1. jomarie

    jomarie Registered User

    Oct 19, 2007
    2
    Spain
    I registered on TP a couple of weeks ago..and I have been so impressed with the friendliness and support that I have read in everyones messages ...
    So I thought it was time to give you a little of my story..
    I am caring for my Husband... who today has been diagnosed with organic dementia...which I believe is also termed as Vascular Dementia??I'm sure someone will correct me here?
    It has shown on the MR scan that he has sufferd many brain strokes which has lead to the result..
    The symptoms began a couple of years ago...but have progressed extremley fast over the last year...I and many who knew us thought it was Alzheimers Desease and I am wondering if anyone out there can tell me the difference between the two, as most of the symptoms are very similar..
    Athough I knew and expected the results, I have felt so very sad and upset since our visit to the Dr. it almost feels as if I have been hit between the eyes.
    We moved to Spain 3 years ago, to retire in a nice little apartment on the costa blanca...so it is doubly sad that this terrible desease has hit my dear husband..we have no family living here in spain, although I do have many friends here.
    I now have to decide what the next steps will be.. e.g do I move back to the UK or stay here in spain, I also need to find out if there is any treatment to help my husband either here or if I were to move back to the UK..
    I would really appreciate any info and I thank you all so much for reading my message
     
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,567
    Kent
    Hello Jomarie, welcome to TP.

    I`m so sorry about your husband`s diagnosis. Just when we think we can relax and have an enjoyable retirement after years of working, it hits you. It is so cruel.

    There are several factsheets on vascular dementia and Alzheimer`s.

    http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/Facts_about_dementia/What_is_dementia/info_vascular.htm

    http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/Facts_about_dementia/What_is_dementia/info_alz.htm

    These are links to two. If you click on the i in the top left hand corner of the Forum page, it will take you to the factsheets.

    We do have one member who left Spain to return to the UK when her husband developed Alzheimer`s. Perhaps when she sees your post she will reply to you.

    Take care xx
     
  3. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Hi Jomarie, welcome to TP.

    First of all, you can get lots of information by clicking the factsheets icon at the top left of the page. This one is about vascular dementia:

    http://www.alzheimers.org.uk/Facts_about_dementia/What_is_dementia/info_vascular.htm

    I'm afraid I've no idea what kind of health care is available in Spain. If you are happy that you will get the care you need, and that there are hospitals and nursing homes where your husband can get treatment, you might be better to stay there, where you have friends. You are going to need a lot of support in the years to come.

    You can find out more about services on this website:

    http://www.alzheimer-europe.org/?lm3=9FDA10686F48

    As far as I know, the medication for Alzheimer's is not normally prescribed for VD, but you may need other forms of medication as the disease progresses.

    It's all very new for you, as your husband has only been diagnosed today. Please, just ask if you have any specific questions, there's usually someone here to answer.

    Best wishes,
     
  4. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    3,725
    North Derbyshire
    Dear Jomarie,

    My aunt had vascular dementia, my mum has alzheimers (no evidence of VD at all), but as far as approaching the illness is concerned, the two seem very similar. The symptoms are similar, the prognosis is equally uncertain. Drug treatment may be different, and may or may not prove effective. Mum was prescribed Aricept, but it had no effect, whilst other people have reported some quite pronounced benefits on the same drug.

    I have no idea of the comparison between treatment in Spain compared to the UK.

    I do understand you being hit between the eyes, it was the same with my mum. It seems that one week she was just a bit forgetful and saying strange things, and the next week hospitalised cos she was found wandering the streets at night.

    We are still trying to come to terms with it, and I can't imagine how much worse it is when it happens to a partner.

    It is my opinion (and this is limited to the experience of my aunt and my mum, so please take more notice of people on this site with wider experience than me), that the main problem is caring for the person, whatever the diagnosis. My GP said to me, when my mum became incapable of looking after herself "We are now looking at management rather than treatment". And I agree with that now.

