Friday, July 25, 2014

Monday, June 28, 2010 Debra, Community Member, asks

Q: Alzhimers and Agent Orange Vietnam

How can you be sure that there is on connection with the agent orange spraying my father has prostate cancer and his mental health has declined dramatically and the doctors did a bran scan in June 09 said everything was normal he was diagnosed with prostate cancer 4+4 and x rayed all over his body came back as not spreading.  Then in August he started with Alzhimers.had to be hospitalized and in diapers  how can the two  not be connected.

 

There is no family history of prostate cancer or Alzhimer's dementia in the family my father had three brothers two living and one die at 68 heart attack one sister living. they are all in there late 70 no health problems except high blood pressure.

 

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Answers (15)
Dorian Martin, Health Guide
6/29/10 12:12pm

Hi, Debra,

 

The only thing that we have to go on is the latest research. Thus far, little linkage has been identified. I wrote this reply to an earlier post about Agent Orange and thought if might be helpful for you:

 

"I did a quick search and came up with this book entitled, "Veterans and Agent Orange", which was published by The National Academies Press. The authors write, "An update of the Air Force Health Study (AFHS), which looked at cognitive effects on people involved in the aerial spraying of Agent Orange (the Ranch Hands) has been published, as has a study of cognitive effects on Czech workers exposed to TCDD during the production of 2,4,5-T. A case–control study of possible factors contributing to Alzheimer's disease, including pesticides, has also been published. Inconsistent effects on cognitive endpoints were seen in the AFHS and the Czech study. No significant relationship was seen between exposure to pesticides and Alzheimer's disease."

 

This intial report was published in 1994, but A 2008 update also is available on line which states: "The authoring committee found suggestive but limited evidence that exposure to Agent Orange and other herbicides used during the Vietnam War is associated with an increased chance of developing ischemic heart disease and Parkinson's disease for Vietnam veterans." However, the report doesn't seem to mention anything about Alzheimer's, at this point.

 

Perhaps the men who served in Vietnam and were exposed to Agent Orange are just reaching the ages when Alzheimer's will begin to show itself. Therefore, additional research could be helpful to see if there is some sort of linkage.

 

 

Take care!

 

Dorian

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Debra, Community Member
6/29/10 4:34pm

Hi Dorian, Thanks for your answer.  I read that last night on the internet.  My problem is how can the tell if the rest of the nervous system has been comprimised by the TCDD I agree with you they should do more research for the Vietnam Vet's that will be diagnosed with the awful diasease. I do think that Vietnam Vet's deserve to have the benifits for their health care near the end of there lives.  They did serve this conunrtry in Vietnam War with pride and we should treat them with pride.

Debra

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
7/ 1/10 11:01am

Hi Debra,

Your local VA probably has a copy of the Vietnam "footprint" - that applies to Vietnam vets and health problems they should look for. This may be helpful for you. Call your nearest center and see if they have this.

 

Carol

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
7/24/10 9:54am

You should work for the VA. Your answer sounds like it. Go to a VA Hospital and tell all the vets with this that it may be normal aging. Heart attacks, strokes, alzheimers, nerve damage. Your answer is full of it and not accetable. If you do not work for the VA, you should apply! You fit in. We Vietnam Veterans are dieing with your answer in our back pockets fomr the VA, at a faster rate than WWII Vetterans. Answer me this, what is wrong with that picture. If the VA is looking at this, you will probablily recieve a call from them or Hillary Clinton, who just normalized relations and gave them milllions of dollars to rebuild, for a job application. If you are not with VA, God Bless, you need to read all the Vietnam  communications on this internet. I am a 1964-65 Vietnam Veteran with 4-5 strokes(AT AGE 53), heart attack, sleep apnea, hypertension, low pottasium, vitamins D and E, etc, but this is normal aging, RIGHT? I am 66 now, and don't think I will make it to year 2013 as predicted. We Vietnam Veterans don't need answers like yours, we have the VA for that! Your answer arouses my anomosity (pisses me off)!. Please excuse my spelling and grammer, you probabily will!

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
7/24/10 10:28am

Don't listen to Dorian. The picture of two old ladies is probabily from the VA. The answer is certainly one from the VA. This is NOT  normal aging! Heart attack, strokes, dementia, cancer, parkinson, cancers all over the body. NORMAL AGING MY REAR END. Additional research should be done. Right! We will research it to death. We know already! That is why we normalized relations with Vietnam years ago and paid them milions of dollars, as of this week. Yet we have to RESEARCH your dads problem! Fight for his claims to the VA (Vietcong Administration). Get your legislatures envolved! go to a Veterans Service Officer to aid you with filing a claim. Then repeal the first rejection! God Bless. I am a 66 year old Vietnam Veteran with 4-5 strokes, sleep apnea, and 1 heart attack. I have applied for VA compensation and fighting them since 1997.

