Introduction (long)

I am not sure which topic to list this as, but I wanted to introduce myself and explain where we are at within this journey...

My grandmother (who is now 68) has been showing signs of Alzheimer's. Close family started recognizing issues a couple years ago, but my grandma always convinced us that it was normal age related. These things were pretty much just conversational. Repeating herself, mixing up names/details, not remembering what we just talked about, etc... It seemed pretty minor, as she was (and pretty much still is able to function in daily life). Although we are starting to wonder about this now...

Fast forward to now and we notice the same things, but they are definitely getting worse and we have noticed that her judgment and reasoning are also being affected. She is starting to get more confused about things. She is having a hard time understanding simple instructions, and sometimes it is hard to even understand what she is talking about. Other family and friends have started to notice and have contacted me about it.

Also, Within the last 1.5 months, her live in boyfriend of 15 years passed away suddenly of a heart attack. This event really seemed to make the symptoms much worse. So much so that we decided that it was time to talk to her doctor. She gave us the okay to go in with her and released her medical records to us, but she has since gotten angry at us for "interfering" and going "behind her back" as she has said.

Anyway, the doctor did the full panel of labs and an MRI and determined that there are no other medical reasons for her cognitive issues, so he thinks that it could be early stages of Alzheimer's. Looking at the warning signs, I agree, but he is reluctant to give her a definite diagnosis. However, he did suggest that she start on medication (Aricept).

We have spoke with her about the medication, and she has a different impression of what the doctor told us. She thinks that he said she is fine for now, and doesn't have to start on the medication at this point. We are kind of stuck at this point for now. He did leave it up in the air a bit in saying that we could wait to see if the symptoms get worse before starting medication, but he also told us that the sooner she started medication it the better. She does not seem to understand this, as she truly doesn't think that she is that bad off. She does recognize that she is having problems, but I think she thinks that we are blowing it out of proportion.

So that is my story at this point. I have a million questions, but I will hold off and read some of the other posts before I jump in. I guess at this point I just wonder if there is anyone reading this that could share their insight on how to get her to understand that things maybe changing soon and that she is going to need our help? Anyone else deal with this in the early stages when their loved ones are still able to be independent? She is still able to take care of herself and for the most part function, it's just that we know there is a problem and know that it will be getting worse if we don not do anything about it.

p.s. in case you are wondering why I (as her granddaughter) am so involved I can share a little detail. My mother had me at age 16, and my entire life I have looked at my grandmother as more of a mother to me. My mother has been in and out of our life and has her own issues. I also have an aunt (my mom’s sister) that is just as involved as I am. Together we are most likely going to be the primary caretakers, but there are also other grown grandchildren that will most likely help with care, It’s just that I am the eldest grandchild and I am the closest to my grandma.

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It's so good that you are able to share responsibility with your Aunt in the care of your Grandmother. The difficulty with folks who are in denial and showing signs of forgetfulness seems to be one of the biggest issues. They are living in a different kind of reality.

I hope you find ways to gain your Grandmother's cooperation and it seems the key is avoiding arguments and confrontations. She'll have to think it's in her best interest to trust you.

It's going to take a lot of patience on your part.

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Yes, patience is definitely the thing that I need to work on the most. I am always the one in control and looking ahead, and those traits do not go hand in hand with patience and taking things one day at a time. As I do more research I want to look into counseling for our family because I think it might help get us to communicate the right way.

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Getting objective insights and better tools for communicating can be very helpful. It has been in my life. This again helps me to realize how even something like Alzheimer's can be an opportunity for all of us to grow and develop more fully and to learn how to love more perfectly. I really appreciate your courage and willingness to help and love your grandma. It's inspiring to me.

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Ask me anything you want directly as I had many years of experience with mom. I'm here to help. Her routine was changed drastically and that worsen their symptoms. Try and keep her back on a routine. Stop the meds. This disease robs them of any quality of life and prolonging it makes everyone miserable. I found meds were used for pain and sedation only.

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I reread my post and thought it might appear that it wasn't a sympathetic response and I am sorry. However, everyone eventually comes down the road and journey that mom and I went down. Bless you for stepping up!

Peace and love!

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I admire anyone who is worried and concern about a family member. It was recommended to me to get the book "36 Hour Day", please if anything get this book and read it. It will give you all kinds of helpful infomation that you will need for this. I was very lucky, as my Mom told me when she wanted to go into a assisted living facility. She knew that she was changing and I also knew.

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From what you wrote it may be a good idea to have your mother evaluated by a neuropsychologist. That is what was recommended for my husband. He will do testing and more likely to give a "diagnosis." I'm surprised that her primary care doctor didn't suggest that. Her test results should then be sent to her primary care doctor.

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Maybe since she realizes that she has a problem you could explain that the medicine would keep her condition from getting worse. Before you start her on medication it would probably be best if you have some testing done with a neuropsychologist.

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