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Ask Jennifer: Week ending 7/13

Posted at: 03/30/2010 2:51 PM
Updated at: 07/07/2014 10:22 AM

Daughter worries she has dementia too

Dear Jennifer,

My mother has Alzheimer’s and it is the saddest thing to watch. She gets so frustrated when she doesn’t remember something that she thinks she should know. One day I went to visit her at the home and she was sitting with one of the nurses who said, “Oh, your daughter is here!” My mother sounded really happy, but when she turned around, she didn’t recognize me. My heart broke. My mother searched my face and said, “This is the hardest part of all this; not knowing what you should know.” She looked miserable and I cried my eyes out.  

I feel so bad for her and now I worry I might have early Alzheimer’s too. I recently started forgetting things myself. Sometimes I can’t even remember what I was going to say.  I talked to my doctor. He gave me a memory test and I passed and he said I shouldn’t worry.  But I do worry. I’m too young to forget things. Every time I forget something I feel like crying. What can I do? Is there something that would help?

Thank you,
Noreen

Dear Noreen,

It is VERY common for family to become so stressed watching their loved one’s memory slip away, that the stress interrupts their own concentration. Alzheimer’s takes on a new meaning when we watch it ravage a loved one. It is not uncommon to become a bit terrified for ourselves at the same time we are trying to cope with and support a loved one’s decline.

You are sad. So very sad. And it sounds like the sadness may have moved into depression. You are grieving the losses you have had already with your mom and the losses yet to come.

Go back to your doctor. Talk about your mood and anxiety about this. Then contact the Alzheimer’s foundation and start attending support groups. It is so helpful to be with other people who know fully what you are experiencing.
And read today’s article about keeping your mind healthy.

Warm Regards,
Jennifer