March 2nd, 2006

Right now, it’s just about my family’s struggle with my mother’s Alzheimer’s Disease. How one particular human being defies being a stereotypical AD sufferer.

My mother is almost 84 and was diagnosed with probable Alzheimer’s in January 2005. I took a few months to accept the diagnosis–she is not a “likely” candidate. No one in her family had it (and her father lived to be 94), and she is a college graduate who worked as a teacher all her life. As I came to terms with it I realized that I’d been explaining away some typical AD behavior for at least a year or so. It’s always surprising to run into your own mental walls.

I have my own house but I moved in with my mother “temporarily” right after the diagnosis. She was suffering at the time from severe depression, accompanied by hallucinations, but I’d seen how being in the hospital had affected my father the year before he died. He’d been admitted because of back problems, and the delerium began for him before his first day was over. The hospital was understaffed and no one acknowledged to me or my family that delerium is NOT uncommon in hospitalized elderly. The change in surroundings along with new medications scrambles their fragile perspective. It reversed itself in my father’s case, once he came home.

So I wouldn’t let my mother enter a hospital then, and I would not let her enter one now–unless she were having a medical emergency. And here we are.