Most of us can’t even begin to understand what living with Alzheimer’s is like …
Alzheimer’s is real and it is relentless. It and the other dementias are progressive, that is, they will get worse as time passes. Aricept, Namenda and other similar drugs can only slow the progression of the disease — for some people. There are no natural, herbal or homeopathic cures. Bottom line, despite what many people want to believe, there are no cures — period!
To have some clue of what it must be like to lose your mind and confidence is a valuable step in caring for someone with dementia. That’s why this video is so important.
This video (and the simulation) portrays someone in the mid to late stages of the disease. People in the early stages may still be able to function safely with little or no help from others. The rate at which the disease progresses varies from person to person. Sometimes the decline is quite fast; for others, it can take years. For example, Richard Taylor Ph.D. was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer’s in 2001, and still traveled worldwide on his own to speak to groups about his condition until just the past few years; now, he’s accompanied by his assistant.
Not everyone with Alzheimer’s has all of the conditions portrayed (macular degeneration, incessant noise, very sore feet, nerve damage in the fingers) in this video. But, other people can have all of them and more. Bottom line — life becomes very difficult and can cause extreme anger and agitation, mostly because they become increasingly frustrated at not being able to do or to say what they want.
But, don’t quietly accept the first diagnosis of:
- Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or
- It’s just old age (You have to accept the fact that s/he is getting older!).
It’s been my experience that some doctors give diagnoses like these because it’s convenient — it’s easier for them because they don’t have to take the time to do extensive tests to find out what the real problem may be.
Not everyone with the symptoms of Alzheimer’s or another dementia has it — prescription drugs interactions and other treatable causes often mimic the symptoms. According to Consumer Reports on Health, “Any new health problem in an older person should be considered drug induced until proven otherwise.” Many seniors take several prescription drugs daily and are often given new prescription drugs without their other medications being thoroughly assessed. Dangerous interactions and side affects — some with disastrous consequences — can result. And, even if it isn’t drug induced, it could be because of any number of other treatable and often curable conditions such as dehydration, vitamin B12 deficiency, etc.
IMPORTANT: Don’t condemn your loved one to a life of treatments that may be useless if they don’t have Alzheimer’s or another disease. Get a second opinion from a doctor who specializes in these diseases (usually a neurologist). If your loved one is 65 or older, Medicare will pay for the second opinion.