Alzheimer's Disease: Losing More Than Memories

From Dementia to Alzheimer's

Just 10 months. That's all it took.

My grandmother changed from a somewhat forgetful elderly lady (she's 92) who could get around with a walker and enjoyed activities like watching my daughter's gymnastics meets, to a wheelchair-bound and completely frightened old woman who has to be locked in her room every night at the assisted living facility, for her own safety.

She was a fiercely independent person. Up until age 88, she would still walk the steep stairs in her home to do the laundry and even attempted to keep up her 1/2 acre vegetable garden. Sure, she was a bit forgetful, but she was rarely at a loss for words.

When grandpa died, she had to move to a nursing home, which she detested. My mom had her come and stay at their house every month for a week or more. But my mom is not a nurse, and her home was not properly outfitted for these visits. One night, grandma fell in the bathroom. No one found her until morning; she had been down for 4 hours or more by then. That was 10 months ago.

Grandma slipped away from us quickly following the accident. Today, she doesn't even recognize her own grown children. Hallucinations frighten her at night and she has become unruly when its time to transport her to doctor and dentist appointments. Finally, we received the diagnosis that we all knew would come - though we tried to explain her symptoms away as merely aging - Alzheimer's Disease.

Alzheimer's Disease affects more than just the elderly
Alzheimer's Disease affects more than just the elderly | Source

Who Suffers from Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's Disease can strike people from middle age to the elderly. In fact, if you are over 50, experts advise to be aware of the signs of Alzheimer's.

More than 380,000 (that's well over a quarter million) people are diagnosed with the progressive disease every year. Over 5.3 million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's. But they are not the only ones affected.

Spouses, children, neighbors, parishioners, experience the "Long Goodbye," as the disease runs its course. One reporter on CBS Sunday Morning, whose wife was diagnosed in her 50s, describes it as attending the same funeral, over and over again, without finality.

Caring for a person with Alzheimer's is stressful and very expensive. My mother drives 1 1/2 hours each way to visit my grandmother twice a week. Most days, grandma just sleeps through the visit, and she never remembers that my mom has been there, let alone the fact that she's her own daughter. When they moved grandma from her "regular" apartment to the Alzheimer's ward, the monthly bill quadrupled.

Sadly, it can take years before the brain can no longer function to direct even basic functions like breathing. In some cases, the patient may linger for 8-10 years, not knowing who they are, not remembering their deepest memories, and not being able to moderate their emotional outbursts. Eventually, some patients can no longer feed themselves. Loved ones nearly always have to seek professional assistance for caregiving.

A Daughter Talks About Her Mother's Disease

Grandma enjoys visits usually, even though she doesn't know our names
Grandma enjoys visits usually, even though she doesn't know our names | Source

What are the Effects of Alzheimer's Disease?

Alzheimer's Disease gradually affects discrete areas of the brain that are responsible for certain functions. Plaques and tangles on the brain kill off cells slowly over time, compromising a wide range of functions healthy people take for granted.

You may notice the following signs of Alzheimer's in your loved one:

  • Forgetfulness
  • Agitation, anger or a general change in mood/disposition
  • Inability to recall recent events
  • Difficulty planning for the day or solving simple problems
  • Inability to remember names of loved ones
  • Confusion regarding time or date
  • Difficulty in "finding words" when speaking

Consult a medical professional if you notice these symptoms and they are impacting daily life.

With grandma, we believed that she had dementia and was simply aging, which meant forgetting things. The diagnosis of Alzhemier's Disease came following her significant confusion as to the date, the time, her changes in mood and - perhaps the most scary to witness - her hallucinations.

Just 1 year ago, grandma still enjoyed visits with the grandchildren
Just 1 year ago, grandma still enjoyed visits with the grandchildren | Source

Information About Alzheimer's Disease

What Can You Do if Your Loved One has Alzheimer's Disease?

Unfortunately, Alzheimer's is not curable at this time. People have reported varying success in slowing its progression using several drugs, but researchers and scientists are hoping to find effective treatments to either prevent or treat the disease. There are many organizations (listed below in this article) to which you can donate to help advance the medical research.