    So what you have to ask yourself is would you have better support from family back in England that you might have from friends in Spain? A lot of middle-aged people from the UK have relocated to places like Spain in retirement, and they are all likely to face similar problems themselves in the future, so you might actually find that people from the community there are willing to help you out with an afternoon looking after your husband while you go shopping, in the hope that you will do the same for them if they ever need it. If you have a wide circle of friends out there, it might be easier to call on four people once a month for some help than it would be to call on a sister in the UK every week.

    Also, if you have a good social life in Spain, although this might be somewhat curtailed, compare it with the social life you might have back in the UK.

    Plus, presumably, lots of your friends in Spain are of a similar age, so appreciate your dillemma. Coming back to the UK, you might find that nephews and nieces are not yet old enough to appreciate the problems.

    But you also have to consider yourself, and the life YOU need to lead while your husband is ill. If you imagine sitting by him day and night, then it doesn't really matter where you live. But if you feel you would benefit from a night off now and again to spend with other adults - would that be easier in Spain, or in the UK?

    I can't advise, I have never had any desire to move abroad, but equally I have virtually no family here in the UK anyway - so everything is down to me.

    In summary, I would say (and as I said, no experience, so please feel free to ignore), I wouldn't come rushing back to the UK expecting some wonderful support structure for you and your husband unless you think it would be there for you. Sometimes friends are more willing than relatives to help out (no commitment expected). Care Homes over here are over-stretched and full. Places are often unavailable for weeks or months. Costs are high (no idea what benefits you would be entitled to - suss that out first).

    On the other hand, looking to the worst scenario, you might want to think where you would want to be living if you were left on your own. Spain or UK? Of course, a person with VD or alzheimers could live a very long life, so perhaps my question is spurious. But I would ask it anyway.

    Apologies if I sound a bit brusque, there are lots of people on this site who will send you hugs and kisses, I got the impression you wanted some practical advice, so that is me! But hugs and kisses anyway, cos believe me you need it with this illness.

    I hope you are able to make an informed choice. You will never know if you have made the right choice, only that you made the best with the information you had available.

    Good luck.

    Luv

    Margaret
     
  5. TinaT

    TinaT Registered User

    Sep 27, 2006
    7,095
    Bolton
    Spanish help

    Hi,

    My husband also was diagnosed whilst we were living in Spain. We had lived and worked there for 18 years - also on the Costa Blanca. You may have already come across the language barrier, or you may be fluent in Spanish, I don't know. I was lucky in that I could speak and understand Spanish reasonably well but I still found it hard to understand absolutely everything. Because I worked and paid taxes both my husband and I were fully integrated into the Spanish National Health system.

    Our first port of call was the family doctor, who gave my husband a memory test. I had to translate the questions and the answers. He was then referred to the local hospital to a psychiatrist who also only spoke Spanish. She was very kind, put him onto EXelon medication and a sedative. A few weeks later we had to go for a very intensive test of his cognitive abilities. This time the young lady could speak some English so between us both we managed to get all of the test done reasonably well.

    The Exelon drug was very expensive, so each time I got a prescription, I had to take it to the Commisariat to be stamped. This process involved two visits to a nearby town, one to drop off the prescription and then a few days later return and queue up for the stamped prescription. I then took it to a chemist (who didn't always have the drug in stock). I had to pay 80 euros and the state paid 80 euros for the medication. I could have got my husband into a day care centre which was run by the local nuns but I would have had to pay (can't remember how much). As my husband didn't speak much Spanish this was obviously a no no for him. He was confused enough without this language burden.

    Now you are very fortunate that you are on the Costa Blanca as there is an English organisation called HELP. HELP is run by the English for the English. I have to say largely run by elderly English people! They can offer some support to you in the form of having someone come and sit with your husband for short periods whilst you shop etc. But as it is a voluntary organisation it very much depends what individual members in your area are prepared to offer. They can also supply you with interpreters for hospital appointments but this will incur a charge, again the fee varies from area to area. If you are near Torreveja or Denia both these towns have very good branches of HELP. Their contact details can be found in the Costa Blanca Newspaper which is for English ex pats. They also organise many social and fundraising events. They are a friendly, helpful bunch and will certainly befriend you.

