Presented by Dr. Nerene Kleinhans
David is a 79-year-old retired school teacher who has lost his memory, has increased difficulties in searching for words and withdrawing from his fishing hobby in the last 6 months. He has a history of hypertension. His family doctor sees him and excludes other organic causes (such as depression, infection, thyroid disease) for his cognitive decline. Further tests on some visits lead to a diagnosis of dementia, a probable Alzheimer's disease. His doctor shares the diagnosis with David and his wife, Dawn. The family is fully aware of what is happening. However, they live in Calgary. His wife asks what else can do for David locally, in Creston, BC.
Dementia can be roughly divided into initial, intermediate and late stages. It is a long and exciting journey for the patient, the family and the main caregiver. This is the first of three articles that bring David and his family on this journey. Dawn feels overwhelmed by the diagnosis. Even David does not fully accept this and does not want to talk about it. They feel isolated from their friends. David agrees to connect with First Link. (East Kootenay 250 426 0534 or visit www.alzheimerbc.org) They find this link incredibly useful, as it provides instruction on dementia and support Dawn on how to deal with someone suffering from dementia and discussing guilt, pain and loss issues with her. . Above all, First Link puts them in contact with local Creston support groups. Some days are harder than others, and Dawn calls the Caregivers family of the BC support line (for those caring for a loved one with dementia). By calling 1-877-520-3267 (Monday to Friday, 8:30 am to 4:00 pm). They provide coaching and more resources. Dawn attends the caregiver support group in the Creston Library Hall on the first and third Friday of each month, from 1:00 pm to 3:00 pm. Talking to other caregivers who understand what they are going through is a great help.
David is worried about their will and is starting to forget his PIN for his bank cards. Their children come for a visit, and he agrees to talk to them about preventive planning. He admits it's overwhelming and does not know where to start.
Dawn has never been one for numbers and accounting, but now she knows where to find the help she needs. Schedule an appointment with Shannon Romano of Motivation Medics (toll-free 1-877-331-9412 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to help with advanced care planning and representation agreements, etc. Then they meet with Lorne Mann (Notary Public, 250-428-7194 or email@example.com) to finalize their will. Other options that David and Dawn might explore include 1. Your family doctor can refer you to a social worker to help you navigate the advanced care planning process. 2. The Kootenai Community Center Society has a staff member that caters to anyone over the age of 55. They can help with legal documents, complete the documents, complete the budget and face abuse and negligence. Book an appointment during office hours at 250-402-0068.
During their children's visit, David and Dawn go to the Creston & District Community Complex (250-428-7127) and enroll in Tai Chi. They are very impressed with the structures and decide to make it part of their daily routine. Dawn was instructed on how exercise can help prevent the progression of cognitive decline. Feeling more comfortable with the diagnosis of Alzheimer's dementia, tell their friends and, once again, meet regularly to play cards and board games. Even if David asks the same question a couple of times, he loves being with people who treat him like a person and understand his condition. They bring it to fish as often as they can. After putting it aside for many years, David and Dawn now realize that their surface is simply too much work for them. They decide to resize, while David is still good enough to be part of the process. David and Dawn regularly visit their family doctor who talks to them about the quality of life and stops all drugs that do not add up to that. They discuss the MOST form (Medical orders for the scope of treatment) and agree to let nature take its course and not to do CPR in case of cardiac arrest.
(Next week: Follow David's journey through the middle stage of dementia.)