So, what can you do if your loved one has Alzheimer's Disease? I can speak from our own experiences:

  1. Be patient - whether they have confusion over the date or are asking the same questions repeatedly, keep in mind that its not their fault
  2. Be consistent - routines can help. Rouse them in the morning at the same time each day and keep mealtimes predictable
  3. Be loving - help them comb their hair or brush their teeth. Offer your assistance. Visit them frequently and if you live far away, send cards regularly. We find that a 45 minute visit is about the length of time that grandma can endure; we read cards to her and chat about the season, we walk down the hall and comment on the pictures
  4. Introduce yourself - its not a quiz show or a test! Don't ask them if they know who you are. My mom always walks in and cheerfully announces, "Hi Mom, its me, Jeanyne!"
  5. Talk about special memories - on a good day, grandma loves looking at photo albums as we identify the people in the photographs for her

Alzheimer's Disease Can Strike Younger Adults too

Find a Support Group for Alzheimer's Disease

The long goodbye of Alzheimer's Disease is exhausting. Your loved one is no longer the person you married or grew up with. You feel helpless and often you feel angry. Why bother visiting, if they don't even know who you are?

Time drags on and the progression of the disease can be upsetting as cognitive and physical functions decline and more assistance is needed for basic activities like getting dressed and eating.

Trust me here - you still need to visit. Your strength is comfort to the person suffering from the disease. I see the joy on my grandmother's face when I bring my children in to see her. She's just happy to have visitors to sit with her for a bit, even if she doesn't remember our names or even that we are related to her.

There are support groups to help with the overwhelming emotions associated with helping a loved one with Alzheimer's. Ask your medical professional for referrals, or consider one of the organizations listed below in this article.

We tried to entertain Grandma one summer day
We tried to entertain Grandma one summer day | Source

Maria Shriver Discusses the Impact of Alzheimer's on Her Family

Make time to visit your aging relatives
Make time to visit your aging relatives | Source

© 2011 Stephanie Hicks

More by this Author


Comments 94 comments

WillStarr profile image

WillStarr 5 years ago from Phoenix, Arizona

I lost Dad to Alzheimer's in 1999. I was the target of his anger, and for that I am grateful because he was a powerful man and might have harmed my mother or sisters. It was painful because as father and only son, we had always been close.

He was diagnosed in 1994 and passed away 5 years later, but his personality began to change at least a decade earlier.

We were lucky. The painful last stages passed quickly for Dad and then he was gone. The last time he remembered who I was was in 1997.

I will say a little prayer for your grandmother Steph, and another one for you.

Will


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Will, thank you so much for sharing your experiences with the disease. I wrote this hub when I started researching Alzheimer's. I hope to help my family members (mom especially) and anyone else that is struggling with coming to terms with the diagnosis.

I am glad that the painful stages passed quickly for your Dad. I am so sorry for the pain you had to endure. Peace and good wishes to you - Steph


BobbiRant profile image

BobbiRant 5 years ago from New York

Having worked nursing homes and with the elderly for over 20 years, by far, the most upsetting part of this disease for families is when the person gets angry. Many loved ones do not understand the anger and find it hard to deal with.


Uninvited Writer profile image

Uninvited Writer 5 years ago from Kitchener, Ontario

This is a very touching story. I've never had a close family member with the disease and I hope it stays that way. It is good to know that if it does happen there is support out there.


Karanda profile image

Karanda 5 years ago from Australia

My husband's father developed Alzheimers in his sixties and died a few years later. While most of us think of this as a disease that effects the elderly, as in 70s to 90s it can happen earlier.

From all reports, the person suffering the disease is less affected than those providing support. I wish you well with your grandmother Steph. It must be a distressing time for you and your family and I thank you for having the courage to share what you are going through.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks Bobbi - I would agree that the personality changes are the most difficult. We've seen angry outbursts and then other days, complete disaffect. As if nothing mattered at all. Things our grandmother previously enjoyed (Christmas carols, etc.) mean nothing any longer. I appreciate the comment - thank you for all your dedicated work at a nursing home. My hat is off to people like you. Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Uninvited, I guess in some ways we were "lucky" that grandma didn't get the disease until much later in life. I cannot imagine being a person in my 60s or 70s having to deal with a friend or spouse suffering from Alzheimer's. Best, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Karanda, I can only imagine what your husband and you went through. My parents are in their 60s and my in laws in their early 70s. They all seem way too young to get Alzheimers, but I do know it could happen.

I am praying for a cure so that fewer people and their loved ones have to suffer. Thanks for the comment - best to you and yours, Steph


Bob Ewing profile image

Bob Ewing 5 years ago from New Brunswick

Thanks for this informative hub, my mother-in-law was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's about 15 years ago and she died eight years later.