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Rita, Community Member
8/29/10 10:22pm

Dorian,

 

My husband was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease because he was 59 at the time of diagnosis.  This is hardly the age at which Alzheimer's Disease begins to 'show itself'.  My husband served in Viet Nam and was indeed exposed to Agent Orange (AO). Someone must sit up and listen to the plea of the loved ones who are watching spouses suffer from this horrible disease and work harder to establish a link between AO and Alzheimer's. 

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christy, Community Member
11/22/10 2:20pm

My father was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers at 54. He died just over a week ago at the age of 64. This is NOT normal aging , or "the age when Alzheimers " shows up"....what a crock. My father was a Marine in Vietnam from 67-68.  He was exposed to agent orange, had skin tumors to prove it. I absolutely believe that Agent Orange played a role in  his illness..prior to the Alzheimer's my dad was a marathon runner in excellent health.

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Mitzi Wampler-Spade, Community Member
5/ 3/12 5:38pm

Rita my husband, a Vietnam Vet served in country from 1968-1970 he had PTSD, Chloracne, and died at the age of 59 with Frontotemporal Dementia. I also believe it is the reaction to Agent Orange. He was a healthy man and one day he started losing his memory and in 7 years he was gone. He suffered from head aches and leg cramps for years after Vietnam. This is NOT normal aging. More research needs to be done and they need to be honest about the results. I propose a research study that includes all vets that were exposed and compare them to the ones that were not.

 

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veteran spouse, Community Member
5/ 3/12 7:08pm

My husband was in-country 68-70 and was exposed to agent orange.  His neurologist has diagnosed  some type  of dementia with aphasia, the exact diagnosis yet to be determined.  I  read about your husband with frontotemoral dementia. We can propose studies all we want, but nothing ever seems to  get  done because it will cost the gov't milliions in compensation  to our vets. Where do we go  rom here?

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Reen, Community Member
6/24/12 11:18am

My husband had prostate cancer in 07....in 09 at age 59, he lost his job due to dementia....it is fronto temporal dementia....Ever since the prostate cancer nothing is the same.  He was in Nam all of 1970 in an area that was cleared and where they stored Agent Orange.  I am just waiting for the next thing to happen.

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
10/ 7/11 3:29pm

YOU ARE FULL OF BULL AND MUST WORK FOR THE VA!! NO ONE SHOLD LISTEN TO YOUR CRAP!!

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Is anyone out there?, Community Member
12/ 5/11 8:47pm

Hello All,

 

Frustrated, I started my search tonight for help. After reading everyones communications I can see I am  not alone. My husband too was in the middle of the spraying of agent orange. He was shot and recieved a purple heart. Upon leaving he was deemed 30% disabled. Two years ago he became very sick, after much testing it was found he was a diabetic.

 

Knowing exposure to Agent Orange could have been the cause of his problem and the footprint for Agent Orange states they will assume responsiblity, we filed a claim. He was awarded another 20%, which should mean he is now 50% disabiled. However nothing is normal with the gov therefore he was deemed to have a 40% disability.

 

Last year he experienced a stroke which uncovered after months of testing moderate dementia. He is already having trouble remembering who I am. He almost caught the house on fire making a pop tart, can not drive, has trouble reading, using a cell phone or any simple daily things.

 

While all this is happening I lost my job. Ok, I am working to fnd a job working from home to allow me to care for him. The problem is the only medical issues covered by the VA are anything related to his 40% disability. He was shot in the arm, and they are covering anything related to his diabeties. Nothing more!

 

My Cobra insurance is going to be $1285 dollars per month. My health is good and I could find another policy. However, with his health issues, if I do not take this Cobra Coverage, he will not have medical coverage for 14 months, which is when he will be old enough for medicare. This month he will recieve his first check fr social security disability. Although he won his social security disability, the program is he is not eligiable to recieve medicare for 24 months after being deemed disabiled.

 

Bottomline, I feel like running away. It's a lose lose situation. Does anyone have ideas on medical insurance? Is there a way to get coverage through the VA? I can not afford $1,280 per month. I am trying to do the right thing, it's just our system is not setup to protect us. Instead, we send millions of our dollars overseas to protect other countries.

 

It's hard to pretend the world is turning in the right direction to prevent my sick husband from worrying when I am at the end of my rope. Both of us have worked all our lives, he served our country and this is what we get in return.

 

 

 

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veteran spouse, Community Member
5/ 3/12 7:15pm

My heart goes out to you.  Please see my reply tonight under "veteran spouse"

With further frustration I report that a fire extinguisher exploded in my husband's government car, he was covered in the fire  retardant and  inhaled it too. He was sent to occupational rehap and later nodules were discovered in his lungs--whether from the retardant or  agent orange we will never know.  The VA denied his claim.

