Causes of Alzheimers/Vascular Dementia?

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Grannie G, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    There is so much speculation regarding possible causes of Alzheimers/Dementia, [A/D] it`s as if we need something to blame.
    I have 3 experiences of A/D and I`d like to share them with you, if I may.

    My mother was a sharp business woman, who kept immaculate books and was even complimented by the V.A.T. Inspector on the presentation of her account books. She was also a keen card player.
    She was prescribed Thyroxin without my knowledge, but as her memory was going, forgot to take it.
    When I moved house and lived nearer to her, I became concerned about her condition and consulted her GP. I then learnt about the Thyroxin, and the GP was suitably embarrassed to realize that her last presription had been 12 months earlier.
    As I became more involves in her care, we consulted a Neurologist, who diagnosed her `loss of insight`. As his own mother had suffered Alzheimers, he advised us against searching for a specific label, as the tests were so distressing.
    When she died, 9 years later, Global Dementia was recorded as Cause of Death.

    My neighbour was an ex-Guardsman. He was very independent and cared for himself, when he was widowed at the age of 85. He had Vascular problems, but it wasn`t until his confusion put him at risk, that he allowed me to help him and involve Social Services.
    His condition deteriorated, mentally and physically. He had a toe amputated and eventually, it was thought necessary to amputate his foot. While he was waiting for surgery, he died.

    My husband is Diabetic and possibly has Alzheimers, which was diagnosed last year.
    It is probable, his circulation has been affected by the Diabetes. He has tried 2 major Alzheimer drugs but both caused dramatic and very upsetting side effects,namely hallucinations, voices and disturbed sleep. He is now on his 3rd anti-depressant [the other 2 also caused bad side effects] This new anti-depressant seems to agree with him and believe it or not, his memory and confused state have improved significantly. I have wondered for a while, whether or not his depressed state affected his condition and now I really do believe it does.
    However, whatever we call it, A/D is challenging both of us. The husband who managed all our finances, now hands me the unopened Post. When the phone rings, he picks up the hand-set and hands it to me. His blood sugar is raised because he forgets what he`s eaten. He shouts at me and accuses me of taking over his life, of being bossy and calling the shots, while he thinks nothing of waking me at all hours to ask the most mundane questions.

    Finally, can I tell you about my Grandmother. She Died in 1983, aged 92.
    She never went out to work, she smoked, she ate few fruits and vegetables, she didn`t have a washing machine or a fridge but walked to the shops every day for fresh food, and carried it back home. She did all her own housework, including hand washing everything.
    She didn`t have A/D, but she did get a bit mixed up at times.

    So who knows the causes of A/D. It appears to hit people from all walks of life. There is little we can do to protect ourselves.

    I have been comforted by reading all the messages on Talking Point and have only just learnt to respond. I hope I haven`t written too much, but for those who can be bothered to read it, you will know where I`m coming from.

    Talking Point. What a Blessing.
  2. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Hiya Grannie G and welcome to TP. I read right to the end! Thank you for your insight. Pleasd that you have found TP a support, and even more pleased that you can now join in. Looking forward to getting to know you better.
  3. mel

    mel Registered User

    Apr 30, 2006
    Hi grannie G
    I also read your thread right to the end...
    my mum was a book keeper from leaving school and in later yesrs she too was praised by the VAT people! She took strict control of the family finances and was marvellous with numbers.
    She also has diabetes which she has suffered from for the last twenty years or so...She was always a faddy eater and ate very little in the way of fruit and veg...still doesn't now...
    shortly after my dad died 16 months ago I took mum for her regular diabetic appointment ...the sugar was high but I apologised because i wasn't getting into the habit of giving her her medication....The nurse told mum that she must be responsible for taking her own medication:eek:
    I nearly choked!!!!
    Needless to say since that appointment we made sure we got into the habit of giving her the medication and her readings have been good since.....If it was left to mum she either wouldn't take any or take the whole lot at once!!! What I did find a bit scary was the nurse knew the score!
  4. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Thanks Mel

    Thanks for responding so quickly.
    When I have to take my husband for an appointment, I either write or phone the medics, to update them on his condition. This way, they know the stage of his deterioration without my having to talk about him while he`s there.
    Never mind having to keep our wits about us as Carers, we also have to be on the ball with the Medics. I must say, my husband has had exceptional medical care from everyone he`s seen and I`m really grateful.
    Take care of yourself.
    Grannie G
  5. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006

    Thanks for your response. Not sure who wrote so am including you both, to be sure. Hope I`ll get the hang of it soon.

    Being a carer is so isolating. Well meaning people advise joining groups or getting out, for respite. They really don`t understand that whatever we do, we have to come home to the same, often returning to more distress than we left. The thoughts of that, coupled with the guilt, makes it more trouble than it`s worth.

    We have been married for 43 years. My husband is a very private person and wary of strangers. I know him well enough to understand [at this stage] when to intervene and when to leave him alone. I allowed a Community Nurse to visit and warned her beforehand of my husband`s personality. She was over-familiar, patronizing and intrusive and when she left, my husband said `Don`t ask HER to come again. she treated me like a bloody geriatric.`
    Poor woman. I`m sure she meant well, she just didn`t have the skills.