Husky1970 5 years ago

Alzheimer's is a tragic disease. While I have not yet had to deal with it on a personal level, I do know many who have. I am very sorry to hear abouth your grandmother. Let's all pray for great strides to be made in the prevention and cure of this awful disease.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Bob, I am very sorry about your mother-in-law. Those 7 years must have been extremely difficult. Thank you for stopping by with a comment. Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Husky, I do hope and pray that we can get some answers and even a cure for Alzheimer's during our lifetime. It was so sad to get the diagnosis. My heart goes out to others affected by the disease. Steph


Ingenira profile image

Ingenira 5 years ago

I read every word. I am deeply touched by your story. I am glad that you still take all the trouble and time to visit her.

Perhaps you can write another hub on how to prevent or slow down the rate of getting Alzheimer's diseases.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Ingenira, that really touches my heart. I was intrigued by the Mayo Clinic research (I linked to it in the hub) on drugs that can treat/slow Alzheimer's. I'd be happy to write another hub on the topic. Best to you, Steph


Mentalist acer profile image

Mentalist acer 5 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

I'm afraid research has dropped the ball on this condition...they don't have an reliable early detection method,and few available treatments,none very effective,but are taking over this phenomena at full stride now,tell your grandma hello for me,stephhicks.;)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Right Mentalist acer - often, they cannot even tell if a patient has Alzheimer's until they pass away. Its a shame. Hopefully that will change in the coming year. I appreciate the kind words, Steph


Frieda Babbley profile image

Frieda Babbley 5 years ago from Saint Louis, MO

Steph, this is my favourite article on the topic of Alzheimers. So much information on such a personal level. The videos you chose were so fitting to how you're presenting this. I'm so sorry that you had to experience this, but on the other hand there is something to come away with, isn't there, for everyone involved. My grandmother suffered from dimentia, although I really wonder if it wasn't Alzheimers. My mother took care of her herself, refusing to put her in a home after having to take her from her native country of Greece. I don't know how she did it. Thanks so much for sharing this experience in the way that you do here.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you so much Frieda, I did try to find videos that matched the topic of watching a loved one suffer from Alzheimers. Yes, we are all growing as a family as a result of Grandma's condition - it is another life experience. You are right that we often don't know if its dementia or Alzheimer's.

What a brave, strong woman your mother must have been to care for your grandmother in her own home. And what a gift, as well. Thank you for the kind comment - best, Steph


chspublish profile image

chspublish 5 years ago from Ireland

Thanks so much for sharing your very personal story. It brings the difficulties and sadness of this disease more itno focus, when you tell it like you do.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you so much, I wanted to write about this to help me process and deal with the diagnosis. It is definitely difficult and sad to have a loved one with Alzheimer's. I appreciate the comment - best, Steph


Cate77 profile image

Cate77 5 years ago from Sugar Land, TX

Thanks for sharing your story, your love for your Grandma shines through every informative, and touching word.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Cate! I do love her so much, and I just hope that maybe telling our story and providing information will encourage more Alzheimer's research for a cure one day. Best, Steph


DzyMsLizzy profile image

DzyMsLizzy 5 years ago from Oakley, CA

This is so sad and scary. I do hope they find a cure, or better yet, a prevention.

I never had to deal with this on a daily basis, although, when my kids were young, I did encounter the early stages of it in two great-aunts when we took the girls to meet their New England relatives back in 1981.

It was very sad, because both aunties had been 'sharp as tacks' all their lives. To see one aunt mis-identify a bridge she'd known since young-adulthood was startling, to say the least.

The other aunt, I nearly cried, as she inquired of me what grade I was in, in school. Here I was, with children of my own, ages 10 and 12, with me driving the rental car I'd obtained, and she asks ME about my grade level in school!! I was shocked and dismayed.

This was the auntie who had written me such clever letters during my childhood, telling the 'news' of her and uncle's daily activities as though through the eyes of their little dog.

At that time, Alzheimer's had barely just been given a name, and there was not much information about it.

This is a great hub, and I appreciate your courage in sharing the story. Voted up and useful.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thanks DizzyMsLizzy - I really appreciate hearing your own personal stories. It brings tears to my eyes. My grandmother was the only one in her family to get a college degree (not even her husband had one). She taught 3rd grade for many, many years and was a great teacher in the kitchen, as well. Now, she argues with you when you say its winter outside. She asks for her own mother (who died nearly 60 years ago!) and her father too. She believes she can see them, which is quite upsetting.

