Question about tests

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Les, Jul 22, 2004.

  1. Les

    Les Registered User

    Jun 23, 2004
    40
    Hampshire
    My Dad has just been for his first meeting with the alzheimers' specialist, having just been diagnosed a couple of months ago, and he was given the test I have heard mentioned on this forum. He scored 20, which scared me a little, because I was expecting him to score higher. What does this mean? Is this very low?
    Thanks folks.
    Lesley
     
  2. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    Hi Lesley,

    Has your Dad been diagnosed, or is the test a confirmatory part of the diagnosis?

    If your Dad has already been diagnosed, then you would expect that to show up in a low-ish score.

    The score is just an indication, based on a selection of questions. You will know from your own observations of his condition just how he has been affected over time.

    From my own viewpoint, I'd say that your interactions with your Dad will tell you how he is, and how, in the future he may lose faculties. You don't need the score for that, but the test will provide a measure for the doctors that is more objective.

    Usual advice applies - live for each day, take things slowly.

    The score is at the better end of low at present.

    Best wishes
     
  3. Les

    Les Registered User

    Jun 23, 2004
    40
    Hampshire
    Thanks Nada.
    Bruce - I actually don't know how far down the diagnosis route we are with dad. We were told a couple of months ago that he has 'a degenerative brain disease like Alzheimers'. Then yesterday the specialist said it wasn't vascular dementia, that it was definitely something 'like' alzheimers. But he is still to have the brain scan - I think it's a SPECT scan. He has already had many other brain scans as he is an epileptic.
    I guess I'm just trying to gather all the information i can - sometimes it seems to help me cope, but other times it makes me worry - like in the case of the MMSE test as I had hoped for a higher score.
    I just spent four days with Dad (I live in London and he and Mum live in the north of scotland) and sometimes I'm amazed at how well he's coping. Then other times he'll get incredibly confused and I'll begin to panic. the main problem at the moment seems to be getting upset, confusion over how to do things (like getting dressed etc) and his terrible motor functions. He can barely use cutlery (we cut everything up for him and he scoops it in), he staggers everywhere and gets incredibly worn out.

    I hate to see him like this (he's only 68), but then sometimes I can see the old Dad re-emerging. This weekend my husband made Dad laugh. (it was actually about the toilet) and the more my husband said the more dad laughed, until he was giggling uncontrollably and in pain! For the rest of the day all my husband had to do was to say 'poo!' for Dad to start crying with laughter again. We enjoyed ourselves!!!
     
  4. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    Hi Lesley

    you are doing just the right thing in collecting information.

    Don't forget that sometimes the dementia is better than 'normal', other times it is worse. There's a cyclic element so, when you think that things have become permanently worse - the next day the person is a little less 'bad'. The little joys are those days when suddenly the fog clears a little and we get a glimpse of the person as they were. Treat those times as precious and enjoy them as much as you can because the fog will come back.

    It is good you have discovered the ability to enjoy your time with your Dad.

    The other day as I arrived at the door of the home where my wife lives, a relative of another resident was leaving and she said "I always leave here depressed".

    Well I don't. I may be terribly sad to be having to leave Jan there, but I leave with huge respect for ALL the residents. I rarely have a day go by without having a laugh with one or another of them. I am amazed at their resilience in coping with their problems. Despite the illness they all have, bizarrely there's a sort of hope about the place. Maybe that's because everyone is doing everything they can to make the residents comfortable and as well as they can be. I can't figure why it is not a real downer going there, but somehow it isn't. Maybe it is a state of mind.
     
  5. Les

    Les Registered User

    Jun 23, 2004
    40
    Hampshire
    Thank you Bruce,
    It is an immense help to be able to talk to people who understand what i am feeling and what my parents are feeling - this is all still so new and raw.
    You're absolutely right. It's so important to understand and appreciate all the amazing efforts being made by both the sufferer and the caregiver. My Mum is the caregiver in our case and she is doing astonishingly well, I have so much respect for her. She is making sure that Dad enjoys himself as much as possible and as a result it is an incredibly positive atmosphere in their house. There is a lot to be thankful for and happy about.
    Thank you for your kind replies.
    Lesley
     
  6. Jude

    Jude Registered User

    Dear Lesley,

    I don't know which test it was, but I suspect they are all fairly similar. My parents also took a test, which was a score of 10 points. My father got 9 right and my mother 2.

    A couple of days later I asked my parents the same questions and my father scored 6 and my mother 5. It just seems to depend upon whether they are having a good day or a bad one. I think my father would score well in front of a stranger because he would feel under pressure to get a good score and my mother would be intimidated and score lower. So I wouldn't worry if the score was lower than you expected. All I can work out from this is that they should get 10 answers correct if they were well.

    Best wishes, Jude
     
  7. Suzy R

    Suzy R Registered User

    Jul 4, 2004
    40
    Switzerland
    Sounds familiar.

    I can remember when (not too long ago) my Dad would have been the one in doubt and my mother would have seemed fairly sharp. Now it's the other way round (Mum diagnosed with AD or similar) and Dad the care giver forced to sharpen his wit and not result to a shot of whisky quite so much.

    My point is really that people change from day to day and also from the morning to the afternoon, before or after meals or exercise etc. etc. and if you don't see a person on a regular basis you're only getting a snapshot of the situation - I don't think my mother always recognises me when she sees me, but ironically I can still get through to her if we speak on the phone.
     
  8. Jude

    Jude Registered User

    Dear Suzy,

    One of the hardest things to cope with in the beginning was the fact that my parents mostly didn't have a clue who I was. It hurt so much until I realised that it was just the AD talking. I've got used to that now and can laugh about it, although it makes me feel sad sometimes.

    Yesterday we had relatives visiting and I made everyone afternoon tea. I heard my father tell my cousin that 'the staff do a very good job with the cooking'. That raised a huge laugh!

    It's also absolutely wonderful when, quite out of the blue, my parents will ask me something and say, 'What are we doing today, JUDITH?' It gives me a real buzz to know that they are still 'in there' wherever that may be.

    I also felt early on that having two parents with AD was incredibly unfortunate. It's actually been a bonus for them in a very odd way, because they seem to monitor each other. So when one is having a 'bad' day remembering things, the other one helps get them back on track, without all the anguish of realising that they are not really 'with it'.

    It surely must be a terrible anxiety to see your wife/husband suffering from AD and not being able to really reach them. Also it's really sad for us, as children. My parents have been married for almost 63 years and have done everything together during their lives. It's almost as if they've made a pact to go down together too. That sounds a bit silly, but I hope you understand what I mean.

    Best wishes, Jude
     

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