Monthly Archives: July 2012

‘Sorry sir. We made a mistake. You don’t have Parkinson’s. Neither are you suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.’


Many years ago, a man was told that he was suffering from two diseases; first, Parkinson’s and some time later, Alzheimer’s disease. He was given medication to control them both. At the time that he was being pumped with tablets to regulate the diseases, first the one and then the other, in reality, he was suffering from normal pressure hydrocephalus, which is a treatable condition.

He symptoms were the following; he had trouble walking. His description ; “I felt as though my feet were glued to the ground. I fell quite often due to this problem and also experienced confusion.” There was a definite slowing of my reflexes; plus urinary urgency.

“I feel as if my father has left us,” his daughter said. “He is no longer the father I knew.” His wife’s description “My husband has reverted back to being the kid and I seem to be playing mother to him.”

His daughter was a nurse and she never gave up on him, searching for the real problem and eventually, this is what a neurologist found.  Her dad’s nervous syem was floating in fluid. A normal brain has a perfect balance of the fluid entering and leaving. But his brain had stopped reabsorbing the fluid allowing pressure to build up.

This patient was one of the lucky one who made a full recovery after having a shunt placed in his head. It rerouted the fluid to another part of his body where it was absorbed, giving him a second chance at life.

His specialist thinks that far too many elderly people actually expect their health to deteriorate and accept ailments as part of their normal aging process It gave this doctor a great deal of pleasure to tell this long-suffering gentleman;

“Sorry sir, but you don’t have Parkinson’s nor Alzheimer’s … we made a mistake.”


If you can meet with disaster and still triumph …

When I think of Cody, who plays sport in spite of having two prosthetic legs, it helps me remember all the positive things in my life as well as the good things lying ahead. This is far healthier than dwelling on tragedies. It’s okay to be sad sometimes, but making a new life and looking forward, is what counts.

The following poem IF by Rudyard Kipling, says it all:

If  you can dream but not make dreams your master,

If you can think and not make thoughts your aim,

If you can meet with triumph and disaster

and treat those two imposters just the same …

… yours is the earth and everything that’s in it.

Cody Maccasland


Communicating with someone who has Alzheimer’s disease

A friend told me that she she didn’t feel comfortable with the fact that she seemed to be repeatedly correcting her mother. when it was time to eat, she would insist that he had just eaten and then she watched her mother become frustrated and angry. She finally realized that something had to change; and that something was her. She simply had to change her attitude towards her mother. . . written by Bob DeMarco.

The caregiver of an Alzheimer’s disease patient has to to decrease his/her stress as well as that of the person he/she is taking care of. If I tell my patient that it is time to take a shower, and he says; “I have just taken a shower,” it is not advisable to correct him even though it is a natural reaction.  How about trying something else? Ask the patient which perfume she likes best or which soap to use; liquid or a bar. That way, she will be distracted and no longer insist that she had just showered. Showertime will no longer be a battle of wills, and can even be a pleasant experience for them both.

Get Away From Me, Alzheimer’s ! Don’t You Come Any Closer !

My guest blogger today is Leon Moss, whose blog on seniors is a very interesting one.

It’s enough that you have taken some of my friends from me and are casting your eyes on others; don’t you even think about laying your spiny fingers on me! I’d rather have the Grim Reaper touch me, scythe and all, instead of you!

 This has to be the fervent thought of many older folks as they watch friend or neighbor slowly disappear into a fog, asking the same questions over and over again, in the grip of the slow, insidious disease that enters your brain unseen and spreads its suffocating cobwebs over everything.

Alzheimer’s has no rules and has no favorites. Anyone from the mightiest to the lowliest on the social scale is a potential victim. I listened to Ronald Reagan’s last public speech a few weeks ago on a TV program and it sent shivers down my spine. “I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life.”

For the victim, the life that continues after the disease has settled in, is quite meaningless. He or she is in a nothingness, a world devoid of all meaning, emotion and understanding. For those around the victim, the disease will turn their lives into an ongoing nightmare of living and caring for an empty body, a loved one who is there beside one, but not there at all. 

Exceedingly Senior by Leon Moss


A test used to check whether a person is suffering from dementia …

My husband was suffering from dementia and was given instructions by a social worker and required to follow them.