It is shocking, isn't it, to see how the disease completely transforms your loved ones to such a degree. Peace to you in reliving your memories. Best, Steph


amy jane profile image

amy jane 5 years ago from Connecticut

Hey Steph, I'm so sorry to hear that your family is going through this. My grandfather was diagnosed when I was around 15 and it was a long down hill road to the end (around 6 years later).

Your hub is so well done. Sharing so much of yourself will help others. Sending hugs across the country to you. :)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Amy - I really appreciate it. Its sad, and its hard, but to know that others can relate and maybe find some information to help them through it is a bit of comfort. Hugs to you too! Steph


robie2 profile image

robie2 5 years ago from Central New Jersey

As always a wonderful, informative hub, Steph-- and especially moving because of your willingness to share your personal story. I too will say a little prayer for your grandmother and hope that her downward slope is smooth and peaceful.


Judy HBerg profile image

Judy HBerg 5 years ago

Thank you Steph for not only sharing this important information about a disease that so many people are facing today, but for the thoughtful and personal way that you have done so. You are bravely facing this challenge and are teaching your children the value of compassion and understanding as well. Keep up the good fight!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Robie - I appreciate the support and prayers. Its funny, we can see how grandma's health has declined, but somehow the Alzheimer's diagnosis was still quite upsetting. Best, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Judy - thank you. I do hope that there is a greater purpose in the diagnosis and that we can learn from the experience - compassion, patience, and much more. I appreciate the comment and the thoughts. Cheers to you, Steph


Gordon Hamilton profile image

Gordon Hamilton 5 years ago from Wishaw, Lanarkshire, United Kingdom

Steph,

I love your words and your Hub, even though they bring back many painful memories. I can hardly actually believe I'm going to share this information. As a child, I was closer to no one more than my maternal grandmother. Unfortunately, I went, "Errant," for a number of years and saw little of her, (alcohol - not drugs!) even when she became ill. I will hate myself for that forever because although I did spend a lot of time with her during her last weeks in 1996, I will never know whether she knew I was there or not. Other than one fact and I swear this is true: the last word she was known to speak, several weeks before her death, was, "Gordon," when I arrived and held her hand. I spent three days constantly with her leading up to her death and I had left, exhausted and desperate for sleep, one hour before I got a phone call...

I am now back in Scotland, in the old home town, and actually see the same happening to my own mother. Early stages but the same. It is a horrible thing to watch happen to anyone, particularly to someone that you care so much about.

Thank you for your courage in sharing your experiences and I wish you and your family the very best,

Gordon


amybradley77 profile image

amybradley77 5 years ago

This is such a good thing to share, so we all are more aware and perhaps there will come a day when we can do more for our loved one's with Dlzheimer's Disease. I worked with the elderly for a few years at a facility, and now care for elderly at home. I have lost others this way as well, I do understand just how much strength it takes every single day to care for these loved ones. Not to mention all the devotion too. I hope we will all keep fighting the good fight here together, until perhaps it won't need to be a fight any longer. Thanks again, A.B.


dahoglund profile image

dahoglund 5 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

It is bad for all concerned. I understand that math abilities are the worst affected. my brother was an engineer and was hard hit by getting the disease at a tiem whne it was not well known as now.His first knowledge of it was when he got lost on his way home(in Los Angeles) from work.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Oh Gordon! That is heartbreaking, and I'm sure the memories are so painful. I do believe in forgiveness and have the faith that your grandmother has forgiven you too, if even necessary! You were there for her in her last hours and providing her the comfort of your loving touch. I wish for you the best with your own mother and perhaps you can find some measure of peace as you progress on through. Thank you for the courage in sharing your stories, and I will pray for you and your family. Best to you, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Amy, people like you are a tremendous help not only for the patients involved, but the families too. Your kind words and understanding is the best possible medicine. I appreciate the comment! Best, Steph


prasetio30 profile image

prasetio30 5 years ago from malang-indonesia

I am so sorry to hear about your grandmother. But life must go on. Thanks for writing this and share useful information about alzheimers. I know you can write this based our experience in taking care your grandma. You share useful tips, very informative. I learn much from you, Steph. I believe your Grandma give her smile in heaven. Don't forget to send her pray. God bless you.

