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athgarvan

Dementia

images4XO3P6FQBecause I now experience more and more difficulty with memory I have been reading articles on Dementia - I shudder at the thought of using the term "Alzheimer's". Am I being morbid?

I see my mind as "me".  My mind is my essence. It can be frightening to consider losing that self or having it impaired. I can't decide which is more frightening: to lose myself, or to be myself but not be able to show it.

I understand that in the early stages of dementia changes are slight and it is possible to continue to do lots of things. One may:

• forget things easily, repeat things frequently,
• experience problems with language, such as appearing to be stuck for words or losing track of a conversation,
• find new situations or places confusing,
• show poor judgement or find it hard to make decisions,
• lose interest in other people or activities,
• be unwilling to try new things,
• experience low mood, become anxious or withdrawn,
• feel easily frustrated or angry.

All of these I can identify in myself. How should I be reacting?

Comments

The first thing you should do would be to see a doctor and get an actual diagnosis. All of the things you describe can be symptoms of dementia, or they can be caused by other factors, including simple dehydration, poor nutrition, carbon monoxide fumes from your home heating system, various prescription medications you take for other conditions, and/or inadequate levels of oxygen in your blood. Find out what's actually going on before you start to panic.
I am totally with you in seeing my mind as 'me'. Do you have a good doctor you can see to discuss? I know one of my teachers from primary school developed early onset Alzeihmers, and there are certainly things he did to try to slow down the disease.

Of course, some of those symptoms are present in many people. I find sleep deprivation is a terrible drain on my mental abilities. I forget things easily, words, names, etc; am unwilling to try new things. But I definitely understand your concern and worry. Sending you lots of light.
Probably see a doctor, but also, try out the following all of which have been shown to slow or halt mental decline:
* Regular aerobic exercise, walking is fine, but should be one or two hours at a stretch, not 15 minutes. At the very least a half hour a day.
* Weight lifting: doesn't need to be massive amounts of weight, but should require a moderate degree of effort.
* Learning a new language. Especially if you can manage to speak it regularly: join a class or a conversational group, or find a speaker of a language you don't know who lives nearby and will be happy to chat – shopkeepers of non-busy shops are an excellent option.
* Learning a new instrument, especially if it comes with learning to read music or to read more complex music.
* Being an engaged part of the community (you seem to be active in yours, so may already have a tick here!)
* Eating a healthy diet with low levels of sugars and moderate levels of healthy fats (too many people cut out healthy fats like olive oils and so on and their poor brains just sit there begging for some: no point having the tiniest bottom in the world with your noggin not working!)

One thing that a lot of research has shown is that members of religious orders who are physically suffering from dementia-causing diseases often show few signs of them. It's thought this is due to a combination of factors: they have an intellectually engaged existence with a sense of social commitment and a supportive community, along with an abstemious diet. It seems like a good plan to follow!
no point having the tiniest bottom in the world with your noggin not working

You, my friend, just won the internets for today :)
I have all of that too, but I have a benign meningiaoma pressing on my brain.
I agree with some of your other friends. I would talk to a doctor, before jumping to any conclusions.
Do you have a family history of Alzheimers or Dementia? I know that's not necessary, but something to think about.
So don't jump to conclusions and see a doctor. :)
Hugs, Jon
It would be a good idea to talk to your GP but all those symtoms can be caused my many things.Don't jump to the worst conclusion.A lot of people have many of those symtoms in Winter for examble, caused by Winter Blues.
definitely see your doctor as soon as possible, and list all your concerns for them to check. Knowing is always better than panicking and jumping at shadows.

Also, there are things you can do to help keep your brain active, and this is a good place to start: http://www.alz.org/we_can_help_brain_health_maintain_your_brain.asp
do not self-diagnose. that way lies madness.

do see a doctor, preferably one who specializes in treating the elderly, and ask.

*if* you are becoming demented (which frankly i don't see as the likeliest; self-diagnosis of this sort is misleading more often then not) you will want to do three general things:

. find a person or people to keep tabs on you and become ultimately responsible for your decisions

. set up arrangements for how you want to live that will be safe if your dementia progresses

. live as happily and comfortably as you can within whatever your limitations happen to be.

(n.b., this is not super different from what everyone should do; there are likeliest to be particular considerations around your living arrangements, but that's the worst of it.)


wowftvoe: i have been temporarily, but extensively, mentally deranged due to extended lack of sleep (ten days). it was awful, but mostly as bad as it was due to unsupportive circumstances. the presence and actions of a few kind souls made it ok.
Cautiously! Proactively! Ideas to consider:
* Talk to your doctor about your concerns. Prepare for the appointment with a list, including specific examples. (Forgetting where you put your keys, normal. Forgetting your brother's name? Not so much.) Ask for a cognitive evaluation.
* Make the doctor work! Also ask for: a sleep study (quantity, quality, and oxygenation matter); blood tests for Vitamin D, B12, and B6, for cholesterol, for.glucose levels, for thyroid function. All can affect cognition.
* Perhaps add a.post-meal stroll, once or thrice a day, and especially after.large.or starchy meals. Apparently, that helps minimize the post-meal glucose spike, which can be problematic.even.in folks who don't meet the criteria for.diabetes.
* Add a glass.of water four.times a day. Many peiple (I believe it may have been a tenth, in one study) who are formally diagnosed with dementia actually have dehydration. (!)
* Consider a mid-afternoon nap.
* If you wear glasses, be sure your prescription is up-to-date and lenses are clean and scratch-free. Eye strain is exhausting and distracting.
* Avoid.distraction; try to.do one thing at a time, mindfully, even if it's putting down.the keys. (Especially the keys, if you ever want.to.see them again!)
* Get.organized, if you are not. It makes.life easier anyway, and.if there is a problem, it's all the more important.
* If today were the best day of the rest.of your.life, what.would you want.to.do while you.still can? What changes and preparations would you need.to make?
Great strides are being.made on the.subject at present!

