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early onset of alzheimer's
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nhsgrace posted:
My father who is 61 was recently "diagnosed" with sundowners syndrome. No official diagnosis of alzheimer's yet but his paternal grandmother had it. I am very concerned for obvious reasons but it seems to be progressing quite rapidly. He becomes very emotional and forgetful in the evening, often completely forgetting phone calls and messages that he has had with me the evening before. Recently, he "got lost" in my parents house and started yelling for my mother. He seems to be completely normal during the day, but at night he turns into a different person. I know that there is no absolute certain pattern of progression, but generally speaking, how do cases like this typically progress?
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cjh1203 responded:
I'm sorry about what's going on with your father. It must be so upsetting to see him that way.

Sundowner's syndrome is usually a part of Alzheimer's (or other dementia), but I have read that it can exist apart from dementia. Nobody seems to know what causes it, but theories are that it could be related to nighttime changes in hormones, fatigue or anxiety.

It sounds like your father needs to get a definite diagnosis -- if he does have Alzheimer's, there are medications that can slow the progress. There are also medications that can lessen sundowning behavior. They sometimes have bad side effects, but the benefits may outweigh the risks.

Has he seen a neurologist?

The symptoms you're describing -- forgetting things, getting lost, etc., can be symptoms of Alzheimer's, but normally those symptoms would be present during the day, too.

Judy (Dr. Judith London) will probably have more useful information for you. I hope you will keep us posted and let us know what you find out. You can also come here just for moral support, whenever you need it.

Best of luck. I hope you can get some answers soon.

Carol
 
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nhsgrace replied to cjh1203's response:
thank you Carol. He has been to a neurologist and they have run all sorts of tests. But at this point they have not formally diagnosed him with Alzheimer's or anything else except for "sundowners". The fact that his grandmother had Alzheimer's though is cause for more concern. At this point, I am trying to take stock of what I need to do emotionally to support him and my mother. I also am struggling some with what, if anything, I need to do to make sure that I get important conversations in with him in the event that this continues to develop rapidly. But I don't want to sound to foreboding or pessimistic and cause him more anxiety.
 
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cjh1203 replied to nhsgrace's response:
My heart goes out to you and your parents. The prospect of Alzheimer's is overwhelming, I know.

Even though your father hasn't had a formal diagnosis of Alzheimer's, since you suspect it, I think that joining an Alzheimer's support group could help you (and your mother) immensely. Those people are at all different points of the same road you're on, and they can offer a great deal of practical advice, encouragement and support.

I hope you will also continue to post here. It's been pretty quiet lately, but always picks up eventually. We'll help in any way we can.

Best wishes-
Carol
 
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Judith L London, PhD responded:
Hi,

It must be tough to see such changes occur .I hope your father has undergone a complete physical including blood tests for dehydration, infection and vitamin B-12 deficiency. There also is screening available for the presence of the APOEe4 mutation gene which is present in some cases of Alzheimer's, especially with onset around the age of 60.

The good news is that aerobic exercise such as walking reduces the impact of that gene, according to a recent study. I think both your parents would benefit from daily walking early in the day when your father is more himself.

Exposure to late afternoon sunshine, minimizing stimulation at the end of the day, planning relaxing activites or things he enjoys before he begins to 'lose it' may help the situation.

Depression also mimics Alzheimer's, so it's important to screen for that as well. Is he sleeping well?

Meanwhile, keep working on obtaining a diagnosis.

All of is should have financial and health directives in place, and I encourage you to have these discussions with your parents early in the day when he is more himself.

Check with www.alz.org to learn more.

I hope more is revealed in the coming days,

Judy


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