Love and peace, Prasetio


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi dahoglund, looking back over the past few years, we did notice how my grandmother would be "lost" along familiar routes she had traveled for 50+ years. It must have been very difficult for you to witness your brother's loss of abilities, too. The ability to complete mathematical computations must have been so tough! I'm sorry you had to experience Alzheimer's first hand. Wishing you peace, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Prasetio,

I know my grandmother will be relieved when she gets to heaven. This is such a difficult time for all of us and she is certainly not the person I knew and grew up with. I appreciate your thoughts and prayers. Best, Steph


elderkind profile image

elderkind 5 years ago from New York

It looks like Grandma was surrounded by love and I hope on some level she was comforted by that. Great article,


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Yes, definitely, elderkind! That is primarily what we can give grandma at this stage in her life and the disease. Best to you, Steph


suzetteboston profile image

suzetteboston 5 years ago

I found this article very informative and moving.


K. Burns Darling profile image

K. Burns Darling 5 years ago from Orange County, California

My father was diagnosed in 2006, since then it has been a long and hard road that we have traveled. I am one among an infinite number of people who are part of the ever growing population of "family caregivers" in the world, and the projections are bleak. Alzheimer's related dementia and full blown Alzheimer's Disease are rampant in our country and throughout much of the world, and as you've stated, there is no cure at this time. Thank you for a compassionate, informative, and well written hub. I look forward to reading more hubs by you.


Sally's Trove profile image

Sally's Trove 5 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

Thank you for sharing the impacts of this disease from your personal experience and for providing the stellar information about the disease and resources for learning more.

One thing that's impossible to know is how the Alzheimer's patient experiences his own disease. One gentleman I know, who no longer recognizes me, delights in meeting me anew every time I see him and has a certain awareness about this...he will say, "I probably knew you, but I don't know you now, so I'm pleased to meet you again." There's an eerie awareness that he seems to have.

As there is no cure, there is also limited understanding about how the Alzheimer's patient experiences his own reality. And therein lies so much of the pain for those who love him.

The pictures of your children with with your grandmother are beyond priceless.


Rev. Akins profile image

Rev. Akins 5 years ago from Tucson, AZ

My grandfather was diagnosed and we had to move him from California to Arizona to be cared for by my parents. They could only help him so long before he was moved into a home. It was amazing how much the disease changed him. Before he was a very loving and helpful man, caring for others constantly, and afterwards he was very violent. It may have been from the fear of not knowing who was taking care of him or who was visiting him, I don't know, but the change was drastic.

Also, I am currently ministering to a church where there are several cases of spouses with Alzheimers. They are all in their seventies and each one has been moved to a home for everyone's safety. It is a sad way to lose someone, I am very sorry for your loss. May you remember the good times with your grandma over all the others.


akirchner profile image

akirchner 5 years ago from Central Oregon

Gosh Steph - That was so wonderfully shown in terms of what happens. Alzheimer's is the saddest of all things but then again any dementia is the worst. I have a friend who is 70 and showing all the signs - it is like seeing someone you love disappear.

Sad way to lose someone definitely but I always like to think that I will always carry a part of the people I loved and are no longer "with me" in my heart - the same goes for folks with dementia.

They may not be 'here' anymore but they are 'here' in my heart. What a beautiful tribute to someone you love dearly! (It shows!!)


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi K. Burns, I am sorry to hear about your father. It must be so difficult to be a caregiver, as well as a daughter. I will continue to pray for a cure so that future generations may have an easier time with aging relatives in the future. Thank you so much for the comment and best to you and your family, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Sherri,

My grandmother has the surprised, happy look on her face sometimes when we visit too. Unfortunately, the last few visits she has just slept through the entire time. It upsets my mom when Grandma says that she doesn't want her hair brushed (which she used to love) and just wants to be left alone.

You are so right that we have no idea how the disease is experienced by the person with Alzheimer's. My mom and I have surmised that if my grandmother was aware of her condition, she would be so sad and upset (having been an educated, capable person for nearly her entire life). Thank you for the compliments on the photos - they make me happy and sad at the same time. Best, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Rev. Atkins,

I am so sorry about your grandfather, and how wonderful of your parents not only to try to care for him, but also to recognize their own limitations and get professional help for him. You know, your comment struck a chord with me. Its the not knowing what you'll get when you go to visit a loved one with Alzheimer's. Some days, they are fairly lucid and calm. Other days, they might be having hallucinations. It seems like its always upsetting to try to leave at the end of a visit, too.

