MOM HAS DEMENTIA, Our First Stage
Early Onset Dementia
I have created this page to talk about my moms first stage of early onset Alzheimer's, Dementia. Around 360,000 people are diagnosed with Alzheimer's each year, about 10 percent of them are under the age of 65. My mom was barely 54 years old when we started seeing the first symptoms of dementia.
Our First Stage
5 Year Period
Before I begin, I'd like to mention that my mom was diagnosed with type II diabetes in 2000. She always ate the right things and managed her insulin correctly.
Early 2005, after her sister passed away, my mom went through this first stage. It lasted about 5 years. My mom was close to 54 years old when we started noticing subtle changes in her personality. We didn't realized it then, but looking back now, there were a lot of signs before she was diagnosed with dementia. When her sister passed away, she was very depressed, and this is when I believe the dementia started. Maybe a trigger. It could be a part of the cause, who knows, at this point I wouldn't recommend wasting precious time that you can be spending with your loved ones to try and figure out the causes, but might have had something to do with it.
In 2004, where my story begins, the movie "The Notebook" came out. My mom always wanted me to watch it, more than any other movie. I always brushed it off because it's not my kind of movie. Up until last night, I had no idea what the movie was about. I read yesterday that it is about dementia. I had to take a break in writing this lens to watch it. About dementia it is not. It's about a husband that reads to his wife that has dementia and their love story. Two hours of a lot of mushy, gushy stuff, but the last 10 minutes of the movie was riveting. I'm glad that I watched it. I think subconsciously my mom was trying to let me know early on that she was getting dementia. I would recommend it because my mom loved it. It is a beautiful movie if you don't mind a lot of kissing.
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During this first stage, the biggest change that I saw in my mom was that she would repeat the same story to me several times on different days. I didn't think that much of it. Most of us will tell a story twice to the same person every now and then, no big deal.
Sometimes I would be talking on the phone to my mom, and I would be telling her something, and it would seem that she was not paying attention, and I wouldn't be getting the feedback that I would expect. I personally just thought maybe I caught her at a bad time that maybe she was watching TV, sewing, or playing poker on her computer while trying to have a conversation with me.
During this time, she would also get her grandsons names mixed up, but would quickly correct herself. She would lose a lot of things, such as keys, money, jewelry, but usually the item would turn up pretty quickly. She wasn't sewing as much. When she did sew she would sometimes make a mistake and get frustrated. When she would cook sometimes food would taste a little off, like she forgot to add the salt or had put too much baking soda. Simple mistakes right? No, this was only the beginning. She slowly stopped watching her favorite TV shows, but still watched TV. She stopped wanting to go to family gatherings and birthday parties that she was invited to.
Most of this behavior just made me think that my mom was getting tired of all the same things, and that she wanted to start slowing down.
What I know now about this stage that I didn't know then was that my mom would repeat the stories that she told because she wanted to hang on tight to her memories. She always repeated stories about good times, like her and her brothers when she was little, or what a great time she had with my brother and his wife at dinner. When she couldn't follow conversation on the telephone with me it wasn't because she was doing something else. She was distracted by confusion. The loss of objects were her placing them somewhere and not remembering where she put them, not someone else moving them like she would think. Sewing and cooking was difficult for her at this time because sewing patterns and recipes were no longer easy to follow. I don't know if she at this point recognized it to be a problem. TV shows were harder to keep up with because she was developing a shorter attention span. She didn't want to go to some of the family gatherings because she felt uncomfortable and half the time forgot some names because maybe she had not seen someone's children for a while, and ultimately she couldn't retain too much new information.
It saddens me that I was oblivious to this stage. If I could turn back time, I would have spent more time enjoying the same stories that she told over and over, and I wouldn't have corrected her as much as I did. The best thing at any stage is to just roll with it, and appreciate everything around you, AND ENJOY IT WHILE IT LASTS!