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General Abrams, Community Member
2/13/12 11:14pm

Dorian,

My brother is dead from agent orange.  We spent our time together in viet nam.  1967 and 1968.  These agents were sprayed in a variety of ways including trucks. helos, planes, and spray cans.  There was no recorded records of any cancers in either side of my family until we returned from overseas.  The prostrate problems first and then cancer everywhere.  He allowed them to treat him and he's now dead.  I have resisted such folly so far.  I have chrinic Prostitis and urinary infections and my memory is failing dailey.  The tests will be forthcoming but it's a good bet that als heimers is just around the corner.  As is the case with most government studies, I will be dead and buried and low and behold it turns out that the pesticides actually did cause many more diseases than we thought.  Oh well.  Water under the bridge now. 

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General Abrams, Community Member
2/13/12 11:19pm

Dorian,

My brother is dead from agent orange.  We spent our time together in viet nam.  1967 and 1968.  These agents were sprayed in a variety of ways including trucks. helos, planes, and spray cans.  There was no recorded records of any cancers in either side of my family until we returned from overseas.  The prostrate problems first and then cancer everywhere.  He allowed them to treat him and he's now dead.  I have resisted such folly so far.  I have chrinic Prostitis and urinary infections and my memory is failing dailey.  The tests will be forthcoming but it's a good bet that als heimers is just around the corner.  As is the case with most government studies, I will be dead and buried and low and behold it turns out that the pesticides actually did cause many more diseases than we thought.  Oh well.  Water under the bridge now. 

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Linda L, Community Member
7/12/10 9:17pm

Good question.

 

My husband served in Vietnam 1970-1971 (I Corps area). He was diagnosed with frontal temporal dementia (FTD) and primary progressive aphasia when he was 59 - symptoms predate diagnosis by more than 8 years but since FTD often begins with behavioral symptoms getting a diagnosis is very difficult. There is no history of FTD or PPA in his family.

 

Recent research is showing a connection between FTD and ALS (ALS was recently added  as a presumptive condition - not for Agent Orange but for military service). When you throw in Parkinson's, another neurological disease, disease, how can any neurological disease not be suspect.

 

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Debra, Community Member
7/13/10 12:15am

thank you for your information.  this is also similar to my dad

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
7/24/10 10:15am

Apply, apply apply! to VA compensation. Fight for it! To prepare, gather all medical records, your fathers service records. the United States government normalized relations with Vietnam, and now they have granted them millions of dollars for rebuilding. We are treating then better than we do our Vietnam Veterans! We are dieing at a faster rate than WWII. Read all communication sites for Vietnam Veterans. You will discover we are saying the same thing, diseases diseases, diseases. Go to Veterans Service Officer to apply to VA. Don't listen to this normal aging stuff! 4-5 Ischemic Strokes , 1 Ischemic Heart attack is not normal when I was age 53. Fight the VA for compensation if you have not done so already. Gods speed!

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Ms. M, Community Member
1/ 9/12 9:03pm

My husband (Vietnam vet) has also been diagnosed with early dementia (he was 60) by the VA.  The VA also treats him for such.  He has a neurologist, a primary care doctor, and meds are provided too.  I could use the compensation to pay insurance for other health needs. I had to retire early in order to care for him. How do I apply and what must I say to the benefits department.

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Judith, Community Member
9/23/12 2:38pm

Hi my husband served in Vietnam from 67-71 and is 70 now.   I too had to retire early.  The VA diagnosed him with Lewy body Dementia about five years ago, but only at my insistance that their first diagnosis of "natural aging" was bunk.  Tom is being treated by VA for LBD and takes lots of meds, three new ones have been prescribed this past month.  Upon filing a service related claim the VA has awarded us a 20 percent disability for his diabetes and nothing for the dementia.   We just received a letter saying we must appeal this decision with a few weeks I think or the claim will be closed.  I feel his mental problems stem from service in Vietnam and should be compensated for.  I am afraid I will not be able to afford the total care it appears he will need as his ability to deal with daily life is demishing, he no longer can drive, has trouble reading and experiences hallucinations.   Did you have any success with applying for benefits?

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KAty, Community Member
4/10/11 3:31am

Wow, My Dad served in Vietnam USMC 1970-1971 as a sniper. He was service connected with a lot of fighting on our part for his DM. In 2008 when he was 59 he had his second heart attack and the sudden onset of FTD. It was difficult to get the diagnosis took 3 months and a lot of heart ache. The behavioral aspects would have had him diagnosed as schizophrenic which he was not. A rare dementia, normal dementias do not cause an individual to deteriorate so rapidly. My Dad had the progressive asphasia and ALS like weakness. He lost 50 lbs and was developing dysphagia (choking when he swallowed). He was seen the evening beore he died at the VA clinic visit they did a EKG and sent him home. He died in 2010 peacefully in his sleep, a heart attack according to the death certificate. Spared the worst of the disease, FTD is ugly. We also do not have a family history of it or ALS. I really hope the dementia aspect is researched for Vets exposed to AO, they need all th help they can get.