Your parishioners are fortunate to have a clergy person to turn to during these difficult times. It must be so hard to try to answer the questions of "why" when we just do not have the answers.

I have fond memories of the woman I grew up with and keep that grandmother in my heart as I visit the changed woman at the nursing facility. Thank you so much for the comment - best, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Audrey,

It is an incredibly sad way to lose someone! I am sorry you are seeing the signs in a friend of yours. It is helpful to keep the memories alive of the person they have been, while honoring and loving the person they have become.

Yes, keep them in our hearts. That's a beautiful sentiment and one of the most caring things we can do for them. I so appreciate your comment! All the best, Steph


mulberry1 profile image

mulberry1 5 years ago

This is very useful information. Part of what is so frightening about the prospect of a loved one having Alzheimers is the lack of good treatment. I've had a couple of Aunts that were diagnosed and later died with this. Now I'm the person primarily responsible for my 83 year old mother's health care. She still lives on her own, but of course has a number of health issues. Unfortunately, it's her word finding difficulty and occasional forgetfulness that distresses me the most.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Mulberry, I am sorry to hear about your aunts and will pray that your mother's condition is "simply aging" and not Alzheimer's. It is difficult having an elderly relative living on their own! Making decisions with and for a parent with respect to their care is another challenge. I wish you the best. - Steph


gg.zaino profile image

gg.zaino 5 years ago from L'America

Well done stephicks68. This is a wonderfully informative article.

As you point out- Patience, understanding, and charity are all key ingredients in our relationships with the afflicted.

I will be back to read more of your work.

write on! ... Peace and well wishes. I voted 'UP'

greg


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you so much Greg - I'm glad that you enjoyed reading the hub. I have just friended you too, so will check out your work as well, best, Steph


Highvoltagewriter profile image

Highvoltagewriter 5 years ago from Savannah GA.

My mother died from this disease and sometimes I also worry that I am getting it myself. This was well written and well researched and I thank you for this!


Laura in Denver profile image

Laura in Denver 5 years ago from Aurora

This has been a wonderful article with appropriate multimedia. Thx!


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Highvoltagewriter, I am sorry to hear that your life has been impacted by Alzhemier's through the loss of your mother. I sincerely hope that you do not suffer from the disease yourself. Wishing you good health, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you Laura in Denver! I appreciate the comment.


lindacee profile image

lindacee 5 years ago from Southern Arizona

I lost both my grandmother and mother to Alzheimer's. I cared for my mother as long as I could, but as you said it is extremely difficult for an untrained caregiver.My mother was a flight risk, so it was a 24/7 job. She even managed to sneak away under supervised care. It is a tragic disease that should be researched much more, considering the country is now faced with millions of aging baby boomers. Great Hub, very useful information for everyone. Thank you for sharing.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi lindacee,

The flight risk issue is a very real one! In fact, before my grandmother fell, my mom found her outside one night yelling for "help." She was confused and didn't know where she was.

That is very sad about your mother - how difficult to be worried all the time. Alzheimer's is definitely a tragic disease and I hope that we make some headway on the research side of things soon. I appreciate the comment,

Steph


Hyphenbird profile image

Hyphenbird 5 years ago from America-Broken But Still Beautiful

This was a beautiful and loving article full of information and compassion. I am a CAREGiver for seniors and see many of these symptoms. This is a disease that brings so much pain and loss.

Thank you for writing this.


Plarson profile image

Plarson 5 years ago from Alabama

I am so glad I found this post! Your words and heart-felt insight into this subject has opened my eyes to what some of the things my father had to endure as he watched his own father walk down the "road" of this condition. I am sad to say I buried myself into my own life and family at the time my grandfather was battling this fight. Now, if it should happen to my own mom or dad, I will have some base of information to began to build upon. -Paul


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 5 years ago from The Midwest, USA

Stephanie, I am so sorry to hear about your grandma. I think this is a great hub, and I want you to know you are not alone. My dad is only 66, and currently dealing with late stage alzheimers. It is heartbreaking, and I hear you when you say that just a year prior things were going well. My dad is so healthy in every other way, and has been for a lot of his life. The good news, is that he has a good disposition and somehow remembers his daughters and brother and sister. He is peaceful and happy too, which is not always the case. We are losing him though to this and it may not be long.

