Monday, February 6, 2012

AM I JUST FORGETFUL OR DO I HAVE DEMENTIA?

Me, my mom, my elder daughter and my
mom's four great-grandkids at Dementia
Homecare Centre during a recent CNY visit,
When the doctor told me last March that my mother had dementia, the news wasn't exactly a shock. My mother had become increasingly forgetful over the past months, and acting peculiar. Initially I put it down as part of ageing. After all, she was 85 at the time. Moreover, she could answer all three questions I asked her. This was a tip from my neighbour, a retired registered nurse. If my mom could give her age, full name and the names of all her children, she was okay.

My mom passed this simple test, and so I let the matter rest. Everything changed after she fell and broke her hip on 6 March 2011. During her 10-day stay at the hospital after the hip surgery, the doctors and nurses noticed signs of dementia in my mother. One of her doctors recommended that she see a geriatrician. To cut the story short, Dr Philip Poi of UMSC confirmed my mom had dementia.

My mother was subjected to several tests. One of them was the clock test. It's simple and can be done at home. If you suspect your elderly parent might have AD, ask him to draw a clock and fill in all the numbers. You may be surprised at the result.

If you have noticed certain signs of absent-mindedness, but you are not quite sure of these are early signs of Alzheimer's, you can take this test below. A ‘yes’ is given a score of one or two and a ‘no’ always scores zero, giving a maximum possible score of 27.

A score of less than five suggests there is no cause for concern, five to 14 suggests mild cognitive impairment or early stages of Alzheimer's, and a score higher than 14 could denote the person may already have AD.

21-question test for Alzheimer's. Click on Daily Mail for a bigger and clearer image.

By the way, what's the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's Disease? Dementia refers to symptoms of forgetfulness that may impact a person's daily functioning (see table above). AD is a specific type of dementia. It is the most common and affects mainly people aged 65 and above.

In my mom's case, she was constantly checking the calendar and the clock, wandering around the house even in the middle of the night and repeating stories umpteen times to the extent I had to rescue whoever she happened to be chatting with. She couldn't remember if she had taken her pills, showered or washed her hair. She forgot where she kept her things and often blamed the maid for stealing them. Fortunately the maid took her accusations as a symptom of dementia. These were some of the changes I noticed in my mom as her dementia progressed.

AD is incurable. But there are ways to slow down the advance. Do a Google or Youtube search, and you will be inundated by the number of links and videos that show up. The challenge is finding the most reliable recommendation. I can only share what the doctors have recommended for my mother.

You can check out the daycare centre where my mom spent three months last year at the link below. Lots of pictures of the place. If you have a loved one who has dementia, I highly recommend this centre in PJ. It is in Section 11, across the road from Universiti Hospital. Email me at seniorsaloud@gmail.com if you want to know more about the facilities and the caregiving services there.

The centre is holding a talk by a caregiver this Saturday at its premises. It is a good opportunity to learn more about dementia and AD, and also check out the place.

Related articles:

A DAYCARE CENTRE THAT'S LIKE A SECOND HOME

2 comments:

STEEST said...

This has been very helpful.

Sharon Ng said...

Would like to know how to make appt with dr. philip poi - my dad is showing signs of dementia and a host of other ailments of seniors. I can't find any webpage that can tell me his clinic hours.