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pansies, Community Member
5/ 4/11 10:12am

first let me say I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad.....I was wondering if your father ever got compensation from va for the ftd.....was he ever formally diagnosed with als or did the va just say it was ftd only....that was they say about my husband ...that he has ftd-ppa but not als symptons....he shows signs of parkinsons and some als symptons(like the dysphagia part) they (the va) do not want to put als or parkinsons symptons in their notes because then they know i could file for va comp under agent orange exposure.....my husband was doubly exposed....his training was at fort gordon in augusta ga during the time period they had sprayed the agent orange their to test it out....now all these years later that area is called the dead zone (no foliage) just let the public be aware of this a few months ago on tv.....then he goes to vietnam and gets his second exposure.....he only gets 30 percent va comp (just got in 2009) for hearing loss and tinnitis where an artillery blast knocked him to the ground and ruptured his eardrum and he bled from his ear.....just got hearing aids last year.....all these years he was entitled to comp and get its almost 40 years later.....too many of our loved ones have the same symptoms....i guarantee you the ones diagnosed with early alzheimers in their 50's actually had a form of FTD instead and it is related to the agent orange....va just wants them all dead so they dont have to pay more comp......i wish someone out there would help us get ftd-ppa on the agent orange list....it is just as bad as als and if they proved that people with als are connected with ftd then WHY in the world dont they say FTD is connected with ALS but they WON"T.....so so sorry about your dad.....this is all SO WRONG.......

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
10/ 7/11 3:26pm

Untreated Sleep Apnea is causeing the deaths of many Vietnam Veterans in there sleep. god knows the VA will never admit that!!

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pansies, Community Member
5/ 4/11 10:01am

my husband is a vietnam veteran and was diagnosed jan 2010 with ftd-ppa and showed ppa symptons as far back as 2007. he is now 61....i do not understand why the va will recognize als but NOT ftd as service connected other than they do not want to pay compensation.....ftd has some of the same symptons of parkinson's and of als but cant get a va doc to state that so i can get comp. for my husband....it is so unfair.....he just got comp in 2009 for loss of hearing and tinnitis that he had suffered with for around 40 years from an artillery blast that knocked him to the ground and ruptured his eardrum.....his hands shake really bad....central nervous system messed up....rigid and now has trouble with movement and control of his tongue....does that not sound like the beginnings of parkinsons and als.....i wish someone could help me....i am all alone.....only child is 31 and been very ill for over 8 years and  i was caregiver to my mother with alzheimers until she had to go to nh....i am now caregiver to my husband....GOD and I do the job all alone....no family or friend support.....i do have lots of people praying for us and i am so grateful for that.....the stress of the heartache of 3 loved ones ill is more than i can bear at times.....our vietnam vets have always gotten the short end of the stick it seems.....you have to agree their is definitely a connection between vietnam war and agent orange exposure....too many people in their 50's getting diagnosed with alzheimers or ftd....i bet the ones dx. with alzheimers actually have a form of ftd instead ,especially IF they are not having problems with memory....my husband is gradually going mute and hasnt written in years....memory intact but cognitive skills gone.....GOD BLESS YOU AND ALL OF US GOING THROUGH THIS HORRIFIC DISEASE.....

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veteran spouse, Community Member
5/ 3/12 7:32pm

Your post was a year ago.  How are you and your husband?

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V. Aden, Community Member
8/23/11 7:08pm

My husband recently died at age 65 from Early onset Alzheimer's; Lewy Body disease; TDP-43 associated with ALS and other dementia related illnesses including Parkinsonian features.  I am firmly convinced his illness was related to his military career and to his year in Viet Nam.  We did not apply for any disability as there was no conclusive evidence it was connected to his time in Vietnam.  Even his VA neurologist was suspicious of Agent Orange and other pesticide causes.  How does one go about proving something like this?  He had a brain autopsy and I am waiting for the final results.

 

 

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veteran spouse, Community Member
5/ 3/12 7:34pm

Your post was many months ago.  How did you  make  out with the VA?   I am just now starting down the road you  followed. 

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veteran spouse, Community Member
5/ 3/12 7:21pm

Please read my other replies tonight under "veteran spouse".  One possible diagnosis for my husband is primary  progressive aphasia.  PET scan tomorrow.  Please guide me to any information you may have.

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
7/24/10 9:36am

I am a Navy 1964-1965 Vietnam Veteran. I have a Ischemic Heart Attack plue 4-6 Ischemic Strokes. The heart attack I did'nt even know about. Even one of my Korean Veterans is having symptoms of Agent Orange damage through his nervous system. He is slowly dieing and you can see it. The US Governement has been to Vietnam, and normalized relations. Now we have granted them millions of dollars to rebuild there nation, yet we make Vietnam Veterans jump through hoops for benefits. I hope he is receiving disibilty benefits from the VA. If not, locate a Veterans Service Office and apply. He will only be paid back to his first filing. If you have problems, go to your legislatures for your state. FIGHT FOR WHAT HE DESERVES. If we can spend millions on rebuilding Vietnam, we can certainly pay benefits for those Veterans who fought in Vietnam.

