By Stephanie Aragon, Director of Helpline
"My husband, George, a retired mail carrier, just turned 75 years old. Both my children and two granddaughters have noticed that he is having issues with his memory. For example, my granddaughter recently got married and my husband misplaced the speech that he had written. My son had to speak on his behalf. George also forgot our anniversary this year, which was devastating because he has always gone out of his way to make it a special day. My husband has always been the backbone of our family and I’m not sure who to turn to for help. What can I do?" — Claire
Many families are in a similar position and I am glad to hear that you are reaching out to CaringKind for support. Although symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease vary from person to person, if your husband is experiencing any problems with his memory outlined in the list below I would suggest seeking out an evaluation at one of the many diagnostic centers in New York City.
- Memory loss that disrupts daily life
- Difficulty planning or solving problems
- Forgetting how to do familiar tasks
- Confusion with dates, time or place
- Trouble with spatial relationships
- New problems with words in speaking or writing
- Misplacing objects and the inability to retrace steps
- Altered decision making; poor judgment
- Withdrawal from work or social situations
- Mood swings and changes in personality
When was George’s last office visit with his primary care physician? Have you discussed these concerns with his doctor? If the doctor notices a significant change in your husband he might suggest further testing. There are diagnostic centers in the five boroughs where your husband would be able to get a thorough evaluation. There George will be seen by a variety of specialists over a few visits. It would be best if you or another family member accompanies him during the visit since you will be asked to give a history of family illnesses. Physicians may request a CT scan or an MRI. The diagnostic evaluation goes into many aspects of health in order to rule out other illnesses. These details help to focus on what might be the cause or causes of your husband’s memory issues. Medicare will pay for the evaluation as he is over 65. With a full evaluation you will be better able to deal with George’s changes appropriately.
You can call our 24-hour Helpline at 646-744-2900 for assistance selecting a diagnostic center in your area. Once your husband is given a diagnosis you can also call our Helpline to register for our Understanding Dementia seminar. This is our introductory seminar which focuses on dementia and the resources and services that can help you and your family cope with the challenges today while you plan for the future. Feel free to attend alone or with your family but please note that the meeting will touch upon all stages of Alzheimer’s disease and it is not appropriate for George to attend.
If your husband is diagnosed with Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI) or early stage Alzheimer’s disease, and is open to being in a group with other people experiencing similar changes in their memory, he may want to consider participating in our Early Stage Center.
Also, remember we have various seminars and workshops that you can attend with your children as well as nearly 100 support groups throughout the five boroughs. We also have a Junior Committee, a group of young professionals who support and engage each other and the larger Alzheimer’s community, which may be of interest to your granddaughters.
George and Claire’s Journey continues on the next page...