    So it`s brilliant to know I can `off load` to those who know, and I hope it will be a 2-way process.

    Regards Grannie G
  6. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    NW England
    Hi Grannie G, such is our culture these days????

    I thought your post was fascinating.... tough, tough day today which prompted me to post and then mooch around here - another sleepless night - finding some kind of solace from those who care too..... and care enough to share... look forward to hearing more from you,

    Love your anecdote about the CN's visit and your husband's and your reaction to her! So hard to find/keep some good humour at times - Well done!!!!!:)

    With love and thanks, Karen (TF)
  7. May

    May Registered User

    Oct 15, 2005
    Hi Grannie G
    Such a mixed bunch we are on TP, but as you say it's a blessing. :) So pleased you have found out how to post and thank you for sharing your experiences. There appears to be no rhyme or reason in the effects of dementia most of the time...(well, all of the time then....:( )but it makes life so much easier sharing your thoughts with people who KNOW what you're talking about..because on TP you can guarantee that someone, somewhere will have experienced before what you are going through now. Take care
  8. mel

    mel Registered User

    Apr 30, 2006
    "So it`s brilliant to know I can `off load` to those who know, and I hope it will be a 2-way process."

    Yes Grannie G it's a great place to off load and it certainly is a two way thing....I've got so much strength from here......the downside is I never seem to get an early night any more....I think I'm addicted...
    My name is Wendy....and I'm a TPaholic:)
  9. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Latest Breakthrough.

    I was very interested in an article in the Daily Express 30/10/06 about the latest breakthrough in plotting the progress of Alzheimers, for the first time.

    It seems that powerful new scanning technology can show how the disease develops and overwhelms healthy brain cells.

    It is hoped this development will eventually lead to a cure. Too late for us, perhaps, but encouraging for the future.

    What really hit home for me was reference to the ability to see the protein Amyloid, causing the destruction of `the key areas of the brain responsible for memory and movement`. It put my husband`s symptoms in a nutshell. Memory and movement are the key difficulties in his life and this has confirmed the diagnosis.
  10. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006

    I think theres actually a great difference between the causes / effects of AD versus Vascular Dementia

    It seems that AD comes on rather slowly and insidiously and i suspect its inherited predisposition triggered by environmental toxins of some form

    However VD is the result of strokes or small clots and seems to be much more connected with high blood pressure and the effects of aging

    Certainly My Mother who has VD and small vessel disease has had high blood pressure for 30 years and was also a very volatile personality

    She used to be meticulous with finances but oh what a mess has resulted over the last 5 years

    I can go back and piece together the early TIAs /min strokes virtually one a year till this year when they have come thick and fast

    She is now 90 and has other health problems of severe Osteoporosis , Arthritis , cataracts, hearing loss

    To my mind its the Cox 2 Inhibitors she was prescribed in 2005 which have been biggest contributor to her VD
  11. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Helena, I understand what you say about the differences between AD and VD.

    My mother had VD. She too had a series of mini strokes and like your mother went from being a really efficient manager of all her finances to leaving me the biggest mess imaginable to sort out.

    My mother lost a lot of language, early on, whereas my husband still has all his language. His biggest problem areas are loss of his short term memory and loss of flexibility in his movement. He is at the stage now, when he is continually frightened of falling, struggles getting up from the chair or out of bed, has problems bending down and has lost the instinct to step aside when someone wants to pass him.

    It seems we are all looking for answers. They help us understand the different conditions and I think they help us understand the sufferers, so we can help them a little bit more.
  12. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    What I find strange is earlier in the year my Mother had lost the words for many things especially flowers which she even knew the latin names for before

    Often she had totally silent phases and would swing from talking normally one minute to gibberish the next to vacant staring out the window or a blank "all gone" expression the next

    Now after this latest fall and pneumonia she does not stop talking although we cant understand much of it , she is now incontinent and has developed some strange phobias /paranoia

    Her hearing is shot to pieces and she is dreadfully confused and says she cant hear what you are saying
    yet on odd ocasions if someone with the right timbre of voice speaks to her you get a perfectly coherent and thought out answer
    Strange is not the word
  13. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    Helena, It`s so difficult to know just how much is understood when the speech is double dutch and the facial expression is blank.

    For years I visited my mother in the nursing home, and she looked at me with a blank unrecognizing stare, and mumbled and muttered indecipherable language.

    The Social Worker visited her and asked her name. Quick as a flash, and as clear as a bell, she replied. I couldn`t believe my ears.

    How on earth are we expected to know? When I spoke to her, there was never any response.
  14. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    I think that it is best to assume that the 'sufferer' understands what is said to them - that is why I hate it when people talk over my mum. I once heard the problem of communication compared to playing the violin. The jumbled speech is like a tune being played technically perfectly on a violin that is dreadfully out of tune - made sense to me.
    Love Helen
  15. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    That is such a fabulous comparison!

    Thanks. For me, these visualisations of the situation are really helpful.

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