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Two Years into it
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 3:16 PM
Joined: 10/29/2020
Posts: 5

Two years ago both me and our doctor noticed my wife had memory and cognitive problems. The problems are growing gradually worse.  The doctor did a brain scan and ran basic tests to rule out some health issues.  He told me privately he is pretty sure its ALZ.  She is 80 and I am 81.

I've read some very scary accounts in this forum of what others are experiencing.  However, in my case we still lead a normal life.  Her memory is very bad and she has given up balancing the check book among other things.  But she cooks, drives alone and plays bridge.  Her spirits are very good.  She doesn't seem worried about the condition and doesn't try to hide it.

I'm curious about whether this is typical or unusual for alzheimer's progression at the 2 year point.  Thank you in advance for anything you would like to share.


Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 3:49 PM
Joined: 12/19/2018
Posts: 7

My experience has been similar to date.  My DH was diagnosed 3 years ago, though he had symptoms long before that.  He is fine talking about it with others, and generally seems happy.  His symptoms are more severe than what you describe, but he seems content to stay at home and hang out with me.  I'm glad that you -- and I -- have time to enjoy with our spouses now.  

Wishing you the best.

Stuck in the middle
Posted: Wednesday, November 18, 2020 4:10 PM
Joined: 6/4/2017
Posts: 890

Every individual is different, but our situation at two years was similar to yours.  My wife quit driving because her experience in the insurance industry told her she would be blamed for any accident in which she was involved, but otherwise about the same.  I retired two years ago, when DW was about where your wife is now, and we just enjoy living quietly (very quietly since Covid).  Every few months I become aware of one more thing she can no longer do and take it over, but we have not yet experienced any personality changes or inability to do basics like dress and toilet.
Rescue mom
Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2020 8:58 AM
Joined: 10/12/2018
Posts: 1818

Sounds much like my DH with Alzheimer’s, at that stage, some memory lapses, inability to do checkbook, could not read a book anymore, etc. But I have to say....he too was driving alone just in the neighborhood, no highways, and seemed fine. 

Until he wasn’t. He went out in the car, and got totally, completely lost. He was so rattled cops said he could barely speak. It was a few truly terrifying hours. And serious reaction from cops. (No real damage done but emotional). We were very very fortunate. Many don’t get back so easily, and not found for a day or two. Many get in accidents.

This lost driving ability was not gradual. It was literally overnight. One day he was fine driving, the next, he did not know where he was going, why, nor how to get home.

If she does have an accident with damage, regardless of tickets/cops, she and you can be sued for everything you have. Lawyers seek out such cases to sue because they almost always win. Courts are not sympathetic. It is much harder when your LO can’t drive, but you are playing with dynamite —she already has other memory issues—that could also hurt others.

My DH progress has been relatively slow since his Dx maybe 3 years ago. He takes the meds, which may help. But he is absolutely declining and losing cognitive functions. The thing is, many others go faster, and different people lose different functions at different times. You just never know with this disease, part of what makes it so hard.

Posted: Thursday, November 19, 2020 5:32 PM
Joined: 12/4/2011
Posts: 19406

You may have a pretty easy journey where some have one filled with every obstacle and bump possible,

Regarding the driving please be aware of a decline in perception and reflex reaction.

Posted: Monday, November 23, 2020 10:35 AM
Joined: 5/5/2019
Posts: 63

Hi Karl. If I may offer some advice, I would first say joining this forum and opening up your private concerns is a wise move. I am now eight years along the journey and in the first few years I was slower to seek advice and help and I now realize it is very important for caregivers to accept their need for help as the challenges, even small things, can sometimes seem overwhelming. 

My main suggestion would be to reach out as well to your local Alzheimer’s Society. There you will find support groups for both you and your wife, one on one counseling, seminars and workshops to learn about the disease and how it affects caregivers. Having these insights somehow makes things easier. You learn you are not alone. 

