Archive for February, 2013

Posted: February 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

The photos and words here are so moving I felt them worth sharing with you


Worry (Photo credit: StormKatt)

Dementia is not a natural part of growing old

Dementia is not a natural part of growing old (Photo credit: The Prime Minister’s Office)

Swallowed my last antibiotic this morning. So good to be done with them but I felt taking them was probably necessary to rid myself of the flu/strep throat/pharyngitis. Yesterday I could not for the life of me remember if I had taken my morning pill. This had happened to me before and when I tried to re-cover my actions that morning I still was unsure which morning I had done what. Now! I know that this can happen to the best of us, life gets very distracting and at times I find I have done stuff as if I have been sleepwalking through life. I might come home from work and put my keys down without thinking and then not be able to find them next time. Or (and I do this a lot) wonder, as I am walking out the door, if I remembered to turn the iron off, put deodorant on etc. Drives me crazy!! I know this is not dementia or Alzheimers, t is just doing stuff while I am busy thinking about other stuff instead of being in the moment. However when your mum and aunty have previously been diagnosed with Alzheimers, and now my eldest sister is showing strong signs of suffering with it, I am sorry to admit I am a little worried.

I turned the computer on to google some info about what my chances were of getting ‘it’ and then realised that this search would probably prove fruitless due to the lack of concrete information I had and the value and credibility of the information I might come across.  I was also worried that it would just make me worry more about something I don’t really have a lot of control over. So I decided to put my worry/energy into WordPressing.

My mum suffered from Alzheimers since she was in her 80’s and she died just last year at age 96. Her youngest sister (85) is still alive however is also suffering with the big ‘A’ and resides in a nursing home. Both my mum, her sister and my sister Carol were very close having lived ‘together’ in a retirement village before getting the big ‘A’. The last ten  years or so have been extra difficult for Carol due to her having an intellectual disability. She did not handle the initial separation from mum and our aunty too well, nor the subsequent death of mum. Just the last few months she has been forgetting events and behaving in worrying ways. Carol was always the one to go to and ask for important dates. Whether it be a birthday, wedding anniversary or anniversary of someones passing she would have all the info including how old or how many years. Her behaviour, due to her intellectual disability, has been up and down but she has always been a gentle soul who loved helping others.

I called to talk with her a few nights back and was told she was not home. Alarm bells rang as Carol never goes out at night. On asking her carer where she was I was told that she was in hospital but that she was ‘ok’ the hospital staff had found nothing wrong with her and she should be home shortly. Her carer went on to explain that for the last 2-3 weeks it seems she has been going out during the day, getting a bus up to the local shopping center or club but rather than get the bus home she is calling an ambulance, saying she is ill, being taken to the hospital and then delivered home via ambulance. The hospital, apparently are growing tired of her…understandably, not to mention that this might be impacting on others who really do need an ambulance.

Her behaviour at home has gone from meek and mild to verbally and physically aggressive toward staff and other group members. Sometimes when she is alone in her unit she has worried staff with her screaming (at herself) and throwing things. This is all so out of character for her and to have her properly assessed might be difficult because of her disability,  and anyway what really can be done to help her? The family feels that it is probably time to look at other living arrangements, for her own and others safety. My heart goes out to her because I know that she does not understand what is going on and will most likely have a bad reaction to having her freedom taken away. Fortunately there is a very good and safe place for her to go where she will be with others that have similar difficulties, but knowing this is about to happen is very sad.

I don’t worry for me so much as I do for others, whose job it might be to look after me, put up with being abused and make the tough decisions if I were to get the big ‘A’.  I hope and pray I don’t have to inflict this on anyone. Chances are I won’t…but you just never know. According to an article in Readers Digest  Jan 2013 there are companies that can, for a fee test your DNA and let you know through genetic markers, the likelihood of you getting things such as the big ‘A’. The author of the article, along with her husband, sent some saliva in a tube to a company called 23and Me and received a wealth of information that she said provided her with some stuff she probably already knew but also a lot of “most interesting” stuff as well. Apparently the report can tell from your spit the likelihood of you having certain colour eyes, wavy or straight hair, blood type and risk percentage of specific diseases (over 100 disease risk factors). The company does stress however that it is not infallible as the test does not sequence the whole genome looking for known mutations, but rather SNP‘s pronounced ‘snips’. Now for these genetic variations to be given a ‘snip’ title they need to occur in at least 1% of the population. These ‘snips’ are believed to have no effect on cell function, however some may predispose people to disease. The more interesting information, according to he article was to do with ancestry information with evidence of origins, such as the authors husband discovering his genes are almost pure Scandinavian. Interesting stuff, and if I ever have a spare $200 I might give it a go……..or not. I think I will just do what I believe to be right for me. Train my brain, tick. Eat well, tick. Think positive, tick (most of the time). Exercise? yeah must put that on my list. But seriously, I know from reputable websites, that genetic Alzheimers/dementia is rare and that it is usually due to environmental factors or poor diet and if this sounds to you like I am just trying to convince myself I won’t get it, you are probably right. It will continue to be a worrying seed within me.