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ARTICLES & ANSWERS

Senior Life and Jennifer Meagher RN are featured on the WHEC News 10 website: www.WHEC.com. Jennifer answers questions from people like you and writes an article as well. She’s been writing for News 10 since 2007.

The most common questions asked of Senior Life are about life planning; options, costs and decisions. These letters and articles outline some of the considerations. Need more information? Book a consultation for complete information for your situation.

DEMENTIA

  DEMENTIA: DIGNITY and SECONDARY CONCERNS
  DEMENTIA: A FRIEND’S DENIAL and WHY DIAGNOSIS IS IMPORTANT
  WHEN DAYS AND NIGHTS ARE CONFUSED
  DRIVING WITH DEMENTIA
 

LIFE PLANNNING

  DECISIONS and FINANCES
  STAYING HOME
  MOVING
  MEDICAID
     

FAMILY RELATIONSHIPS

  PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE MOM AND GUILT ARTICLE
  CRITICAL MOTHERS AND LAZY SIBLINGS
  PERSONALITY DISORDER AND BAD PARENT VENGEANCE
  CRITICAL BROTHERS AND LONG DISTANCE FAMILIES
  SPLITTING UP PARENT’S VALUABLES
   

DEMENTIA: A FRIEND’S DENIAL and WHY DIAGNOSIS IS IMPORTANT

This month we are discussing dementia, a condition that affects over 5 million Americans. It is believed if everyone were tested the number would be 2-3 times higher.

Dear Jennifer,
I read your page every week and never thought I would be writing in and here I am. My difficulty is with my mother’s best friend (I’ll call her Jane.) Jane calls me pretty routinely and tells me that my mother is a little forgetful and does NOT have dementia. She is angry with me and accuses me of wanting to put my mother away in a home. I tried to explain to her what the doctors have said, but then she talked to my mother about it and Mom got mad that I told Jane her business. How can I get through to Jane? I don’t want to do anything to get her mad so she stops visiting my mother, but I wish she would stop calling.
Thanks for any advice you can give me,
Roberta




Dear Roberta,
First, thank you for being a dedicated visitor to my page, I’m flattered.
About Jane: she’s in denial. She doesn’t want to “lose” her good friend to dementia. And, if she and your mother spend a good deal of their visits reminiscing, this utilizes long term memory which is likely still intact. There is a catch phrase being thrown around: “Join Their Journey.” This is generally used for the person with dementia, but fits for Jane too.
“Join Their Journey” means you are going to enter the other person’s reality rather than making corrections or arguing. Jane believes your mother is fine. She won’t believe otherwise.
Try to stay calm when you talk to her and realize that denial is part of the grieving process. When Jane calls, tell her a doctor diagnosed your mom and you are following his/her advice. Remind Jane that your mother is very private and doesn’t like her private matters shared. Empathize with how hard it is to accept and suggest that Jane attend an Alzheimer’s support group. Thank her for her love towards your mom. If Jane escalates, you will need to respectfully disengage the call: “Jane, you are raising your voice to me and accusing me of wanting my mother in a nursing home. That isn’t true. I don’t think there is anything I can say to change your mind. I am hanging up now, Jane. Click. If she calls again, merely repeat. Don’t get drawn into a dispute and avoid getting agitated with her.
Let me know how it goes.
Warmly,
Jennifer


WHY DIAGNOSIS IS IMPORTANT

1. Accurate statistics are needed when requesting federal funding and in understanding the widespread nature of this disease.
2. There are different types of dementia. In some cases, the medication that works for one may cause difficulty in the other making diagnosis very significant to improvement.
3. I predict that accurate diagnosis will “humanize” the disease.

The combination of these factors will help us fight this disease, educate the public and professionals, and reduce anxiety while increasing attention towards treatments and cure.

PROGRESSIVE DEMENTIAS that are not reversible and worsen over time include:

Alzheimer's disease. Although in most cases the exact cause of Alzheimer's disease isn't known, plaques and tangles are often found in the brains of people with Alzheimer's. Plaques are clumps of a protein called beta-amyloid, and tangles are fibrous tangles made up of tau protein. Genetic factors also may make it more likely that people will develop Alzheimer's.Alzheimer's disease usually progresses slowly over about eight to 10 years. Your cognitive abilities slowly decline.

Vascular dementia. Vascular dementia, the second most common type of dementia, occurs as a result of brain damage due to reduced or blocked blood flow in blood vessels leading to your brain.Symptoms usually start suddenly and often occur in people with high blood pressure or people who have had strokes or heart attacks in the past.

Lewy body dementia. Lewy bodies are abnormal clumps of protein that have been found in the brains of people with Lewy body dementia, Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.Lewy body dementia symptoms are similar to symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. Its unique features include fluctuations between confusion and clear thinking (lucidity), visual hallucinations, and tremor and rigidity (parkinsonism).People with Lewy body dementia often have a condition called rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behavior disorder that involves acting out dreams.

Frontotemporal dementia. This type of dementia tends to occur at a younger age than does Alzheimer's disease, generally between the ages of 50 and 70. This is a group of diseases characterized by the breakdown (degeneration) of nerve cells in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, the areas generally associated with personality, behavior and language.Signs and symptoms of frontotemporal dementia can include inappropriate behaviors, language problems, difficulty with thinking and concentration, and movement problems.



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585.424.2424