As baby boomers caring for elderly parents, Alzheimer's Disease and dementia symptoms are concerns that are at the top of many of our lists. We may not be dealing with that right now, but there's always a big question mark in the back of our minds. Will it come? Is my elderly parent's forgetfulness normal? Should our elderly parents be reacting that way? For that matter, I know from reading that many of my compadres who are starting to realize that they are in the aging baby boomers generation are asking some of those questions about themselves.
I was reading an interesting article today that reminded me of a great idea I read and thought you might find it useful as well. In 6 Symptoms of Dementia, Wendy Dawn wrote that, for caregivers, "It is helpful to keep a journal of symptoms to share with the patient's physician. This will help the physician understand the progression of the disease and its manifestations." Excellent advice! I try to do that with all the different things my senior mom and/or I experience. And this is a particularly important area!
Not only that, though. Journaling can also help all of us Sandwich Generation elder caregivers decide if we need to get help for our elderly parents due to dementia symptoms or if things are probably ok. The Alzheimer's Association has a wonderful checklist of 10 things to watch for, 10 Signs of Alzheimer's Disease. One way to keep track would be to copy this list and then check it every few months. Read each item, then type or handwrite our current observations of our senior parent along with the date. Quite often, you'll realize with relief that they are doing ok. By dating them, you can then observe whether or not they have really gotten dramatically worse or if it is just your anxiety making it seem so.
You can also find a wonderful and detailed list of the Stages of Alzheimer's Disease and how various dementia symptoms may or may not fit in with each stage. This is another excellent resource to assist you in journaling and recording any and all changes you may, or may not, be seeing and helping you to put them into the proper perspective.
As caregivers for seniors, it's easy to get worried and think that things are worse than they really are. It's also easy to think, "oh no, it's just my imagination." These two lists are a big help for the Sandwich Generation, enabling us to really focus on what's going on, see if there is anything concrete to discuss with our elderly parent's healthcare providers, and help us make a reasoned and well-thought-out decision either way. And if you ever do need to see a doctor about concerns for your elderly parent, having this type of detailed journal should be an excellent resource for your elderly parent's doctor as well.
Not only that, but all my friends who are worried they are aging too fast for the baby boomers generation can check themselves out on this list as well. And hopefully, they will put their concerns to rest as they realize that they, along with the rest of the world, are primarily suffering from too much to do and too little time, so yes they forget ocasionally. But so do the 20-somethings who frequently help me at the doctors and the stores. I have to confess, everytime a 20-something forgets something, it makes me feel a bit better over the times I forget things 🙂 Seems silly, probably, but I'll take those words of encouragement any time! How about you? 🙂