A Daughters Observations
A Carer’s Story about progression of her mother’s dementia by Deepika Walpita PhD.
It is my hope that my story, will help other caregivers to recognize the signs of dementia and take appropriate steps to enhance the quality of life of their loved ones.
During a visit in early 2004 I noticed that my mother, Charlotte, showed some signs of memory loss, which I thought was characteristic of the normal ageing process.
In December 2004, when I reviewed my mother’s bank accounts I found that she had been withdrawing money regularly but could not remember how she had spent it. My mother, had always been very methodical in her housekeeping and book-keeping. We had a long discussion about the challenges she was facing with daily activities.She confessed to me that it was getting difficult for her to manage the household and keep track of her finances, etc., and preferred if I would agree to take over those responsibilities.
In the latter part of 2005 my mother started to display signs of aggressiveness – she would get angry and scold people for no apparent reason. However, there were those times when she was passive and depressed. At first I thought these extreme emotions were due to her getting old and having lead a stressful life.
In November 2006, my mother went down with the flu. I found that the progression of dementia had rapidly worsened. She was incontinent and was confused between day and night. She kept dwelling on the past and spoke of relatives who had died many years ago as if they were still alive. My mother thought I was the substitute nurse and did not recognize me as her daughter. She accused me of stealing her clothes. I realized that my mother had lost a significant functional component of her brain, and it was obvious that she did not recognize me as her daughter anymore. I was sad and devastated to hear my mother speak to me as though I was a stranger.
During our conversations, I would notice that my mother’s speech was getting increasingly distorted. Her sentences were fragmented.
During a visit in June 2007 I decided to move my mother and brother to a quality Elder Care facility. My mother seemed happy and referred to the Elder Care facility as her new home. I returned to the US after helping my mother and brother adjust to their new environment. No sooner I got home, I was informed that my mother was having behavioural problems. I desperately needed help. I browsed the Internet and found the website for the Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation. I contacted the Foundation, which was very prompt to respond. Volunteers, including a professional nurse visited my mother and provided the carers with in-house training and some understanding of dementia. Volunteers continue to visit my mother regularly and keep in touch with me via email, making assessments and recommendations on how we may improve my mother’s quality of life.
When I visited my mother in November 2007, I found her very happy and well adjusted in the place she now calls “home”. It was such a joy to see my mother so happy. I wish I had relocated her and connected with the Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation much earlier.
Friends in Need
A Carer’s Story by Erin Muller.
Until 3 years ago, my dear sister Doris, then 85, was leading a normal life. She had a sociable nature – liked to meet people, give and go to parties, do gardening and cooking. She had to curtail some of her activities due to her age, but rest for life remained. She used to play the piano and piano accordion and excelled at crochet items such as jug covers. These were much admired and sought after by family and friends.
As the year progressed, my niece Diana and I noticed certain changes in Doris’ behaviour. She experienced quick mood changes, became quarrelsome and forgetful, often misplacing her belongings and found it difficult to work at her crochet.
Fearing these were the early signs of Alzheimer’s, I contacted a friend who introduced me to the local Alzheimer’s Foundation, which moved swiftly to assist me. They brought a doctor to examine Doris and some friendly volunteers visited us.
Doris’ condition worsened – she took to her bed in January 2006. As she could not do anything for herself, I had to engage daily help and a night nurse who genuinely cares for her patient.
I know there is a Caregivers Support Group, whose monthly meetings I would gladly attend, but being rather disabled myself I cannot do this. My niece, Diana, does her part in assisting with Doris’ well-being as do the Alzheimer’s volunteers. They suggest ways of dealing with her condition, and also cheer her up. I feel she is aware of their presence. For this we thank them.
Living One Day at a Time
Moving into a life which is impacted by dementia can be a shocking experience. The Person With Dementia(PWD) needs proper caring, loving support and round the clock nurturing. The primary service provided by the Foundation is the support for PWDs’ and their families. Ajit and Evangeline have been through a courageous journey and wish to share their story with the community.
I first met Ajit, a practicing lawyer in 1990, when he employed me as a coordinator in his Chambers. I moved on in 1992, but continued to keep in touch. In 2001, when I contacted Ajit on a legal matter, I realised there was something wrong. He seemed to be having some difficulty grasping what I was saying. As time went by I felt his condition was deteriorating. By the year 2003, I noticed that Ajit lacked motivation and concentration and suffered from depression. As a result he lost his confidence to practice.Ajit began to hallucinate and was forgetful. He was becoming more dependant on me.
Ajit and I were married in October 2004.
Over the next two years we consulted with Psychiatrists and Neurologists who treated him for depression and epilepsy. Ajit’s forgetfulness got worse and he would stop in mid sentance.
In March 2006, I contacted the Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation, who emphasized the importance of consulting professionals, who would investigate and assess Ajit’s condition. After interviews, brain scans and clinical psychological testing a final diagnosis was made.
I was devastated and heartbroken when the Doctor gave us the news that my husband Ajit, aged 58 had been diagnosed with probable Frontal Lobe Dementia.
The Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation provided me with counselling when I was struggling to cope with the diagnosis and invited me to join the Caregiver Support Group. As a consequence, I receive emotional support from other caregivers and advice from medical professionals present at those meetings. I look forward to the monthly meetings – it gives me the opportunity to unburden and talk of my experiences and fears.
I wish to make special mention of the love and caring provided by the volunteers of LAF, who are committed and dedicated not only to those affected with dementia but also to their caregivers. Volunteers visit our home and provide appropriate care information and much needed loving support.
We look forward to a happy continuing relationship with the Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation.