REMEMBER AND HARM: Monthly column on Alzheimer’s disease. More often than not, the person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease is affected by a host of other health problems
Typically, it is not just Alzheimer’s disease (or other dementia) that afflicts a person who would have it.
Dementia is, after all, for older people and, more often than not, the sufferer suffers from a plethora of other health problems, large and small.
My mother, who has Alzheimer’s, has been suffering from high blood pressure since she was middle aged.
She had a transient ischemic attack (TIA) eleven years ago, at the age of 64. Over the past five or six years, she has been suffering from the hips and her nausea, most commonly the cause of the hip, is currently making my mother, me and my younger brother sick.
Once a week, a physiotherapist visits my mother and I (via video call), my younger brother and the part-time carers help my mom with the physical exercises she has to do every day, but the situation is getting worse go.
She has a twist as she walks and you can easily recognize from the strains on her and the thighs she lets out that she is hurt by every step.
Don’t ask me how that can be, but the hips don’t bother when cycling; without the same bike it would not be able to go further than 200 meters from the house.
By now, myself and my younger brother have forgotten how many visits we had to the GP with my mother to discuss the story of the hip.
The doctor says surgery is ruled out because my mom has Alzheimer’s disease.
Not only could my mom undergo surgery under general anesthesia, but my mom would have to recover to a care center for a month and a half, where she would have to learn to walk afresh – which would not be easy with her learning ability greatly reduced due to Alzheimer’s disease.
The psychologist who monitors my mother’s dementia, and has been appointed ‘manager’ of her case, does not agree with the GP.
The psychologist told us some months ago that there is still a window of time for surgical surgery on my mother’s hip – but that we need to be quick.
Then came the coronary virus.
We will be knocking on the door of the GP again once the Covid-19 outbreak is over – or at least at the time when it is safe to bring enough people in the age group most at risk from the disease long for a hospital for something as ‘trivial’ as hip surgery.
But in the meantime another difficulty is worrying us.
The pills my mother has to take to control high blood pressure – four different, at different times a day – she forgets from time to time, despite the fact that the system put in place may not force to distribute them is simpler.
It is no harm to forget once or twice a week, but when she is no longer able to take her medication properly, she may no longer be able to live alone.
More than ever before, it is clear to myself and my younger brother that Alzheimer’s disease is not an individual health problem, but a galaxy of problems at the heart of which Alzheimer’s disease is.