I loved your pictures, and your tips for what to look for, as well as what you can do if you have a loved one with Alzheimers. I so hope they find things that can help more in the future. I really am glad you shared this, it will help someone.


inbo5599 profile image

inbo5599 5 years ago from Michigan

Thank you!


lilibees profile image

lilibees 5 years ago

Very moving, very moving!


K9keystrokes profile image

K9keystrokes 5 years ago from Northern, California

Speechless. Thank you for writing this article.

K9


london55 profile image

london55 5 years ago from London

I am so glad I found your hub, I had my mums diagnosis two days ago. I knew something was wrong, but the cold hard facts are hard to take in. I am really struggling to come to terms with it, and you never think it will happen to you until it does. Its life changing for a whole family and i am scared of being the main carer and the future. I will we back to read your advice i am sure. Its just the saddest thing...


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you all - I am so glad I wrote this hub too! London55, my heart goes out to you. What a difficult time for you so soon after your mum's diagnosis. Best to you all. Prayers for you, Steph


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Dear oceansnsunsets, I am so touched by your words about your father. It is sad to think that he is so young and healthy in every other way. I hope that the coming months are not too difficult, and please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. Best, Steph


htodd profile image

htodd 5 years ago from United States

Great info ..Thanks for sharing stephhicjk68


A_K profile image

A_K 5 years ago from Delhi

Great article stephhicks68!Extremely touching and highly informative!

I read somewhere that people who keep their brain active through reading and research even in their old age are less likely victims of Alzheimers. Is it true? Any information on this? Also read, don't remember the source that red wine prevents several diseases including Alzheimers? Let me know.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi A_K, There is definitely evidence that keeping your brain active will forestall some of the signs of Alzheimer's. However, because we don't know what causes it, we don't know how to completely prevent it. Research continues!

I don't believe that red wine "prevents" Alzheimer's either, but in moderation is said to be good for the heart. Cheers, Steph


fucsia profile image

fucsia 5 years ago

Very touching story and Lisa's video. This disease is very difficult to face for family becouse ruin the relations and can generates feel of anger, guilt, impotency. Thanks for sharing.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Brandon, I am so sorry to hear that your family members have suffered the effects of Alzheimer's. It is a terrible disease and so upsetting to witness. Wishing you the best, Steph


AskAshlie3433 profile image

AskAshlie3433 5 years ago from WEST VIRGINIA

Such a sad, sad disease. It is so hard to watch someone you love go through this. My grandparents both had this almost at the same time. Great hub. Very useful. Best wishes Steph.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Ashlie, that must have been so hard to have two grandparents suffering from Alzheimer's at the same time! I can only imagine. It is so sad, isn't it? Best to you, Steph


AskAshlie3433 profile image

AskAshlie3433 5 years ago from WEST VIRGINIA

Seeing them at the same time losing it was awful. Just the blank look in their eyes hurt the most. I feel for anyone who goes through this. Hope all is well Steph. Take care.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

That blank look, yes. :( We just mailed Valentines to Grandma. I know she won't know who we are, or even that its a holiday, but I hope she will feel loved in some small way. Thanks Ashlie and take care too


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

Wow. My mom is in a nursing home with vascular dementia. They fought hard to say that she had Alzheimers but it proved not to be true. Unfortunately, the end result is pretty much the same. She, too, sleeps most of the time. Has times of anger. Total personality change. We do have to reintroduce ourselves. I am fortunate that, though much older, my looks have not dramatically changed. So, whether she sees the "today me" or is remembering years ago, much of the time she remembers me. Others in the family don't have that blessing. My dad visits her DAILY and has for the two years since she had to leave home. He could not possibly care for her. Bottomline, our hearts should go out to everyone with a loved one....and the loved one..with Alzheimers. Thank God for kind, loving trained people who care for them.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Sinea,

I am sorry to hear about your mother's condition, and to consider what you and your family must be going through. I agree that the amazing nurses and other caregivers that work with people that suffer from Alzheimer's and dementia are some of the most caring, patient individuals I have ever met. Thank God for them, indeed!

I wish you the best each time you visit your mother. Thinking of you and your family, best to you - Steph


Sinea Pies profile image

Sinea Pies 5 years ago from Northeastern United States

Thanks Steph.

Blessings to your family, as well.


