained except with brain biopsy during life, or at necropsy in death.
Some of the most common forms of dementia are: Alzheimer's disease, vascular dementia, frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. It is possible for a patient to exhibit two or more dementing processes at the same time, as none of the known types of dementia protects against the others. Indeed, about ten per cent of people with dementia have what is known as "mixed dementia", which may be a combination of Alzheimer's disease and multi-infarct dementia.
Sucks growing old, but for most folks it beats the hell out of the alternative...
Just out of curiosity...did you write all of that message and info from your own thinking or excerpt the details from another source?
I wrote the first part. The second part was from the description of dementia.
Why did you ask?
You have a lovely daughter and a sharp mind. We should all be so lucky.
I'm glad the diagnosis was mild and that you're taking steps to slow it further.
Mainly because I've never seen anything which I thought that you wrote even exhibit a whiff of what I thought might be disorganized or fuzzy. You either are disguising it well or I'm just as fuzzy! It doesn't show here.
Judging by the breadth and depth of the info BBB consumes I'll wager that she could forget more than most of us will ever learn and still be ahead of the game.
She disguises it well, and is also starting at a very high level of sharpness. That's why it has taken almost three years of me telling her doctor that something is wrong for her doctor to be able to document what is happening. The various tests her doctors have given her over the years were comparing her results to the average norm. Well, she isn't one of the average norm. She starts at a level well above that and there has been considerable loss. You have to know her to see how much deterioration there has been and not just base it on average standards. Her doctor was finally able to document changes with the standard tests.
As the doctor was giving her the tests and mom started missing answers to questions, I started crying in relief that there is finally something tangible to point at. It validates what I've suspected for all these years and tells me that it isn't just me being overly critical and impatient. I'm relieved that it has been diagnosed and now she's finally going to be put on medications to slow down the progress of the dementia.
The mild dementia I have has not seemed to reflect any loss in me solving the daily newspaper tests every day. For example, the Cryptoquip, the Jumble, and the Crossword, including some of the New York Time's crosswords, Word Sleuth, and other sorts of tests. I always can correctly answer all or nearly all of the tests, but I notice that it sometimes take more time to do it. That's why it seems so strange that I sometime forget a word I'm trying to say to someone.
One thing I notice is that my spelling is not as good as it was. So some words I want to use but can't remember how to spell is substituted by an easier one.
It shows up more in problem solving and short-term memory retention.
For instance, one of the questions asked by your doctor yesterday was what the date was today. You answered that it was February 3rd rather than April 3rd.
She also gave you a list of three nouns to memorize and repeat back to her. You did that correctly. She then told you that she would ask you again in a few minutes to repeat the same list of three nouns. You concentrated on them for a few seconds and then she moved on to ask you to count backwards from 100 by 7. You were unable to do that and had a difficult time understanding how to do it. She then said, well, let's go back to the words, can you tell me again what those three words were. You were unable to remember any of them.
As far as the loss of words, you use me as a crutch for a lot of that. You can define the word, but often have trouble coming up with the actual word that is being defined. It takes a few minutes for the connection to be made. When you are conversing and struggling with words, I often supply the words for you rather than let you keep struggling. I don't know if that is helping or making things worse by not letting you find the connections yourself.
Daughter Butrflynet wrote: "As far as the loss of words, you use me as a crutch for a lot of that. You can define the word, but often have trouble coming up with the actual word that is being defined. It takes a few minutes for the connection to be made. When you are conversing and struggling with words, I often supply the words for you rather than let you keep struggling. I don't know if that is helping or making things worse by not letting you find the connections yourself."
It helps me to continue the conversation when I get stuck trying to remember a word I'm trying to say. But I get distressed that I can't do it myself. It's such a strange feeling not to be able to speak and remember as I have always done. Damn old age! At least I now know for sure I have mild dementia and I'm not going crazy.
Thanks for detailing that 'cause that does provide some insight top us outaside of the situation.
However, that being said, I'm 61 and I have trouble remembering the day of the week and/or the date. I almost always get the month correct; however, what I attribute that poor recall to is not working at a regular job outside of the home where that date/day issue matters. Nor do I have any clients or appointments where it is important or relevant.
FWIW, I did well on the test of counting back from 100 while subtracting 7. The tests of recalling the 3 nouns I did do well; however, I'm 61, after all. If I should make it to age 83, I'd hope to do as well as BBB did.
hold your dominion, BBB...
I fully understand this due to the fact that my mother just moved into a care home April 2nd.
Her dementia is progressing. The gerontologist tried Aricept, but had no effect. Apparently, this happens to 25% of the population that medication doesn't work.
That's what her doctor is putting her on. She said mom may not be able to tolerate it and if she does tolerate it, it will only relieve some of the symptoms, not provide a cure or repair what is already lost.
Her doctor says she doesn't expect things to get much worse, but from what I've read in a few books on the subject, I should start working on the guardianship and power of attorney paperwork just in case there is a future need.
I'm glad that steps are being taken now. Hang in there, both of you.
I should start working on the guardianship and power of attorney paperwork just in case there is a future need.
Yes, I would indeed do this, because it becomes so much more difficult once the disease progresses. I (along with my sister) already had P.O.A. some years back, "just in case" for various reasons.
Make sure and get an enduring
Also a good idea for your Mom to make a "living will", if she does not want any extra-ordinary intervension should she become incapacitated.
Excellent advice, Reyn. Worth its weight in gold in future costs and mental anguish.
that is scary and heart breaking. It is something that is wrong that you can do absolutely nothing about.
i wish there was something i could do to help, make it go away...or otherwise pull out a super power and erase it..
Saddened to hear this. My grandmother had dementia. Hard to watch. It's good that you're doing what you can to slow the progress.
In a woid, phooey.