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What To Do When You Think Its Alzheimers

Published by 4Hope on 2005/10/15 (5005 reads)
On September 28, 2005, Barb spoke with Dr. James Griffin, KEOM 88.5 FM Station Director, about what to do when you suspect a loved one has Alzheimer's Disease, as well as things to do after the diagnosis is confirmed. This is the script of that interview. These segments are occasionally featured during the five minute, daily Community Focus segments.

What To Do When Its Alzheimers
Recorded at the KEOM Studios on September 28, 2005

Dr. Griffin: Today’s topic is about Alzheimer’s disease and a few suggestions about what people can do when they wonder if a loved one might have the disease and what they can do to help if they are diagnosed with Alzheimer's Disease (AD).


Barb: You know, Alzheimer’s disease is such a hard disease process for the patient and oftentimes harder for family and friends. And because the disease is progressively degenerative, family and friends can feel like there is so much that’s uncertain and beyond their control. In terms of diagnosing the disease, sometimes, it’s even hard to tell if a person is just experiencing normal changes in memory with age or perhaps the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s? When a person IS diagnosed with the disease, families worry about what will be coming down the road for them in changes in health, personality and behavior – and can really feel helpless and overwhelmed by it all. So, I’d like to propose 5 things that may help listeners feel some sense of “control” in this whole process.

Dr. Griffin: Terrific – what are those 5 points, Barb?

Barb: 1. When unsure about a loved one’s memory changes and whether this could be AD, try to note those changes in a person’s memory that seem to be happening more frequently or affect one’s ability to do some common activities of daily living. You may also notice changes in personality or behavior – such as seeming more depressed or irritable. Jot down those times that you notice these changes - this will help you see if there’s a pattern or consistency to memory or thinking problems.

2. When in doubt, contact a qualified doctor- especially a geriatric specialist. Only a thorough evaluation and assessment can offer a diagnosis of possible or probable AD. Generally, one would need an assessment which would include a physical, psychiatric and neurological exam, health history intake, blood work, neuropsychiatric tests, and an MRI to the brain to help make the diagnosis of AD.

3. If a medication for Alzheimer’s disease is prescribed, be sure to let the doctor know if there’s any problematic reactions to the medication – also, be sure to not discontinue a medication without first consulting the physician. These medications are meant to slow down the progression of the disease and address other symptoms – just because you don’t see memory improvement , don’t assume that the medications aren’t working and stop taking them!!

4. Get information about the disease process from your doctor, from books on Alzheimer’s disease and from the Alzheimer’s Association. Basic information about ways to better care for your loved one as well as yourself, legal considerations, community resources, etc., all help one feel better prepared for what might lie down the road. Caregiver support groups can also be enormously helpful.

5. Although I just mentioned the Alzheimer’s Association – I’ll mention it again!!! This organization offers a tremendous amount of information and assistance on issues relating to AD – The national website is http://www.alz.org or phone, 800.272.3900. You can also call your local chapter for resources close to home – the Dallas chapter phone is 800.279.3900. Another way to feel you are doing something to help the cause of AD is to participate in their annual Memory Walk - this year’s Dallas event is on Nov. 5th at the Dallas Zoo!! Lastly, UT Southwestern’s Memory Research Unit offers patients and families ways to participate in Alzheimer’s research - which can benefit the patient, family and the AD cause! Call 214-648-9376 for more information at UT Suthwestern School of Medicine.

Tags: dementia   suffering   alzheimers   behavior  

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