Then she asked him to identify the day, date and time.

She asked a few questions like: who is the president? Who is the prime minister? What profession did you work in? Can you tell me your grandchildren’s names?

Then she asked him to pick up an object and place it on her desk; or on the window ledge.

The hardest part of the test came when she told him to listen very carefully to what she was going to say, to remember them and then repeat them in the same order. She spoke very slowly.

Meanwhile, I was told to be sure that my husband went for regular medical check-ups.

My daughters and I involved him in family outings and celebrations.

We made sure that there was a peaceful, supportive and calm environment at home.

As he had far too much time on his hands, we searched for new things for him to do.

We removed small rugs to prevent slipping.

I moved the drinking glasses and other breakables out of his reach and put hardy mugs in their place. Disposable cups proved to be far too flimsy and kept falling over, spilling water all over the place.

More than anything else, I found that patience was the operative word here.

During this time, I did a lot of reading on dementia and discovered that the human brain only weighs 1.36 kilograms which is 3 pounds, which is amazing, as the brain performs so many complicated functions.


When I felt that I could no longer go on, I thought about the good times in our lives


Caring for someone who has always cared for me, was so hard to accept. A part of me was ripped apart as I watched the daily losses my husband suffered as he slowly slipped away from me. Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease but the members of our family decided to celebrate every bit of life and of hope, and gave all the love we possible could give to our dad and husband. There were days when I wanted to remove myself from the chaos of my husband’s mind because it was so painful, but love kept me going.

 It was strange that this disease that is known for robbing memories, brought so many memories to mind. As I watched my husband’s deterioration, memories of our years together flashed across my mind.

There were days when we listened to opera which sometimes sparked memories of times gone by. When I felt worn out or was sure that I could no longer go on; when the sadness became too much for me to bear, I remembered the good things that had occurred in our lives.










It’s difficult at times, to face grief with a smile …


It’s difficult at times

to face grief with a smile.

It’s hard to make myself believe

It will pass in a while.

And when the pain is sharpest

Words are to no avail.

When tears fall hot and heavy

The best intentions fail.


And yet however heavy

The burdens that I bear

When no one else will listen

My girls will always hear

When no one else has spare time

They will lend a hand.

Although some forget me,

My daughters understand.

Our value lies in what we are and what we have been; and not in our ability to create the recent past

I asked my husband; “What did you eat for supper?”

“I haven’t eaten supper yet,” he replied.

BUT – If I had asked; “Did you enjoy the baked salmon this evening?”

He would probably have said; “It as really good. I like it best when you prepare it that way.”

His short term memory was incapable of retaining the information that he had eaten supper, but his long term memory was unable to give details from times gone by when he had taken an interest in the way I cooked. As the disease progressed, he went further and further back in time.

I heard about a patient who longer recognized herself in the mirror, but, she knew that she was the young woman in the snapshot that was shown to her, taken when she was young.

Homer, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease, said:

Our value lies in what we are and what we have been, and not in our ability to create the recent past.

While I still have my health, I intend to spend every day as if it were my last …

Caring for someone who had always cared for me, was difficult to accept. A part of me was ripped apart as I watched the daily losses my husband suffered as he slowly slipped away from me. Alzheimer’s is a devastating disease but my family decided to celebrate every bit of life that we could, and gave my husband, their father lots of love and support.

There were days when I wanted to remove myself from the chaos in my husband’s mind because it was so painful to witness, but love kept me going.

I found it strange that the disease that is known for robbing memories, actually brought so many memories to mind. Memories of the years spent together flashed across my mind as I watched his deterioration.

There were days when we listened to opera, which sometimes sparked a memory of time gone by. When I felt worn out or sure I could not last another day; when the sadness became too much to bear; I thought of the good things that had occurred in our lives.

I replayed parts of the  movie, The Bucket List starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman which I loved. Well, I have taken a page out of their book and made my own Bucket List. My daughters are dying to know what I listed there but I only shared two items with them. I have always wanted to see Opera in a super-special setting and I did. .. Carmen. Item two on my list is planning a trip to faraway places and although it will take time, I am busy with that right now.

While I still have my health, I intend to live every day as if it were my last.