Tuesday, May 20, 2008

4. Knowing the future

looking at the list of 10 things every new caregiver should know, I want to start in the middle with number 4...
Knowing the future
All aging related illnesses, whether acute or chronic have a very predictable course. You need to know and discuss with medical professionals what to expect. For example dementia from Alzheimer’s progresses very differently than dementia from a cardiovascular incident like Stroke. They are both dementias but they will be very different in the way they present and progress. In Alzheimer’s however, memory loss is only the beginning. Alzheimer’s is a progressive, irreversible, terminal illness.
The memory loss is progressive. As you may already know, it starts with small strange memory lapses. Unfortunately it progresses to total short-term memory loss, and in later stages the long-term memory starts to fail significantly. In stroke the memory loss is generally very stable and does not change until there are more cardiovascular incidents (TIA’s) . So if you were to graph the decline: Alzheimer's would be a steadly declining diagonol line, Stroke would graph like a stair case with long stable periods followed by a significant drop.
But like I said, with Alzheimer’s memory loss is only the beginning. The ability to reason goes out the window soon after. As more and more of the brain deteriorate logic and reasonableness go quickly. Then in the middle to late stages other things happen. They will become incontinent and at some point even lose the ability to walk. You can contact the Alzheimer’s Association for more detailed information. And because I just now learning the blogosphere, if you contact me with questions or comments I can expand on the topics that are important to you.

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