OmNaser profile image

OmNaser 5 years ago from kuwait

Sorry this happened to your grandmother. May God help her and all of you. Thanks for the beautiful and touching hub which is also useful.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Thank you OmNaser, I so appreciate the comments and support. Best to you, Steph


BlissfulWriter profile image

BlissfulWriter 5 years ago

I like that short film "My Name is Lisa". It was so powerful. For those who have skipped that video, go back and play it.

I'm trying to find tips on how to stave off Alzheimer's (and will write about these tips on hubpages). Because I know it is easier to try to delay or prevent Alzheimers rather than cure it after symptom appear.

I also had participated in the Alzheimer's Association's "Memory Walk" in the past.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Blissful Writer - that short film is soooo powerful, isn't it? I loved it. Watched it several times. I commend you on your work and participation in events to encourage Alzheimer's research. Looking forward to reading about your thoughts on the disease, too. Best, Steph


Sembj profile image

Sembj 5 years ago

Alzheimer's is such a sad, sad disease - thank you for sharing your experiences and knowledge.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 5 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Indeed, Alzheimer's is very sad. My heart goes out to anyone suffering from the effects of this devastating disease. Best, Steph


Agnes Penn profile image

Agnes Penn 5 years ago from Nicholson, Pennsylvania, USA

Thank you for addressing such a personal and important topic. My grandmother began her battle with Alzheimer's as soon as grandfather died and she faced many nights alone. She spent nearly 20 years with the disease. Her two daughters took turns 6 months out of the year. So, I came to know her then.

Strangely, she improved at home. The time she spent at my cousins' she would sit in a rocking chair in front of the TV all day. They cared for her well, but no one incorporated her in the family. We lived and worked in a family business so we assigned worked to her that was neither boring nor over her head. She learned prayers in English (The Divine Mercy Chaplet) that she never prayed before.

She was fixated on being 12 years old and this did not change, but she did not loose familiarity with us. Names escaped her, but she somehow knew she had "grandma authority". We shared a room and she would console ME should I be having a blue mood. I miss her terribly. The person she became was not the same she was, but I'm glad I got to meet them both. We tried medicines to see if she would improve, but they made her sleepy or aggressive so we discontinued them.

The week before she died we witnessed her sit on her bed and stare happily in front of her. She stretched her arms up as if someone was asking her to dance and looked at us transfixed. Her body became soft and her face was young! Soon after she went into her last days.

God bless you, your grandmother and family. May this article bring much relief and hope to many in the same conditions.


carol3san profile image

carol3san 4 years ago from Hollywood Florida

While browsing through the topics today, I saw this hub. It caught my interest because my family and I are experiencing this disease with our mom. It is a heartbreaking thing to watch, but is good to know what to expect and how to handle things.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi Carol,

It is a difficult diagnosis to bear as a family, although I think (hope) my grandmother is unaware of her declining condition. I am hoping that research will lead to more answers and better treatments, if not prevention of Alzheimer's in the future. Best, Steph


seedplanter 4 years ago

What a beautiful hub, full of good information as well as a lovely tribute to this wonderful woman. I had an uncle who had Alzheimer's for eleven years. My mother was diagnosed, but passed away in her sleep about a year after her diagnosis. I'm actually grateful that she was spared years of this disease. I believe families can contribute wonderfully to a patient's quality of life, as you've shown. Thank you so much for a loving but frank look at one of the diseases that are striking so many families. God bless you.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Hi seedplanter,

You may indeed be right that your mother's passing just a year after an Alzheimer's diagnosis was a blessing. Indeed the disease is confounding and frustrating/upsetting for family members to witness. Thank you so much for your kind comment. Bless you, as well! Steph


SanneL profile image

SanneL 4 years ago from Sweden

This hub is very emotional to me. Just a few days ago, a close and very dear aunt, passed away from this terrible and sad disease. It has been so heartbreaking to watch someone you love go through this. Thank you Steph for sharing this moving hub, and sharing your knowledge and experiences.


stephhicks68 profile image

stephhicks68 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon Author

Oh SanneL, I am so sorry to hear of your aunt's passing. I know how difficult it must have been to see her suffer from Alzheimer's Disease. All the best to you and your family during this sorrowful time. Best, Steph


colorfulone profile image

colorfulone 2 years ago from Minnesota

I bookmarked this to come back to, as I am still learning to live in the land of Is with my, adorable Mom, who has Alzhiemer's. They are all different in the progression of this disease from what I read. Never the less it is a sad "long good-bye". Thank you for your recommendations that I plan to follow-up on.

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