    Hope this is of some help for you. I chose to come back to England and I have to say I haven't regretted it for a minute. I have much more help here in the UK than I could have ever hoped for in Spain. I don't have many relatives here in England but the local authority has been a godsend in offering support and help. Also I am back in my own culture and language which gives me peace of mind.

    The Spanish Social Services are catching up but are not yet at the level of England. There is still the culture that the women of the family take care of their own elderly dementa relatives within the family. There are stresses and strains on Spanish families which are now showing quite strongly. Spain now has many many working women. I read in a Spanish newspaper a few years ago that an elderly man suffering from dementia had been left abandoned at a service station on the motorway! That speaks wonders for the amount of help you are likely to receive at this moment from the Social Services in Spain. I wish you luck with whatever decision you make. Plese private message me if you want. I will give you all the support and any more specific information if I can xxx Tina
     
  6. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Hi Tina, just wanted to congratulate you on a very helpful post. Lots of useful information for jomarie.

    Love,
     
  7. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
    3,518
    In short Vascular Dementia and Alzheimer's Disease are both progressive diseases that damage the brain. Some of the mechanisms of Alzheimer's Disease are known, but the underlying cause is not. However, Vascular Dementia is caused by a series of strokes ; these can be very "minor" in that they tend not to cause other symptoms. The damage caused in cumulative and irreversible, so unfortunately the symptoms get progressively worse with each stroke. I believe that treatment consists of trying to prevent further strokes. The main difference is that Alzheimer's generally causes a long, relatively slow decline whilst Vascular is marked by periods of stability with sudden declines. But the diseases affect different individuals in different ways.

    Here in England, Arciept and other drugs in it's class are only licensed for Alzheimer's Disease (and only if you meet certain criteria).

    Sadly, as has been said, really things focus on "management" of the disease because there is no effective "treatment" as such. "Management" can include treating some of the symptoms, for example, agression, hallucinations, paranoia may be treated on a symptomatic basis even though the underlying cause cannot itself be treated.
     
  8. jomarie

    jomarie Registered User

    Oct 19, 2007
    2
    Spain
    #8 jomarie, Nov 3, 2007
    Last edited: Nov 3, 2007
    Hello Everyone

    Thank you all so much for your kind thoughts...and especially to Margaret and Tina for so much detailed information....from one message I have received so much ... and I will now have to do some serious thinking before making any decisions...
    We are both in the spanish health system... but I have waited so long to see the neurologist...we first saw her in May...took all the tests she requested and then had our appointment to see her for diagnosis cancelled...the reason being lack of Drs...
    So I took the matter into my own hands and went to a private Norwegian practitioner ( on reccomendation) who has been brilliant... hence my diagnosis yesterday...and his words echoed all that Margaret and Tina said in that My husband is well cared for etc...and that I, being the carer is his main concern...Hence I have to see him on my own on Monday for his advice and help in going forward...
    Listening to various sources I almost feel that there is not much difference between the countries healthcarewise..language of course being the biggest barrier...I have limited knowledge...but I do have a very good friend who is also an interpreter.
    I also feel very lucky in that when we arrived here 3 years ago I helped to organise a club, the only criteria being that it would be english speaking.. we started with 10 of us and now have a membership of 500 english, spanish, norwegian and dutch members...so I am blessed with quite a few friends who I think will be a great strength to us both..and it does give me a little something outside the home..
    In England we have 7 children and 10 grandchildren..however only three of those children are concerned about us... I feel that young people find it very hard to accept mental illness..and choose to bury thier heads..I certainly dont blame them for this... but I feel sad for my husband..
    So I do think at this moment in time that I may see what spain can offer in the way of care and support before making hasty decisions...I have had dealings with HELP..and they are a wonderful organisation... but I dont know how we will cope about nursing homes etc...and yes Tina the spanish families do still tend to look after thier own... but I think there is some advancement now in care homes...we will see..
    Thankyou again so much...I hope I can keep in touch with you all
    Love and (((hugs))) xx jomarie
     

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