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
7/24/10 11:50am

Yes, our Veterans need to get the support and help they deserve. Keep fighting. Agent Orange damages have expanded but there is likely still much that is not known.

Carol

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angelannm, Community Member
7/28/10 6:28pm

My husband, age 59, is also a Vietnam Veteran and was directly exposed to Agent Orange while in combat duty.  Five years ago he was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimers Disease and has been institutionalized for close to a year now.  No evidence of Alzheimers Disease in the family.  His decline has been fast and furious.  Now we're dealing with severe PTSD symptoms.  The only factor in his demise is Agent Orange.  Of this, I am certain that there IS a connection.  I am asking the VA to take ownership that Agent Orange IS responsible for this horrible disease and to assist with his care and his family's well being.  Anyone else dealing with this?  I encourage others to take a stand as this can no longer be swept under the rug.

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
7/29/10 10:24am

Go to a Veterans service Officer. Put in claims. Don't listen to this Dorian broad, that is the VA undercover! We are now coming down with various diseases. Heart and brain are being effected.

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angelannm, Community Member
7/29/10 2:20pm

I met with a VA Advocate this morning and filed a claim for PTSD and to get his benefits upped so we'll see what happens now.  Thanks for responding.

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Debra, Community Member
7/31/10 10:36pm

I wish everyone who wrote on this board good luck and I am taking your advice and fighting for what I think my Dad deserves the problem is that he is house bound now and the VA said they can't do anything unless he sees a VA doctor and that is not possiable. I do have a Hopice social worker who is coming next week to try and help   I truly believe that is everyone that is affected documents and sticks together we wil all help each other to get what our men and women who served this country deserve.

thank  you God Bless

Debra

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angelannm, Community Member
7/31/10 11:40pm

Debra, Stay strong and BELIEVE that you are doing the right thing.  Our veterans put in their time and the VA owes them for their dedication to our Country.  Let us know how things are progressing and stay in touch.  God Bless you and your family.

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
8/ 2/10 9:47am

Fight! Fight! Fight! get it before your dad is dead!

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HeartbrokenWife, Community Member
4/20/11 3:08pm

My husband was diagnosed with Early Onset Alzheimer's Disease four years ago at age 57.  He is now 61.  Just like you - no evidence fo Alzheimer's Disease in the family.  Thank God he had applied a few years earlier for disability due to PTSD. He receives 100% disability and social security.  He was a combat medic in Vietnam 69-70.  He gets the usual medication from the VA.....memantine and galantamine.  In addition, we are taking part in a study for the drug bapineuzemab.  All of these are meant to delay the progress of the disease.  I "think" it has been helpful.  As part of the study the patient is given a very thorough exam to ensure that they can become part of the study.  The doctor looked at him straight in the eye and said "You are a perfectly healthy young man with the exception of Alzheimer's".  Needless to say, this is very heartbreaking.   I am 59 years old and have had to take over all the responsibilities at our home while holding down a fulltime job.  I will be "retiring" within the next few days, in order to spend time with him before he gets too bad.  Want to spend some quality time with him before he gets too bad.  My husband went to the Vet Center and they were very helpful in assisting him along with way to obtain full disability benefits.  Without this we would be in a world of hurt.  The news recently came out with the fact that brain trama is a factor to be considered when diagnosing Alzheimers.   DO NOT allow this to be swept under the rug.  It is way to important!

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SC vietnam Caregiver, Community Member
4/24/11 10:38am

I had to retire also at 56 to take care of my husband with PTSD, prostrate cancer(gleason 7), diabetic,neuraphy and alzheimers. He was in the Army in Vietnam when they used double strength agent orange everyday. Being in the jungle as a security guard he was in it all the time.  He is 100% from the VA but the SS cut his pay because he was so young when he got sick.

With the Lords help I plan on keeping him at home until the end. 

This disease you lose friends who do not know how to act with an alzheimer person.  I will always believe all his diseases were caused by Agent Orange.

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pansies, Community Member
5/ 5/11 5:36am

I was wondering if your husband has memory problems related to alzheimers or if he might possibly have another type of dementia called FTD(frontotemporal dementia) because of his young age...My husband has FTD-PPA(primary progressive aphasia)and is now 61 but showed symtons at age 56....His memory is intact but he is going mute and has written in years....I think a lot of our veterans are getting alz.dx. when in fact it may be ftd which is usually diagnosed around the age you mentioned....I am 55 and caregiver to my husband that just got the ftd dx. in jan 2010 and was told no more work....ss disability went through in less than a month after we waited the six month time limit before filing....After reading all these posts about brain disorders and all of them being in their 50's it ABSOLUTELY HAS TO BE RELATED TO THEIR EXPOSURE TO AGENT ORANGE.... WHY OH WHY DOESNT THE VA RECOGNIZE FTD ON THE AGENT ORANGE LIST...THEY RECOGNIZE ALS(LOU GEHRIGS DISEASE) WHICH MANY OF THE FTD SYMPTONS MIMIC ALS.....BOY DO I FEEL ALONE IN ALL OF THIS....GOD BLESS YOU AND GOD BLESS AND HELP US ALL IN TRYING TO COPE WITH THIS HEARTBREAKING DISEASE.....

