Both of my parents' death certificates cited the cause of death as organic brain disease, which basically means dementia . They each had dementia, though each of them suffered from a significantly different type.
Dad's was dramatic. It was the result of surgery that was supposed to prevent the mental decline he would eventually suffer as a result of a World War II brain injury. Something went wrong in the surgery, and he came out of that surgery totally demented.
Mom's dementia was a more general type, which included memory loss and declining ability to make sense of things, but she did not have Alzheimer's disease or vascular dementia.
When I looked at the certificates, I was a bit surprised to find organic brain disease listed as cause of death. I was aware at the time that Alzheimer's was considered terminal, as the body slowly weakens and "forgets" how to function. But I didn't consider that my parents would die from their dementia - especially my mother.
I have spent eight years promoting the importance of early diagnosis and treatment of dementia and am certain that misinformation, denial, and untrained GP’s are still the biggest factors preventing families from getting elderly loved ones properly evaluated. The mild and intermittently odd behaviors that gradually increase year after year continue to get chalked up to advancing age and nothing more. And even when it becomes very apparent that something is wrong, families delay dealing with it, because it is scary for them to think about end of life issues. And then when something major happens and the GP finally sees the senior about it for ten minutes (“What day is it? What time is it? Who is the governor?”), that day the elder is often sharp as a tack.
I spent a year taking my elderly father to doctors who weren’t trained on how to uncover early-stage dementia, namely Alzheimer’s. Once I finally got to the right doctors (a team of ne...
Last week I said that if I had only been shown the “Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease,” I would have understood what was happening to my parents and helped them a year sooner. This week I want to go over the signs with you, so you don’t make the mistake I made and assume that your loved one’s intermittent and illogical and irrational behaviors are simply a normal part of aging. (Reprinted with permission of the Alzheimer’s Association) The Alzheimer’s Association says that some change in memory is normal as we grow older, but the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease are more than simple lapses in memory. People with AD experience difficulty communicating, learning, thinking and reasoning--severe enough to have an impact on work, social activities and family life. 1. Memory loss : One of the most common early signs of dementia is forgetting recently learned information. While it’s normal to forget appointments, names or telephone numbers, those with dementia will forget such things mor...
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