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Alzheimer's Disease - An Insider's Perspective


My mom (and co-creator of LOVE & MOXiE) is living with early stage Alzheimer's.  Alzheimer's is the reason we became roommates and why we became determined to live our lives to the fullest on our own terms, upending our lives (I left my 15+ year career in law enforcement) and moving from NYC to Savannah, GA. LOVE & MOXiE was born from our desire to raise Alzheimer's awareness while enjoying time together doing things we love like creating fab & functional products that we hope make your life a bit easier while bringing a smile to your face.

ALZHEIMER'S - WHAT IS IT

Alzheimer's disease is a progressive disorder that causes brain cells to waste away (degenerate) and die. Alzheimer's disease is the most common cause of dementia — a continuous decline in thinking, behavioral and social skills that disrupts a person's ability to function independently. In its early stages, memory loss is mild, but with late-stage Alzheimer's, individuals lose the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to their environment. Alzheimer's has no current cure, but treatments for symptoms are available. Although current Alzheimer's treatments cannot stop Alzheimer's from progressing, they can temporarily slow the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve quality of life for those with Alzheimer's and their caregivers. 

KNOW THE SIGNS

As I stated before my mom is in the early stages of Alzheimer's.  If you met her socially you might not even have a clue that she has the disease but behind the scenes and to a trained eye the evidence is there - the impulsive poor decision making, not being able to tend to her finances, a hard time starting tasks or remembering the sequence, not being able to find the right word or remember the meaning of once known words.  She was diagnosed in 2013, but doctors believe it had been going on much longer.  The first clues were her missing doctor's appointments - she'd go on the wrong day, forget about it completely, or never make the appointment because she'd simply get lost, forgetting her normal route to get there.  She also became increasingly home bound.  The doctors said she needed increased exercise, to eat right, and had given her a list of things to do.  But no longer being a self starter, nothing was done.  I was a Special Agent at the time living across the country and frequently traveling out of the country which made it very difficult to really know what was going on.  When I questioned her or asked her if she at least walked around the block, she would say, "I have to go now," and would hang up the phone.  Neighbors that checked on her said she was increasingly staying in her pajamas and often didn't know what day of the week it was.  On a trip to visit me, I saw first hand how things had gotten out of hand.  She wasn't following the prescription check off chart I created to help her remember if she took her many medications. She had the wrong dose of one medication and forgot to bring another.  Luckily, I had already set up access to her medical information so I knew what she should be taking and a quick trip to the 24hr emergency pharmacy got everything straightened out....until, she took double the dose the next day.  So, at that point I knew my mom really needed help and I couldn't do it long distance so we became roommates and started our Alzheimer's journey.  Together we learned all we could about the disease.  Mom said having the diagnosis finally made everything make sense. 

PREVENTION

We have our good days and bad days but all in all we can't complain.  Mom is doing great!  She is on the Alzheimer's medication Exelon which has helped with her symptoms and slowed the progression of the
disease.  She keeps a routine, exercises regularly (she goes to yoga and line dancing), eats well, and keeps social and engaged via classes at SCI's (Senior Citizen's Inc) Learning Center here in Savannah (know as college without the

tests for the 55+ community), and painting classes at Chandler Hospital's Smart Senior.  The painting was a wonderful blessing of the Alzheimer's - you see Alzheimer's can lower ones inhibitions so her fears of trying something new were non-existent.  She's really good too!  She might not remember all the line dancing steps or everything in her classes, but she...and I...have learned to adapt. 

I know this won't last.  This awful disease will inevitably progress and ravage her mind.  She will no longer recognize me and she'll become a person I don't recognize - just a shell of her vivacious self.  But, until then, we will live life with moxie.

 

RESOURCES

Azheimer's Association - 24/7 helpline 800.272.3900 
www.alz.org
 
CaringKind:  The Heart of Alzheimer's Caregiving  
https://www.caringkindnyc.org/

Senior Citizens, Inc -  A wealth of senior services in Savannah http://www.seniorcitizensinc.org/

 

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