Back in 2005 when I was living in Utah, my mother called to say that my father had been hospitalized.
That’s a call no one wants to receive.
A few days later my mother called to ask if I could move back to California where I grew up to help her care for my father.
The next month was spent giving my notice at the apartment where I was living, cleaning the apartment, getting a storage unit to store my things, and then moving back to California to help care for my father.
Oh, one other thing…my mother mentioned that my father had dementia.
Just the name alone sounded ugly.
At that time about all I knew was that dementia and Alzheimer’s had something to do with the brain, and people suffering from the diseases became very forgetful. Some even got to a point where they couldn’t even recognize their own family members.
That brought up other questions in my mind as well. Like, what, if any, is the difference between dementia and Alzheimer’s? What are the signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia, besides forgetfulness?
After moving back with my parents, I got a first-hand look at the sad effects of one’s mind as a result of dementia.
I got a job and was working during the day, and I remember my mother would complain at times to me of the things my father would say or do.
At first I simply brushed them off as idle complaints.
But one evening, that all changed.
My parents and I were watching television. That usually included the typical evening lineup of “Wheel of Fortune” followed later by “Deal or No Deal.”
At one point my father looked around and then asked, “Where is she?”
“Who?” I asked.
“My wife,” my father replied.
My mother, not being the most patient person in the world, yelled at my father, “I! I’m your wife, you crazy nut! Now get your mind on the television!”
I wish at that time my mother and I had known about journaling and how it can help relieve caregiver stress. We definitely would have had some interesting stories to write, especially my mother!
I knew then that my mother’s complaints weren’t just idle ramblings. She had to deal with this behavior from my father every day while I was at work and it was definitely starting to wear on her.
So, what are the signs of Alzheimer’s and dementia? Are they different words for the same thing?
For the “signs,” I took the information based on an article I read over at APlaceforMom.com, to create a visual infographic.
As far as the difference between the Alzheimer’s and dementia, I really like the explanation over at Alzheimer’s Reading Room.
Dr. Robert Stern, Director of the BU ADC Clinical Core, explains, “In a nutshell, dementia is a symptom, and AD is the cause of the symptom.”
He also explained in the article that it’s like saying you have a “fever.” Though you may have a fever, you then need to find out what is causing the fever. Is it the flu, or some other illness?
Dementia is the “fever,” Alzheimer’s is the “illness.”
Have you, or someone you know, dealt with a loved one suffering from Alzheimer’s? If so, what steps did you take to deal with it on a daily basis? Let us know in the comments below.