Kathleen W. - Alzheimer's Tears the Heart


Alzheimer’s Tears at the Heart

            I really begin to become acquainted with dementia in 2011. My husband was having health issues of various kinds and I saw the memory problems, confusion, but yet no doctor was willing to commit themselves to tell me we should check for Alzheimer’s.

            In 2012, a doctor in the ER whom he was seeing for a kidney stone attack, pulled me aside and said, “Do you know your husband has dementia???”  No….well, he does and you need to get him to someone to help him. That was the beginning of my new life with dementia or Alzheimer’s.

            He was finally accepted into the veteran’s medical because of being a veteran. It was tough at first. After another unhappy visit to the ER because of dehydration problems, a visit with a social worker too, he was finally sent for evaluation and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. While not the diagnosis you want, it certainly made my life easier when we went to new doctors because of it.

            Medications were tried and all unsuccessful. His short term memory has certainly changed tremendously and I see the long term one changing too. But…this is “what happens when you get his age -74”; you just wait til you get my age.

            He only has “2” teeth so meals are an issue but he would never wear his false teeth or hearing aids much less keep track of them. We try to keep the 2 healthy but it is a challenge because of his poor diet. He only drinks Mountain Dews and eats unhealthy snacks but… I do what I do. Water is TABOO! As is coffee and milk.

            He has developed reflux disease and if you leave him on those medicines which help, he develops diarrhea at unexpected times and it upsets him as well as ruining his clothes.

           To help my understanding of the disease, the local commission on aging helped me get into a course on MEMORY CARE. Boy did I learn a lot. “Pick your battles” but the timing can be terrible; don’t argue; don’t….don’t… but you do.

           It is PREACHED to the CAREGIVER over and over  - Take care of yourself and you try. Almost 2 weeks ago, I had a heart attack. It put things into chaos at home. My son, 4 hours away, had to come home for a few days and help. I had a stint and am doing better.  We are working on getting me better; trying to get help in for me and of course, he “remembers none of that. Said we didn’t tell him…doesn’t remember visiting at the hospital and has gotten upset with me over trivial issues since I got home.” (that in turn upsets me though getting better about it)
          It showed us that “we HAVE to have a plan in place” for someone to step in and help (which he thinks he doesn’t need) or take him to a nursing facility in case I get sick for any reason and can’t stay at home. My son was able to get home this time, but has no family leave yet at work and I don’t want him to lose his job nor does he plus he has a family to care for.

          I am working on these ideas  with local agencies who are trying to help me while trying to take care of myself. I am a “reacher outer-“ so to speak; have been an advocate to others from what I have learned about the disease and we will get this worked out, whether he likes it or not.

When the mood hits, I write – I share – I care. But…Alzheimer’s Tears the heart!