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
1/26/11 2:04pm

After you file a claim get your Senator envolved!!!!!~~~~~

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
4/11/11 7:54am

The VA has a "footprint" of issues shown to be caused by Agent Orange. I'm sure there are yet more than those discovered. But please do check with your local Veteran's representative and ask for the Vietnam footprint for Agent Orange. 

 

Genetics don't always figure into Alzheimer's or prostate cancer, and there is much that is unknown. But it doesn't hurt to check into this, as more benefits for your father may be available if his issues can be traced to military service.

Take care of yourself, too,

Carol

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nickii, Community Member
5/30/11 7:27pm

My father served in vietnam in 67 abd 68.  In his late 50s had heart attacks and tia'a. A couple years later had another stroke and now at age 73 in nursing home with advanced alzhiemers dementia. He was a man who stood strong and never mentioned he was having probems dealing with the PTSS. Actually that wasn't even a diagnosis at that time. Now at age 72 in nursing home is terrified of thunderstorms, heavy rain, loud sounds and ect. He thinks these sounds are war around him. Is anyone else out there dealing with this and what can you do to ease there burden of PTSS and Alzhiemers and not understanding anything. Having a hard time dealing with this. Just wished I knew how to comfort him now in the end with all the PTSS he's suddenly showing in fear. 

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Dr. Osborne, Community Member
7/18/11 6:00pm

Dr. Glenn Osorne, DSc., National Director odf Education for The Center for Elder Veterans Rights, PC.

 

I have just finished reading through the articles shown above and assure you all that I am not a shill for the VA!  However, I have to remind everyone that VA Disability entitlement is a matter of law.  There has to be rules that govern eligibility for benefits or else it would be a free for all with however shouts the loudest getting assistance.  Here is the simple truth:  The VA delegated the study to link Agent Organge exposure with various diseases to the National Board of Health.  Studies there are linked AO exposure to about a dozen diseases.  You can see the whole list here: http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/agentorange/diseases.asp.

 

The points relevant in law are these:  If even the sole of your boot touched Vietnamese soil between 1964 and 1975, you are presumed to have been exposed to AO.  If you were there, you do not have to legally prove exposure/  That is granted.  Secondly, if you have one of the diseases listed above, that disease is presumed in law to be a direct result of AO expose and you are eligible for benefits depending on the theoretical rate your disability prevents you from seeking, gaining and holding "substantially gainful employment."

 

Unfortunately, there is no medical study that indicates any connection between dementia (presumably excepting Parkinsonian dementia) and AO exposure.  The VA requires medical proof, not a suposition that "Well, what else could it be?"  If you can't prove the connection between the disease and the current presumptions of law, right or wrong, your claim is going to be denied properly and no amount of calling by a Congressman' or Senator's office will change that.

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
7/19/11 9:14am

Thank you, Doctor, for this valuable explanation. I was writing a  newspaper column a number of years back on veterans benefits and stumbled upon the "footprint", which I then sent to my brother who was in Vietnam during those years. Information coming from people who know the law is an enormous help to everyone, as information can get so muddled when passed through many hands. 

Again, thanks for the input.

Carol

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Dr. Osborne, Community Member
7/19/11 11:36am

Thank you for the kind reply, Carol.  I was appalled at the typos in my original message, however.  Amazing how I got through graduate school twice with "hunt and peck" typing!  However, I wanted to add that disability benefits are most certainly available to our Veterans, under the guidelines of either the Service Connected or Non-Service Connected programs.  We are quite often contacted by Alzheimer's Associations asking for our assistance to procure funds for eligible Veterans or their unremarried surviving spouses to help with the cost of caring for someone suffering from Alzheimer's.  Our goal is to consult with families before a care decision is being made, dispell the myths about benefits and help them obtain the maximum funding available.  If we can be of any assistance in any way, please do not hesitate to call on us.  Regards, Glenn

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
7/19/11 11:48am

I have and I will, Glenn. The VA has been helpful to me, as have the Medicare sites. Communication with people who need benefits is improving because of the Web.

 

I laughed at your typo remark. Believe me, as a person who makes a living as a writer, finding typos after the article has gone live is humbling. But it happens to all of us. And you aren't expected to be a typist  - chalk it up to being a busy doctor. We appreciate your time very much.

 

Take care,

Carol

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nikkilog, Community Member
7/ 9/12 11:41am

Im a little confused on the stipulations. My dad is a Vietnam Veteran but was never deployed but he was exposed to Agent Orange and has more than one of the diseases connected to Agent Orange Exposure does he still have to prove Agent Orange Exposure? Can someone please clarify the rules fott me thank you.

