With this journey I have a beginning, I know what the “body” will be and I know better than most how it will end.
The facts – I have mild cognitive impairment (MCI), the precursor to Alzheimer’s, (AD) but I want this blog to help others with this disease and to help everyone understand what is going on in MY head – a person in the early stages – for as long as possible.
There are many articles, blogs and websites for caregivers or as I like to say, “those putting up with us” but I’ve not found one I like that is written by a person going through this stage of the disease. For those who know me you will probably not notice any difference as when I’m out and about or in a social situation I will appear “normal.” I’ve always had the gift to gab and so far that hasn’t changed but when in doubt I shut up. The most frustrating part of this disease is not remembering names but Tom (my husband) has been a lifesaver as he will whisper a person’s name (whom I’ve met many times) so I’m not left there looking strange.…….Live with me a week and you will understand. Walk a week in Tom’s shoes and you may want to leave.
I’ve decided to start with a little family history. My beautiful intelligent Mother was diagnosed in her 60’s after I began to notice that something was a little “off.” She passed away from this cruel disease 10 years later. Some of her siblings also had AD. The end of this story is that I have a strong family history of Alzheimer’s along with many of my cousins.
Being diagnosed last year at age 65 years really puts me in the “normal onset” but the symptoms started a year or two before I reached 65 so I call it early onset – early can be an age or a stage. I chose to ignore these symptoms and tried to carry on. Then I hit a roadblock: my husband Tom. He sat me down and told me that something was wrong and we both had seen the same things with my Mother. This I already knew. Immediately Tom took over with the research finding a facility near our house that works with aging, dementia and Alzheimer’s. The appointment was made, I went and failed the test. Off to the Neuropsychologist for a more thorough and expensive test – diagnoses was Mild Cognitive Impairment with secondary depression – ya think??? With that comes dementia and with my family history – Alzheimer’s. There is no cure and progression varies. Some people are able to function, cook and drive for many years. I pray that I am one of them. For now I “appear” normal and am able to cover my deficits. I try to hold my meltdowns for home. That doesn’t always work.
With Tom being legally blind we decided to see sites and vacation in places we’ve always wanted to go. For now nothing is going to stop us. I do all the driving and Tom is my navigator – in the car and in my life.
If you or if you know of someone with early onset Alzheimer’s please pass this blog along. Someone may be interested in my journey and I’d love to hear about theirs.
Below are the first three stages of Alzheimer’s that would pertain to me. I am closing in on Stage 3. Hopefully the next four will stay away for many years. If you have a friend or a family member with any of these signs please encourage them to get help now. As I said, there are no cures but there are ways to make life a little easier.
There are 7 Stages of Alzheimer’s. Below are the 1st three:
Stage 1: No impairment (normal function)
The person does not experience any memory problems. An interview with a medical professional does not show any evidence of symptoms of dementia.
Stage 2: Very mild cognitive decline (may be normal age-related changes or earliest signs of Alzheimer’s disease)
The person may feel as if he or she is having memory lapses — forgetting familiar words or the location of everyday objects. But no symptoms of dementia can be detected during a medical examination or by friends, family or co-workers.
Stage 3: Mild cognitive decline (early-stage Alzheimer’s can be diagnosed in some, but not all, individuals with these symptoms)
Friends, family or co-workers begin to notice difficulties. During a detailed medical interview, doctors may be able to detect problems in memory or concentration.