Wednesday, January 27, 2016

The perpetual fear of Alzheimer's Disease

Alzheimer's runs in my mother's side of the family. She had it, two sisters had it, and one brother has it now. One brother had Parkinson's, which may or may not be related.

These don't make for good odds. Merrilee's funeral brought this all to the forefront.  One of her early signs was severe anxiety, which was unusual for her. She went to therapy for help. I have been anxious all my life, but the last two years, my anxiety has been over the top. I went to therapy last year.

So Alzheimer's is a big fear.

My biggest fear is that Tom and I are getting it at the same time, and that we are going to leave our kids with a huge mess of care-taking that will exhaust them. They will forget that we were ever charming, humorous people.

Just as I wrote that, I heard one of my sons say, "When were you ever charming?"

Shut up.

You can look up the ten early signs of Alzheimer's yourself.

This is what I notice about Tom and me:

--We find it more difficult to organize and carry out plans. Both of us hate cooking anything.
--Mood changes. We have turned into different people than we once were.
--Inappropriate behavior. (Not that we've ever been the most appropriate people on earth--that was never the goal).
--Whatever was ditzy is now ditzier.
--Some loss of spatial and facial recognition.
--A serious disinterest in social engagement.
--Repeating stories ad infinitum. ( I find that a lot of older people have lost their whole sense of pacing when it comes to storytelling. Not quite the same thing, as repeating, but annoying none the less.)
--Paranoia where there was none before.

Still, we try to clobber each other each day at Parcheesi.  I've made a wonderful indoor garden in one corner. He's painting and keeps up with friends on Facebook and Gmail. We still like each other.

A day at a time.

Pacing, pacing.


  1. My mom's biggest fear is to be mentally impaired and a burden. But as a lifelong caretaker of someone who IS mentally impaired, I don't really care for the word "burden." It's just my life and my Jack is a person. We are people together in a weird way. The best part is, in heaven he'll be smarter than me and probably have lots more responsibilities.

  2. Louise this hit home. Both my parents had dementia. Every time I forget a word or lose track of what I was doing, I worry. Lumosity wasn't the cure. I would encourage you to rage against disinterest in social engagement. Cultivate a big life - with a wide range of friends and interests. As both my parents' world shrank and condensed, they lost their ability to understand "otherness".

  3. My mother has dementia. It is trying, but she is cheerful and is aware of the current shortcomings. There are chapters of our lives, as mother & daughter, which have closed and are closing, and that is the most difficult thing for me to experience. I want the Mom back, who could call me and chat and gossip and laugh and offer sound advice. Now, I have my Mother, not my Mom, and she can converse quite well with me, but, it's not my Mom.