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
7/ 9/12 12:44pm

YOU should work for the VA! You fit it in. I have been fighting them since 1997, 4 - 5 strokes and 1 heart attack, VA  tested demensia, and approved for service connection by the Minneapolis VA Hospital. Case still denied, cause I am US Navy. All of this (strokes and VA tested dementia) happened at age 53. Heart attack 2008.

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
10/ 7/11 3:27pm

File a claim with VA and began the fight.

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
1/10/12 8:36am

Absolutely!

Persistently fighting for the rights of Vietnam veterans is crucial. Call your local representative and ask what steps need to be taken. Get the "footprint" from your rep for those who served in Vietnam, which tells of the many diseases they are finding likely are caused by service at that time. Keep fighting.

Carol

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
1/10/12 8:35am

Absolutely!

Persistently fighting for the rights of Vietnam veterans is crucial. Call your local representative and ask what steps need to be taken. Get the "footprint" from your rep for those who served in Vietnam, which tells of the many diseases they are finding likely are caused by service at that time. Keep fighting.

Carol

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
1/10/12 8:35am

Absolutely!

Persistently fighting for the rights of Vietnam veterans is crucial. Call your local representative and ask what steps need to be taken. Get the "footprint" from your rep for those who served in Vietnam, which tells of the many diseases they are finding likely are caused by service at that time. Keep fighting.

Carol

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Reen, Community Member
5/ 5/12 12:29pm

My husband was in country for all of1970, worked in an area that stored Agent Orange and all of the area was cleared by Agent Orange.  He was diagnosed with FTD in 2009, had prostate cancer in 2007.  Yeah it makes me wonder too.  At least....he is getting medical care at the VA and getting some compensation.  I agree that it will not be acknowledged as a result of AO until that generation of veterans are all gone.  The cost of war just goes on and on and on. 

 

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Scott, Community Member
6/21/12 10:53pm

My father served 2 tours at Udorn RTAFB in Thailand as an aircraft mechanic working for Air America.  He was diagnosed first with Korsakoff Syndrome, then early-onset Alzheimer's disease at 58.  His disease had already progressed to a point where he scored at a FAST scale 5 on the cognitive test.  

 

My mother has fought the VA for benefits since diagnoses.  He was diagnosed with Ischemic Heart Disease, and given no compensation.  He has been to 3 behavioral health facilities in TX and LA, the VA hospital in Shreveport, LA, and ETMC in Tyler, TX.  All of the medical facilities he has been admitted to placed him in restraints, allowing him to defecate and urinate all over himself, and starve for days at a time because they didn't know how to handle him.  He is unable to communicate, and cries uncontrollably.  Several doctors and nurses have suggested that he likely suffers from Lewy Body Syndrome - A disease closely linked to both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease.

 

After dedicating 33-years of his life to the US military, I'm disgusted at the fact that they have discarded him like a bag of garbage.  He gets 10% disability for hearing loss, and nothing for the brain and heart damage that are clearly related to his exposure to hazardous materials in a classified CIA operation in which the government denies he had any part, despite official military documents that prove otherwise.

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Christine Kennard, Health Pro
6/22/12 5:39am

Dear Scott

 

I am so sorry to hear that you, your father and your family are having to cope with so much. It is very hard when a previously fit, strong and healthy man becomes so disabled at such a young age. Your father's case highlights the problems and gaps in provision of care for this group of people in nursing care homes and, often in hospitals too. It is very distressing.

 

I have no answers for you. You are obviously fighting on your father's corner and he is very, very lucky to have you and your Mom to act as advocates.

 

Have you sought your local politicians help and talked to you local Alzheimer's Association to see if they can offer any ideas on where to go with this?

 

Christine

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Scott, Community Member
6/23/12 11:11pm
Hi Christine, I have filed complaints with DADS and the ACLU. DADS cited and fined one of the skilled nursing facilities after an unannounced audit of the facility, based on my complaint. I have not heard from the ACLU. We have contacted all of the skilled nursing facilities, mental health facilities, and assisted living facilities that advertise dementia care, but after milking Medicare for every penny they can get, they discharge him and offer no solutions other than over-drugging him to keep him bedridden. I am convinced that the entire health care system in Texas and Louisiana is unprepared for dementia patients, and those that advertise dementia care only do so with the intention of stealing money from Medicare. I have no respect for the US military or the health care system. As far as I'm concerned, dad is better off with no care at all. Reply
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
6/22/12 7:53am

Hi Scott,

My heart is with you. My own dad suffered a close head injury during WWII and only got a 10% disability well into his 70s! He needed surgery and that sent him into instant dementia. I'm telling you this just to relate that I understand how sickening this is for you and your family to see that your dad isn't getting what he deserves. I wish I had a magic answer for you, but all I can say is keep trying. With the influx of so many disabled younger veterans now, it's only going to get harder to get the help that these people deserve. 

