If you have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, one of the many difficult decisions you will face is when to hang up your car keys. Driving is such a routine freedom and pleasure that for most people it is quite painful to think about losing that independence. But the disease impacts the concentration and quick reactions that safe driving requires, so needing to stop is inevitable. The question of driving – whether to continue and if so, for how long – needs to be evaluated as part of your ongoing health planning.
You’re likely to have conflicted thoughts about giving up driving, so acknowledge and share your feelings about it. Talk with your caregiver about how the driving decision should be made, balancing your desire for continued independence with the need for everyone’s safety. In the early stages of the disease, you may be able to simply transition your driving to be more limited, perhaps only driving familiar, short drives during the daytime. You could use a GPS tracking device to reduce a caregiver’s concerns. Continue reading “Hanging up the Keys” »
After two days of inspiration and education, advocates headed to Capitol Hill to meet with their respective legislators and ask for their continued support in the fight against Alzheimer’s. Here’s how the meetings went for a few of the Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter advocates:
Over 900 Alzheimer’s advocates have gathered in Washington, D.C. for the 25th Annual Alzheimer’s Association Advocacy Forum. We have asked attendees from the Northern California and Northern Nevada Chapter to share their insights from the sessions they have attended. Here is what they had to say on Day 1:
El viaje del El Salvador a San Francisco es largo, bastante tiempo para pensar. Cuando tomamos la decisión de traernos a mamá y papá a vivir con nosotros no entendíamos cuanto iba a cambiar nuestras vidas. Tampoco teníamos la realidad del impacto que iba tener esta decisión en nuestras familias. Que ingenuas herramos.
Por adelante teníamos muchas decisiones que discutir. ¿Cómo íbamos a encontrar a alguien que los podía cuidar cuando nosotras estábamos trabajando? ¿Cuál es el proceso para emplear a una cuidandera? ¿Con quién iban a vivir; en la casa de Silvia o la de Linda? Lo único que si sabíamos erra que los teníamos que cuidar. Ellos nos cuidaron cuando erramos pequeñas y ahora erra el tiempo de estar allí para ellos. Siguiendo la costumbre Latina de cuidar nuestros ancianos. Continue reading “Dos Voces, Un Destino: Un viaje largo” »
Also called the acute confusional state, delirium is a medical condition that results in confusion and other disruptions in thinking and behavior, including changes in perception, attention, mood and activity level. Individuals living with dementia are highly susceptible to delirium. Unfortunately, it can easily go unrecognized even by healthcare professionals because many symptoms are shared by delirium and dementia. Sudden changes in behavior, such as increased agitation or confusion in the late evening, may be labeled as “sundowning” and dismissed as the unfortunate natural progression of one’s dementia.
When is a change in behavior delirium and not part of dementia?
In dementia, changes in memory and intellect are slowly evident over months or years. Delirium is a more abrupt confusion, emerging over days or weeks, and represents a sudden change from the person’s previous course of dementia. Unlike the subtle decline of Alzheimer’s disease, the confusion of delirium fluctuates over the day, at times dramatically. Thinking becomes more disorganized, and maintaining a coherent conversation may not be possible. Alertness may vary from a “hyperalert” or easily startled state to drowsiness and lethargy. The hallmark separating delirium from underlying dementia is inattention. The individual simply cannot focus on one idea or task. Continue reading “Delirium or Dementia – Do you know the difference?” »
John has become very fearful of riding in the car. Part of the problem is that somehow he believes that he is driving the car. Granted he’s seated in the front looking out through the windshield, but as I have pointed out to him over and over he is in the passenger seat.
Nonetheless, it doesn’t stop him from believing that he can control the car with his feet or by bunching up his pant leg and twisting it in the direction he wants the car to turn.
John trying to steer the car using his pant leg.
Sounds funny as I write this, but it is by turns terrifying, sad, frustrating and infuriating. This behavior began last September. I was driving home from an outing and John became hysterical: Truly scared out of his wits. I pulled over to find out what had happened and he started to lecture me about my driving. I was going too fast, passing too close to parked cars, not paying attention to name a few of the high points.
At first I reacted with surprise, but as he went on and on, I got angry. How dare he tell me how to drive! I had driven him around (his choice) for years and not a peep, but now that he can’t remember how to get home, he’s going to lecture me about my driving habits? I don’t remember much about the drive home except that it involved a lot of yelling.
After letting off some steam at my support group, I decided to try other tactics. I was returning to work after a three-month medical leave and would have to drive John to day-care several times a week. I didn’t want to start the mornings screaming at him or vice versa. And he was still in a clinical trial in San Francisco; how was I going to get him there and back? Continue reading “Uneasy Rider” »
To eliminate Alzheimer's disease through the advancement of research; to provide and enhance care and support for all affected; and to reduce the risk of dementia through the promotion of brain health.
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Chapter Headquarters Alzheimer's Association of Northern California and Northern Nevada 1060 La Avenida, Mountain View, CA 94043 Phone 650.962.8111