Alzheimer`s Disease/Son with early onset
QUESTION: My 50 year old son was just diagnosed with Alzheimers. He was diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment 5 years ago. When they give you a life span of 8-10 year, is it from the actual diagnosis of Alzheimers or when the earliest symptoms began? He is still semi functional although EVERYTHING is very challenging for him.
Also, he is a recovered Alcoholic (10 years), severely depressed and is currently being treated and tested for thyroid nodules.
His doctor won't tell us she's a 100 percent sure of the Alzheimers diagnosis but believes the marked deterioration in his testing from 5 years ago until now would indicate the diagnosis. She is a neurologist at Baylor so I would think she is qualified.
ANSWER: Hello Sherry: I'm very sorry to hear of your son's diagnosis. I'm sure it's very difficult for you and your family to deal with it all. His sounds like a complicated case and I'll tell you why I think that.
Since he was diagnosed with MCI, then the inclination is for that to progress to AD. However, the fact that he is an alcoholic could also bring the diagnosis of alcoholic dementia into the mix. Either way, his brain is being destroyed by one or more types of dementia and the damage is progressing at a fairly rapid rate. Generally, once the diagnosis is made for AD, then the life span may be 8-10 years after that diagnosis, however there are many factors that play into that. If the onset was rapid (and early as his is), then it tends to progress more rapidly. Many elders live much longer than the 10 years, but there is not a good way to predict that.
I'm glad to hear he's being treated for his depression since that makes his dementia worse and makes him more miserable as well. It sounds to me as if you are doing everything you can to ensure his life is meaningful and as healthy as it can be, and that's never an easy thing.
I hope I've helped to clear up some of your confusion about this Sherry. Don't hesitate to question his doctor about this as well. I wish you much luck as you help your son through this journey. Cindy
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QUESTION: Do you think it possible for my husband and I (active 68 & 70) to care for him through the end? He has no assets and his wife and kids (currently in college) depend on her employment and his disability just to make ends meet.
I'm sure they would qualify for Medicaid and my husband and I could help a bit. However, the nursing homes I've checked out that accept Medicaid are rated poorly by Medicare. Are there any alternatives I'm not thinking of?
By the way, it feels so good to talk to someone about all this. As you can imagine my heart is breaking for him.
Hello again Sherry:
I'm glad to hear you and your husband are an active 68 & 70 because you will need it. There is no way to tell what the toll will be on both of you for this caregiving, but it will be physically, emotionally and financially draining. You may want to make a commitment to care for him as long as you are able, and if the time comes when you are not, then seek placement. Something to keep in mind is that if his dementia progresses rapidly and he becomes so ill and debilitated that he can be placed on hospice, then you would get some help for his care at home. That may not happen for several years (another unknown), but it's something to look into when the time comes. Do you have any group homes (personal care homes) nearby that would take him when the time comes? Some of them may have a better reputation than the nursing homes. I think it's a good idea to get him on Medicaid now if he qualifies, and reserve your monetary help for the family. You don't want any facility counting your money into his assets. You may also want to provide for his continued care--or his family's care--in your will should something happen to you. It's always a good idea to talk to an elder care attorney about these issues and he/she may be able to give you more guidance on protecting your assets as well as helping with his care.
Have you looked into getting him on Medicare? Is any kind of disability a possibility? Any veterans benefits? If he is a veteran, then check out any nearby VA facilities.
I wish I could provide you with more information--as well as a big hug--because I know you have many questions for which there are no answers yet, and I'm positive you and your husband both need more hugs.
A book I recommend is called "Creating Moments of Joy" by Jolene Brackey. It's full of great ideas to help improve the quality of life of the person with dementia as well as the family. My own book "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem - Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia" can also help you and your family learn better ways of interacting with him as well as reminding you of ways to take better care of yourself. You are already on the right road with seeking more information, so please don't stop searching. Just remember to be especially gentle with yourself and your husband. Bless you Sherry. Cindy