Ambassador Series: Questioning the Signs

Ambassador Louis Frey is back with an encore vignette. His stories are so moving that we had to keep the series going. Thanks again, Mr. Frey, for sharing your amazing words.

ItΓÇÖs imperative to know, understand and recognize the early signs of AlzheimerΓÇÖs to prevent or, at least, diminish the hurt feelings that often occur when strange behavior begins.

In the course of human events, when AlzheimerΓÇÖs drifts in like a rain cloud and settles upon a family member, itΓÇÖs not noticed until, like a clap of thunder, rattles through family members with the sudden appearance of strange and unusual behaviors.

These strange happenings are subtle and seem to gradually creep in; nevertheless, they are still baffling. At first, simple questions were repeated only once or twice; and, when answered, it is assumed the responses were accepted and comprehended.

ΓÇ£Where are you going,ΓÇ¥ my wife would ask.

ΓÇ£IΓÇÖm going to the office,ΓÇ¥ I would answer.

Nothing unusual in that little banter over breakfast; nothing to raise an eyebrow at, but the subtle changes are creeping up from behind.

At first, the questions themselves were confusing because my departure and destination was known and consist for the past three decades. Later the questions were repeated as if the first answer was not heard or understood.

Maybe we should have her hearing checked, I thought to myself.

Her hearing was perfect.

The questions would gradually change subject matter.

ΓÇ£Who are you going to see today,ΓÇ¥ my wife asked.

ΓÇ£No one in particular,ΓÇ¥ I answered. ΓÇ£I donΓÇÖt have any appointments today.ΓÇ¥

As the line of questioning became more frequent, I wondered how she could remember the questions but not the answers.

This was a constant conundrum until the diagnosis of AlzheimerΓÇÖs was made.

Understanding these early signs of AlzheimerΓÇÖs is crucial. Undiagnosed patients, like my wife, often blurt out unrecognizable fictional stories, much to the surprise and confusion of spouse and family.

Unbecoming, derogatory and pointed accusatory statements are very hurtful, especially, if no one is aware that a problem exists.

Shortly after a meal one evening she suggested, ΓÇ£Maybe we should split and get a divorce.ΓÇ¥

Wow, I thought, what for? Maybe she has a boyfriend hiding?

Gathering my wits I asked, ΓÇ£What brought this on and where would you go or better still, where would you like to go?ΓÇ¥

ΓÇ£I donΓÇÖt know,ΓÇ¥ she said. ΓÇ£Divorce is complicated, and I want you to change the doors on the kitchen cabinets, and besides you treat me like dirt because IΓÇÖm not pretty anymore.ΓÇ¥

Divorce, kitchen cabinets it was all very disconcerting and confusing.

Actually, she was quite lovely, charming and one of the most competent women I ever knew. I miss her dearly.

Caregivers are advised ΓÇ£donΓÇÖt take it personalΓÇ¥, but when ranting and you look over one shoulder and then the other and youΓÇÖre the only one in the room, itΓÇÖs hard, no matter the advise.

Granted the hurt is reduced somewhat once the diagnosis is known, but then it’s replaced by another.  So goes life..

 

AlzTex Admin

The Alzheimer's Association Houston & Southeast Texas Chapter (www.alz.org/texas) consists of families, caregivers, scientists, health professionals, and concerned citizens who are committed to finding a cure for Alzheimer's Disease and to easing the burden of Alzheimer's Disease and related disorders on patients and their families and loved ones.