I do hope continued vigilance gets you more help. I ended up giving up because the emotional toll it takes on those fighting for help is huge. Please keep in touch about your dad. We'd like to know how he (and you and your mom) are doing.

Blessings,

Carol

 

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Scott, Community Member
6/23/12 11:13pm
Hi Carol, Yes, all the reading I have done on the subject of dementia care leads me to believe that the level of care that dad has received (which amounts to basically none) is the norm. The healthcare system is unequipped, unprepared, and uninterested in caring for people with dementia. Reply
Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
6/24/12 5:58am

And our veterans aren't getting the help they were promised - especially when it comes to mental health. I know good people are working on this, but that doesn't help you. My heart is with you,

Carol

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Scott, Community Member
7/ 9/12 3:47pm

An update for anyone interested:

 

Dad died on Friday, July 6th from complications associated with his dementia.  Dozens of doctors were baffled by his symptoms, but we elected to not request an autopsy, so we will never know exactly what happened to him. 

 

Dad will receive full military burial honors, thanks fo VFW 8535 in Henderson, TX.  Although his DD-214 form details the Vietnam Service Medal, which we're told is only awarded to veterans who were on Vietnam soil, the VA refused to acknowledge his status as a Vietnam Veteran.  Since his deployments to Thailand were classified, the Vietnam Service Medal is all we have to prove his service in Vietnam.

 

A few tidbits:  

 

During his deployment in Thailand, dad was assigned an embassy ID under the umbrella of Air America as a humanitarian mission, and his military ID was confiscated for covert missions into Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  His job was to repair or dismantle downed aircraft to cover up military flights into restricted areas.  The Air Force continues to deny these flights ever happened.

 

Dad served full-time as a crew chief for the New Mexico Air National Guard with the 150th Fighter Group.  His plane had the highest number of flight hours in the Guard, and won Top Gun at the 1989 and 1991 Gunsmoke competitions.

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Scott, Community Member
7/ 9/12 3:49pm

An update for anyone interested:

 

Dad died on Friday, July 6th from complications associated with his dementia.  Dozens of doctors were baffled by his symptoms, but we elected to not request an autopsy, so we will never know exactly what happened to him. 

 

Dad will receive full military burial honors, thanks fo VFW 8535 in Henderson, TX.  Although his DD-214 form details the Vietnam Service Medal, which we're told is only awarded to veterans who were on Vietnam soil, the VA refused to acknowledge his status as a Vietnam Veteran.  Since his deployments to Thailand were classified, the Vietnam Service Medal is all we have to prove his service in Vietnam.

 

A few tidbits:  

 

During his deployment in Thailand, dad was assigned an embassy ID under the umbrella of Air America as a humanitarian mission, and his military ID was confiscated for covert missions into Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam.  His job was to repair or dismantle downed aircraft to cover up military flights into restricted areas.  The Air Force continues to deny these flights ever happened.

 

Dad served full-time as a crew chief for the New Mexico Air National Guard with the 150th Fighter Group.  His plane had the highest number of flight hours in the Guard, and won Top Gun at the 1989 and 1991 Gunsmoke competitions.

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Dr. Osborne, Community Member
7/ 9/12 12:09pm

Dear Debra:

 

Personally, I am not sure; however, VA benefits are based on evidence and that can be hard to come by.  The 14 diseases that are presumptively caused by exposure to toxic defolliants were determined by the National Institutes of Health and they have stated on more than one occasion that there is no demonstable links between AO exposure and mental or cognitive decline.  However, while your Dad may not be eligible for Service Connected benefits, be may well be eligible for Non-Service Connected benefits (pension.)  In many cases Pension can actually provide a better benefit and, as far as health concerns, memory decline is a perfectly acceptable diagnosis.  Since you mention AO exposure, I assume your Dad is a VN vet so the military service requirement shouldn't be a problem.  Check into VA Pension benefits and there may very well be some assistance available.

 

Dr. Glenn Osborne

Center for Elder Veterans Rights

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
9/24/12 8:00am

Thank you for your help, Dr. Osborne. It's wonderful to know that there are people available to help our aging veterans apply for the benefits they deserve.

Carol

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Carol Bradley Bursack, Health Guide
9/24/12 8:00am

Thank you for your help, Dr. Osborne. It's wonderful to know that there are people available to help our aging veterans apply for the benefits they deserve.

Carol

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aethomasthomas, Community Member
12/21/12 3:05pm

When he was in Vietnam, he was exposed. Vietnam Veterans are dying every day from all sorts of exposure, but the VA will not admit it. Get a lawyer like Woods and Woods who charge a percentage of the first claim amount. There are other lawyers like this. I tried doing it for 8 years without a lawyer and got no where. They haven'nt won it yet, but it is the next natural step. The VA will not pay with out being hammered, if he is'nt near death!

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By Debra, Community Member— Last Modified: 12/12/13, First Published: 06/28/10