My wife’s condition progressed to the point a year ago that she needed to be placed in a memory care facility. I could no longer provide care alone in our home. This transition was extremely difficult for me after 52 years of a happy marriage. But we are blessed to have a wonderful new local facility she joined with only 14 residents and a devoted caring staff. A year in, she is much happier and settled there,  enjoying the constant social activities and company. The Alzheimer’s Society gave me the counseling I needed to make this change happen. They accurately predicted how she would improve in a well managed memory unit. The men’s support group I attended was a wonderful support for me personally and offered me the opportunity to share advice with others on different stages of this journey.

I wish you the best and hope my advice can be of some use.

Posted: Monday, November 23, 2020 1:04 PM
Joined: 4/2/2018
Posts: 3849

Karl, welcome to the forum. Sorry you need to be here. My wife was diagnosed with vascular dementia in June 2018. It wouldn't surprise me if she also has Alz.

She was extremely easy to care for until recently. She became urinary incontinent, and is flirting with fecal incontinence. But even so, I feel like she is very much easier to care for than many others here. 

Early on, she lost the ability to balance a checkbook, and do basic math. She now has frequent problems trying to find words to express what she is trying to say. She has not cooked for almost a year now, but I was lucky in that I didn't have to stop her driving. She quit driving in the early 90s, due to other medical problems. She has problems with time. She might have done something a few days ago, but thinks she did that yesterday. She also thinks we have 2 dogs, while we haven't had more than 1 for about 8 years. 

The best advice I can give is to tell you not to look or trouble. You might face some of the troubles you read about here, or you might not have to deal with it. So don't worry about what might happen. Tackle the problems as they come. You can't go by what others are experiencing.

Jo C.
Posted: Tuesday, November 24, 2020 9:25 AM
Joined: 12/9/2011
Posts: 11495

Hello Karl and a very warm welcome to you.  I will echo others in saying that each and every person is different and will have a different journey through dementia and not everyone will develop some of the more severe conditions or behaviors one reads on some of the Threads here.

My step-dad had Alz's. and had a near 20 year disease process untl he died in his 90's from another cause.  His short term memory was really pretty compromised, his judgment and reasoning became moderate challenges at times, but he was able to use the bathroom and remained continent; he could shower with standby assistance, could dress himself when clothes were laid out and could feed himself.   He was content and happy; aand loved nothing better than sitting in his favorite chair and watching old TV programs in the afternoon.   He knew who he was, where he was and who we all were.  He retained the capacity for enjoyment and loved company.   That was one person's experience..

However, my mother, who had a different type of dementia had a different experience; it became a much more of needing more care as well as needing help from her Neurologist for negative behaviors.  Both mother and step-dad had the two different dementias at the same time.  We did hire an aide to assist and she was wonderful; it made all the difference to have her.  Later, in the last year and 1/2, my dear mother needed placement due to multiple significant problems and it actually turned out to be a positive for her in multiple ways.   We of course visited quite often and it worked well as the facility was superlative in it's excellence of care. 

Your wife and you sound like solid partners who care very deeply for and about one another; that will be a big plus as things move forward in whatever way they will.

One thing does give me pause for thought however; and that is her continuiing to drive at this point.  I know; it is important to her and possibly to both of you.  Yet; since her memory is compromised, this indicates she may well  have already developed some changes in reasoning and judgment.  Is she fully and absolutely capable of making a split second decision if something happens in traffic either with other cars or pedestrians? Will she have the ability both mentally and physically to react and do wha tis critiocal in said split second's need.    We have discussed on another Thread re continuing to driveand  that if there is an accident, this is a very litigious society.  Lawsuits do indeed come into play.  Attorneys always send for the medical records of drivers.  The diagnosis of dementia does indeed lead to using this as an "impairment," so lawsuits can become a big issue often with negative outcomes.  Often, insurance companies will not cover if one has a dementia diagnosis, so do be careful.

It is truly wonderful that your wife is in good stead and good spirits and has a sweet and accomodating personality; that is a gift.   Do let us know how you are and how everything is going; we are all here in support of one another and that now includes you too.

Warm thoughts being sent to both you and your dear wife,