Life with Mom
—-This is a story of a shared life with Mom after her diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease.—
A follow-up visit to the Neurology clinic today brings hope.
A month ago, my mother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. That first appointment was for testing. Treatment began, and some obvious questions were answered. The Doctor instructed us to return in 3 months for retesting. But, when given a diagnosis that isn’t curable, and being sent for an MRI and blood work to rule out other diseases, we thought 3 months was too long to wait. At the very least, Mom and I wanted to check in to see if we’re managing the treatment correctly, and to have peace of mind about the MRI and blood work.
Alice was our hero today. She’s the Nurse Practitioner who we saw, and will be seeing at future appointments. She reviewed the results of all of the tests. Nothing more than normal aging was revealed. We were relieved.
She reviewed the medications. She provided sound advice on the timing of them, which may yield better results. Perfect. That’ll be easy to follow.
She informed Mom that having this diagnosis this “late” in life was good news. Many people are diagnosed at a younger age. She also threw in that something else will likely be her demise because of the late diagnosis. (Not so sure that’s good news…the unknown is sometimes scarier than the expected)
She said that the greatest risk for this disease is age, something we have no control over. But she then said something that gave us the greatest hope. She said “You have a lot of control of how this progresses.” I had my paper and pencil and continued taking notes, listening a little closer.
She said there are three things you can do to significantly slow the progression.
1). Physical Activity. Specifically aerobic exercise, 5 days per week, for 30 minutes each day. This is a cinch for Mom as she’s always been physically active. Many years ago, she got me into hiking the Adirondack High Peaks. Beyond that, she’s been a member of the YMCA since 1994 and has never shied away from exercise.
2). Good Nutrition. I can tell you that I was a disappointed kid when the neighbor kids had a never-ending supply of potato chips and Oreo cookies. Not us, though. We had a garden and were forced to eat horrible vegetables. I’m thankful for that early ”mistreatment” now. So, Mom knows about good nutrition.
3). Mental Exercises. Alice mentioned that engaging in anything that requires mental exertion will do. Reading, crossword puzzles, playing cards, etc. Mom does all of these things. She also threw in that engaging in conversations with people she either doesn’t know, or doesn’t talk to often is valuable. Studies have shown that talking to people who you live with doesn’t light up the brain like it does when talking with strangers.
So, that guy that Mom sat with in the waiting room last week when she was having her car serviced counts. The bonus was that he told her 3 times that she was beautiful. Her brain was probably on the verge of searing flames after that compliment.
So, meeting with Alice provided us with more knowledge about Alzheimer’s and how to successfully manage it. And we know that knowledge is power. Power translates into strength and energy.
And all of this gives us hope.