Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Why Didn't I Get It?

Be careful when you hear these words, "she is just getting old".
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I was talking to my sister one evening and she said to me, “You better call Mom she says she hasn’t talked to you in months.”

I laughed and said I talked to her two days ago. Later in the evening, I decided to call my mother. After she recognized my voice she said, “Well its about time you called.” When I said I just talked to you two days ago, she just shrugged it off and we began our usual conversation.

I really don’t know why I wasn’t more concerned at the time but to be honest I wasn’t. And neither was anyone else.

The typical comment I received from relatives and friends, “she sounds good to me.” I guess like most people, I just accepted the fact that she was getting old. Nobody saw a problem not even her friends who saw her on a daily basis.

Looking back there were plenty of signs.

For one thing, she was developing a very negative attitude. But, it seemed when I spent time with her -- a few days -- she would turn back into her normal self and start to have a more positive outlook on things.

Another sign occurred when she began to scrape her feet as she walked. I suppose I should have concluded something but I didn’t. Everyone said, "she is getting old".

We thought she was finally slowing down. I could go on and on.

Then Christmas came and I decided to take her shopping. To my surprise she could barely walk for five minutes without stopping. In fact, she was almost slumping over.

Out of the clear blue sky, or so it seemed, she just couldn’t walk any distance and it was struggle just getting her back to the car.

Clearly something was a-muck.

I took her to the doctor. Other than her high blood pressure, her heart was fine, and her overall blood work was good. Keep in mind we are talking about an 87 year old woman. A woman who had never had a major illness or operation her entire life. The closest she had come to any of that was when she had an operation on a bunion on her foot. The doctor told me, "she is getting older".

For some reason she was no longer able to walk comfortably. I began to notice how she was somewhat unsteady, how she began to reach out and hold on to things as she walked, and how she no longer had an interest in doing anything that required her to walk.

Two years earlier this woman, my mother, walked more than a mile round trip with me in New York to eat breakfast.

This is when my stomach started to bother me. My head was telling me, "she is getting old". My body was telling me a different story.

Bob DeMarco is an Alzheimer's caregiver and editor of the Alzheimer's Reading Room. The Alzheimer's Reading Room is the number one website on the Internet for insight into Alzheimer's disease. Bob taught at the University of Georgia, was an executive at Bear Stearns, the CEO of IP Group, and is a mentor. He has written more than 600 articles with more than 11,000 links on the Internet. Bob resides in Delray Beach, FL.

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