Alzheimer’s Disease Also Victimizes Family, Schrock Says
It steals memories, abilities, and personalities before it steals the bodies they are housed in.
It steals time with loved ones, enjoying memories of years past and making new memories to treasure.
“It sneaks up on you so slowly that you don’t notice until it’s really bad,” said Dale Schrock, Archbold.
His wife, Florence, has been victimized by the thief that is Alzheimer’s Disease. She has been a resident of the Fairlawn Haven Alzheimer’s Unit since June 2008.
“My kids noticed it quicker than I did,” Schrock said.
There are at least 11 forms of dementia. Dementia is defined as an impairment or loss of intellectual capacity and personality as a result of disease or injury to a person’s brain.
Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60 to 80 percent of cases.
It is described as a disease that starts as early as 40s or 50s. It begins with impaired memory, and then progresses to damaging thought and speech, eventually leaving a person helpless.
The Mayo Clinic estimates that 5 percent of people ages 65 to 74 have Alzheimer’s, while nearly 50 percent of those over age 85 have it.
“I think part of the reason I didn’t see this in Florence was because it came on as a series of small changes,” Dale said.
“I automatically covered for her. I guess I just took for granted it was part of the aging process. I mean, everyone forgets
things sometimes.” Dale In The Deal
Florence was born in Nebraska and grew up in Pennsylvania.
“When she came out here, she didn’t know anyone but my first cousin, and he introduced us,” said Dale.
“She was making $8 a week plus board in Pennsylvania, but when she came here she made $40 a week. It was a good move for her, and she got me in the deal!”
“When we were younger, she had a sharper mind than I did. She could remember a lot of small details, I think because the little things are more important to women.
"But it got to where she didn’t remember any of the small things.”
“In my opinion, it’s the most devastating thing when the mind starts to go,” Dale said. “Most people aren’t real kind when people don’t know what they’re saying.”
“The caregivers at Fairlawn are wonderful. I can’t say enough about how good they are to the people there. They know just what to do or say when the residents get worked up.
“They even go in and bake so that the unit smells more like home. Sometimes when they do that, they have Florence go in and help. She really enjoys that!
“I can’t go visit her every day because she wants to go home with me. When I do visit, I can’t spend more than a couple of hours there, because she wants to leave with me. I know she can’t, but she doesn’t understand.”
While Florence is living with the disease, Alzheimer’s also is victimizing Dale.
“People ask me how I’m doing, and everyone wants to hear I’m fine,” Dale said. “But why should I lie to them? Sometimes I’m okay, but sometimes I’m not.”
“In that commitment that I made to her that ‘I do and I will until death do us part,’ I sure never thought we’d be parted like this.
“Until you feel that yourself, that your partner is here but she isn’t, you just can’t know the hurt.”
10 warning signs of Alzheimer’s
1. Memory loss that disrupts daily life.
One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is memory loss, especially forgetting recently learned information. Others include forgetting important dates or events; asking for the same infor - mation over and over; relying on memory aides (e.g., reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they
used to handle on their own. What’s typical? Sometimes forgetting
names or appointments, but remembering them later.
2. Challenges in planning or solving problems
Some people may experience changes in their ability to develop and follow a plan or work with numbers. They may have trouble following a familiar recipe or keeping track of monthly bills. They may have difficulty concentrating and take much longer to do
things than they did before. What’s typical? Making occasional
errors when balancing a checkbook.
3. Difficulty completing familiar tasks at home, at work or at
leisure People with Alzheimer’s often find it hard to complete daily tasks. Sometimes, people may have trouble driving to a familiar loca - tion, managing a budget at work or remembering the rules of a
favorite game. What’s typical? Occasionally needing help to use
the settings on a microwave or to record a television show.
4. Confusion with time or place
People with Alzheimer’s can lose track of dates, seasons and the passage of time. They may have trouble understanding something if it is not happening immediately. Sometimes they may forget
where they are or how they got there. What’s typical? Getting con -
fused about the day of the week but figuring it out later.
5. Trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships
For some people, having vision problems is a sign of Alzheimer’s. They may have difficulty reading, judging distance and determin - ing color or contrast. In terms of perception, they may pass a mir - ror and think someone else is in the room. They may not realize they are the person in the mirror. What’s typical? Vision changes related to cataracts.
6. New problems with words in speaking or writing
People with Alzheimer’s may have trouble following or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and have no idea how to continue or they may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, have problems finding the right word or call things by the wrong name (e.g., calling a “watch” a “handclock”).
What’s typical? Sometimes having trouble finding the right
7. Misplacing things and losing the ability to retrace steps
A person with Alzheimer’s disease may put things in unusual places. They may lose things and be unable to go back over their steps to find them again. Sometimes, they may accuse others of stealing. This may occur more frequently over time. What’s typical?
Misplacing things from time to time, such as a pair of glasses or the
8. Decreased or poor judgment
People with Alzheimer’s may experience changes in judgment or decision-making. For example, they may use poor judgment when dealing with money, giving large amounts to telemarketers. They
may pay less attention to grooming or keeping themselves clean.
What’s typical? Making a bad decision once in a while.
9. Withdrawal from work or social activities
A person with Alzheimer’s may start to remove themselves from hobbies, social activities, work projects or sports. They may have trouble keeping up with a favorite sports team or remembering how to complete a favorite hobby. They may also avoid being social
because of the changes they have experienced. What’s typical?
Sometimes feeling weary of work, family and social obligations.
10. Changes in mood and personality
The mood and personalities of people with Alzheimer’s can change. They can become confused, suspicious, depressed, fearful or anx - ious. They may be easily upset at home, at work, with friends or in places where they are out of their comfort zone. What’s typical? Developing very specific ways of doing things and becoming irri - table when a routine is disrupted. Information from the Alzheimer’s Association website, www.alz.org.
The Difference Between Alzheimer’s And Typical Age-Related Changes
Signs of Alzheimer’s Poor judgment and decision making Inability to manage a budget Losing track of the date or the season Difficulty having a conversation Misplacing things and being unable to retrace steps to find them
Typical age-related changes
Making a bad decision
once in a while
Missing a monthly payment
Forgetting which day it is
and remembering later
Sometimes forgetting which
word to use
Losing things from time to time
Information courtesy Alzheimer's Association, www.alz.org