Is it normal for Alzheimer's disease to progress quickly, when phsycially Mom is healthy?
My Mother has been diagnosed with mild-moderate Alzheimer's/Dementia. Over the last month she has developed serious confusion, memory loss, anti-social and very depressed moods. Is this Alzheimer's or dementia and could it come on so quickly? We are at a loss. Physically, very healthy. Age 87.
Dear confused about mom:
I'm sorry you're dealing with a sudden onset of new symptoms and behaviors with your mother.
Yes, everything you described "“ confusion, memory loss, mood swings etc. - can be directly attributed to her diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. No one can predict how quickly an Alzheimer's patient will progress through the many changes and stages of the disease, and not every patient experiences every possible symptom or behavior.
You stated that your mother has been diagnosed, I assume by a neurologist, as having Alzheimer's. If that is the case, you can be of tremendous help to the doctor by writing down your mom's changing moods, behaviors and events that trigger your mom's confusion and depression.
Once you have documented your mother's many new symptoms over a week or two, make an appointment to have her seen again by her neurologist. You must attend that meeting, and provide the doctor with a typed or computer printed copy of your notes.
If possible, try to have the neurologist review those notes prior to the actual appointment so s/he can focus on your mother with that advance knowledge of the problems. The doctor should be able to determine if some of your mother's problems might be relieved by treatment with anti-anxiety or anti-depressant drugs.
I could not determine where your mother is living "“ her own home, with you, or in a facility. Regardless, it will be very helpful if your mother can be placed on a standardized daily schedule that has similar activities every day at approximately the same times. Alzheimer's patients need structure and consistency, and a daily schedule should include activities like: getting up about the same time daily, shower or wash-up, dress & make-up, breakfast, some physical activity like a walk, phone calls to/from friends & family, a drive to the grocery store, lunch, a nap, some television, another walk or involvement with music or outside socialization, dinner, TV and something that helps relax her, then bed.
While not all these activities occur every day, this is a typical format of activities at many assisted & memory specific facilities.
Combining a consistent schedule including socialization and if prescribed, drugs for mood modification, will keep your mom on a more even keel. It may not however alter the speed of her decline, as that is an unpredictable variable with Alzheimer's patients.
Have her do what she is capable of to maintain her physical fitness and good health, and give her patience, attention and love "“ she'll recognize gifts those throughout her journey down the Alzheimer's path, even if names and faces begin to fade from her memory.
There are some wonderful books that can give you a basic understanding of what is going on and what may possibly happen over time with your mother "“ I authored such a book and it's available at Amazon or on my website.
However, no book will be able to answer the questions as to how quickly events will change or why your mother is or is not going through a certain stage or behavior, as the disease is unique to each patient.
I wish you the best in your role as a caregiver and patient daughter.
I think this is the most honest answer I've gotten in quite a while. Thanks for spelling things out in "black and white". I will definitely start a journal now.
Thank you so much,
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