Hi and happy Friday!
This week on the blog, I have shared a series of both information and personal stories about Alzheimer’s Disease in an effort to raise awareness and also drum up some walkers and donations for our First Christian Church team. We will be participating in the October 8th Walk to End Alzheimer’s being held at Fairview Park this year. Registration begins at 8:00 am with the ceremony starting at 9:00 and the walk follows at 9:30. This is a short walk and one that is meaningful as families and friends gather to represent those who walk in memory of a loved one, in support of a loved one, or for themselves. We would love to see a big turn out from FCC and friends <3
Having said all of this and having shared so much this past week, I want to acknowledge something Russ said at the start of my campaign. Everyone has things they are asking support for. Sickness and disease and issues are part of this fallen world. As I type I am mindful of friends who have known the pain and suffering of a variety of cancers, genetic malformations, degenerative diseases and struggles of body, mind and spirit. And for every single person who has one of these, there are a circle of people who love, serve and support them. So I understand that each of these organizations are asking for donations.
My pray is that those who needed this information received it, those who needed to know they are not alone are now aware they are not and those who are being called to give will respond to that urging. And for me, thank you for listening again to my stories, because we heal as we share and sometimes that is a long process.
So for today, I want to give some of the signs and stages and will dot that with some stories from our own story.
When we signed up to lead a team for the Walk to End Alzheimer’s, we received a lot of promotional material. One thing is a book mark with the 10 signs for early detection. Here is the list:
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life
2. Challenges in planning or problem solving
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks
4. Confusion with time or place
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
7. Misplacing things and the inability to retrace steps
8. Decreased or poor judgment
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
10. Changes in mood or personality
One of my allies as I realized my father’s forgetfulness was more than just growing older was the pastor at their church. He contacted me with concerns he was noticing about changes in my dad’s behavior. Seeing him week after week for a number of years, he had detected some unusual things that were not characteristic of my dad. I was so grateful for his observations and his care for his flock to reach out to me. I would imagine not everyone is so welcoming of this kind of news.
Friends, if someone speaks to us out of concern for a loved one, we must give some credence to what they are seeing and respect that doing this is not easy. This pastor showed up the day I had to load my parents and aunt into our van. My father was combative and in a state of rage. However; being deeply ingrained to respect authority – thank you to the USAF for a military career that meant saluting a superior no matter how much you would rather have punched him in the nose – my father dolefully listened to his pastor as he was ordered into the car and told to behave himself.
Another thing I mentioned this week was a “Stages of Alzheimer’s” sheet I was given when we brought him here. I clung to that piece of paper like a lifeline, and I know it is still tucked away in one of my Bibles or Journals, tear stained and crumpled. There are two sets of “stages” that I could find on the internet so I am using this one, because I believe it most resembles what I remember:
Seven Stages of Alzheimer’s by Dr. Barry Reisberg from https://www.alzheimers.net/stages-of-alzheimers-disease
No Impairment – the disease is at work but not detectable. There are no memory problems or other symptoms of dementia evident?
Very Mild Decline – Minor memory problems or losing things around the house may be noticed, but not to the point where memory loss can be distinguished from normal age-related memory loss. Testing for memory will not reveal the disease to either loved ones or a physician.
Mild Decline – Family and friends may begin to notice cognitive problems. Performance on memory tests are affected and physician is able to detect impaired cognitive function. People in this stage will have difficulty finding the right word during conversations, organizing and planning, remembering names of new acquaintances. (Okay…this last one has always been an issue with me, so we see it is more a change from normal to this new challenge in a person), plus frequent loss of personal possessions including valuables.
Moderate Decline – Clear cut symptoms become apparent. They have difficulty with simple arithmetic, poor short-term memory (ie, forget what they ate for breakfast), inability to manage finance or pay bills, may forget details about their life histories.
Moderately Severe Decline – begin to need help with many day-to-day activities which may include dressing appropriately, inability to recall simple details about themselves such as their phone number, significant confusion. Most likely can maintain functionality. Still care for themselves independently and know their family members and some detail about their personal history, particularly their childhood and youth.
Severe Decline – need constant supervision and frequently require professional care. Confusion or unawareness of environment or surroundings, inability to recognize faces except for the closest of friends and relatives, inability to remember most details of personal history, loss of bladder or bowel control, major personality changes and potential behavior problems, the need for assistance with activities of personal care, wandering.
Very Severe Decline – this is the final stage. Alzheimer’s is a terminal illness. In this stage the person is nearing death. Loss of ability to communicate outside of uttering a few phrases, there is a prevailing inability to respond to their environment. They will need help with all activities of daily living, even possibly losing the ability to swallow.
As I mentioned in an earlier post, when we began to care for my dad he was around Stage 5 with characteristics of 4 and also some of 6. The stages aren’t in black and white and people can move gradually into the next. Also, as I have hinted, some of the symptoms are just natural to a personality. But the addition of the other symptoms help you realize where you are and where you are headed.
Thank you for taking time to read and become more aware.
Please consider joining us and walking at Fairview or donating to the research and support offered by Alzheimer’s Organization.
Here is the link to our team: https://act.alz.org/site/TR/Walk2022/IL-Illinois?team_id=754140&pg=team&fr_id=15539