My wife Cheryl was diagnosed with Early Onset AlzheimerΓÇÖs Disease in February 2009.┬á Her disease was judged to be in the ΓÇ£mild stageΓÇ¥.┬á She was only 57 years old at the time.┬á I recall walking out of Baylor College of Medicine in shock, not really knowing what to expect, or when to expect it.┬á I knew so little about the terrible disease that had attacked my wife.
Our lives changed that day.┬á Since then I have watched Cheryl disease progress at an ever-increasing pace.┬á ┬áI have been told this is not uncommon to have rapid progression with Early Onset AlzheimerΓÇÖs.┬á At the time of her diagnosis she was able to handle day-to-day activities in a pretty normal fashion.┬á She would forget a few words, or leave cabinet doors open, but was functioning on her own.┬á In less than four years I watched her slip away until this June when she was assessed at a Severe/Profound stage, I was forced to begin looking for a place where Cheryl would be safe and cared for.┬á ┬á┬áIn August we moved her into a Memory Care Unit.
I have had a great number of ΓÇ£Lessons Learned along the way. ┬áSo many so, that I donΓÇÖt believe I can effectively express all of them in one blog. ┬áTherefore I will write a number of blogs describing my journey through the stages of AlzheimerΓÇÖs
In future blogs will touch on the following:
- What is this disease?┬á Learn as much as you can.
- Where do I go next?┬á What resources are out there?
- How do I let family and friends know what is happening?
- Asking for help, and not being afraid to accept it.
- Are all of your documents in order?
- When is it time to take away the car keys, and how do you do it?
- When should I take her to ΓÇ£The GatheringΓÇ¥ or other AD activity?
- How do I deal with her aggression and keep a sense of humor?
- Alzheimer proofing the house.
- When is it time to use in home caregivers?
- How do I find and evaluate caregivers?
- When is it time to move her to a Memory Care Unit?
- What questions do I ask in evaluating a Memory Care Unit?
- WhatΓÇÖs next?┬á Getting on with my life
This is not intended to be a ΓÇ£how toΓÇ¥ but merely my story and lessons learned along the way.┬á If it helps others move through the stages, it will be a success.
-Written by Don Baird as part of our “Lessons Learned” blog series. Be on the lookout for more wisdom and lessons learned from Don in the coming weeks and months.