Dx improvements, helping target early Tx:
http://m.lef.org/news/LefDailyNews.htm?NewsID=21038&Section=AGING

Exercise, tea, vitamin D - all help:
http://m.lef.org/news/LefDailyNews.htm?NewsID=9919&Section=Vitamins

A forward-looking summary article:
http://m.lef.org/protocols/neurological/alzheimers_disease_01.htm


there's an online quiz I meant to link here, but I can't recall the name.
So many helpful words in what your friends have written and I do not have much to add to the discussion other than to wish you well in your journey. You seem to be a very discerning lady with considerable insight and understanding. As the Quakers say, I am holding you to the light and praying for light as you walk day by day.
FoodForTheBrain.org has some nifty info plus an online quiz that might help ease your mind ... or, alternately, give you ammo for your upcoming chat with your healthcare.providers.

Meanwhile, as the doctor told my.mother, if you forget your keys, that's normal; if you forget your way home, that's not.
Thank you for sharing this!
I've just got back to my desk.

Thank you all so much for your welcome advice on how I should proceed in the matter of dementia. Much appreciated.
*hugs*

I will add my "see a doctor first" vote to all the others. There's so many things that can cause any or all of those symptoms that it's really too soon to panic, though impossible not to worry about it, I'm sure.
I would be careful with lists. I'm the youngest in my family, and I see those things in all of my older family members, including "peers" who are nonetheless hitting their forties. They can also be signs of other things - are you stressed? Do you have other medical issues? Are you on medication?

I also think it's more about extremes, honestly. But if you're concerned, either way see a doctor.

Edited at 2014-01-04 15:05 (UTC)
Nothing I can add to any of the above, except to keep in mind that too many of this kind of list (for any disease/disorder) are so general/vague that everybody will score on them. Oh, and: do go and talk to a doctor...
Perhaps it is best if you stop being Dr Google and see your doctor to discuss your symptoms.
Vitamin B-12 deficiency can cause a lot of those symptoms. Have your doctor check it out.
And if the first doctor you see doesn't totally solve the problem, keep trying other doctors and health avenues. Some of the most common things that can mimic dementia are also easy to check at home and address by non-prescription means.

Home meters for blood sugar and blood pressure are cheap and easy to use (and finger pinch/tent test for dehydration is free). Even if you get normal results, that's one less distraction for the doctor. If you keep a record of how you're functioning each time you check your blood sugar, then even if the sugar is normal, you may see a pattern of functioning relating to time of day, time between meals, surroundings, etc.

Different things may be causing the same malfunction at different times. If you can find and eliminate even one cause, that will give you more high-functioning time to address the rest of the situation.
I can only add my voice to those who say to get a proper opinion on it - your GP, and a memory clinic or equivalent if all the routine tests are fine.

Also remember that any degree of depression can have much the same symptoms, as can so many other things - like B12 deficiency.

I speak from a degree of experience - when I became easily tired, began to forget words, put on weight too easily, etc., I put it down to being menopausal. Luckily my GP routinely tested my thyroid function when checking my hormone levels - yep - not the menopause but hypothyroidism. So self-diagnosis is not always all that accurate, even when, like me, you are a nurse!
Yes. See your doctor and talk about your concerns. There are tests that are quite precise these days and frankly, we cannot be our own physicians in matters like this one.
Wishing you peace...
For what it is worth, these are all problems that I have while dealing with depression. Mine is chronic, coming and going in intensity so I am not one that takes meds for it every day until it reaches a point that it is needed...and then going back off of them when I reach a point that I can cope without them. So these are not necessarily a sign of dementia.

I agree that a trip to the doctor to have a chat about what's going on is the best way to go. Also as another has said these can be brought on by dehydration. It is amazing how much a proper water level affects our mood.

Edited at 2014-01-04 21:27 (UTC)
I'll just add to all those who say see your doctor as these symtpoms can be signs of various things.

You are still very active on here and from what I see of your posts, also in the 'real world' and keeping the mind active is half the battle.

HUGS

Edited at 2014-01-06 08:37 (UTC)
Looks like lots of solid advice already posted here. I remember reading Flowers for Algernon when I was a kid and being very scared by the idea of losing one's mind. I think that's the only part about aging that really scares me.
I suffered severe brain dysfunction in 2004. It was extremely trying. Thankfully, I have recovered to a point. I'm very grateful where I am today, but I can tell you that even when suffering such a frightening and frustrating event, there are periods of grace and joy. I was enveloped in love during that time, and I marveled at the patience my teen children exercised with me.

The thought of developing Alzheimer's is frightening. I full well understand that. I spent over a year in deep confusion and another year in slowly regaining myself. As a fellow Christian, I can assure you that you are never alone in your battles.