J: E and I get lots of questions about how are parents are doing. If you've been reading this blog, you know that we give the standard "the disease only goes in one direction" answer. Often times the people asking the question are asking because their parent, or spouse, or friend has started to display some symptoms of dementia. They will share their stories of what their parent/spouse/friend has done that has caused them the concern about the possibility of dementia. E and I just sort of nod along as they tell their stories and then wait for them to ask "do you think they have AD?" Unfortunately, the answer is probably yes.
If you are worried about a loved one because you have seen signs that they are not functioning as they should, then you should take steps to have that loved one evaluated. Unless there is an underlying medical condition (a urinary tract infection, for example, can cause dementia like symptoms) there is probably reason for concern. Don't try to explain away the behavior. Take the proverbial bull by the horns and tackle the issue head on. The fear of the unknown is ALWAYS worse than having the facts so you can come up with a game plan. A diagnosis of AD (or dementia- not sure why people insist on differentiating. It's like saying he broke his arm vs he fractured his arm) is not a death sentence. Sure, life has changed, but it has not ended. Work with your family to come up with a plan of care that everyone is ok with. Getting out in front of this helps you and the other caregivers feel like you have a modicum of control over the situation. It is not easy, but it is easier than trying to come up with the plan after mom has set the stove on fire or dad has rear ended a car full of kids. Be proactive. Harrummphh!