A long road to help for our family

A reader tells the story of her difficulties in getting help for her husband with early stage dementia.

Editor:

I read with interest the article about early diagnosis of dementia in the March 5 edition of the Observer.

I want to briefly tell you my experience.

I first realized my husband was having cognitive problems in May 2011. My son-in-law, whose father had recently died from Alzheimer’s, advised me to document incidents.

In the fall of that year, he and I conferred and he suggested I contact my doctor with the documented evidence of my husband’s cognitive decline.

In the year between October 2011 and November 2012, I talked to three separate doctors, including my own physician.

All of them declined to talk to me since my husband wasn’t their patient and I was not willing to bring him in to talk to them. Finally, in November, my husband’s doctor agreed to take me on as a patient.

My first appointment with him was the best thing that had happened to me in 18 months.

Not only did he listen to my concerns, but he also assured me that he had a good idea what was happening and he would start the ball rolling. I sat in my van in the parking lot and cried with relief.

The diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was quick in coming, thanks to a CT scan, a series of tests carried out by the Elder Care Team and a consultation with Dr. J. Fine who heads the team.

Now my husband has medications to help him through this difficult journey, something he could have had a year before he did if I had been listened to.

But because of privacy concerns or whatever, I was led on a merry chase for more than a year. There must be a better way to deal with spouses when they are, after all, the primary caregivers.

Clearly, education is the key here: education of the public and of the physicians who serve them.

Quesnel is fortunate to have an Elder Care Team who is sensitive, caring and willing to listen to the concerns of the people who are the caregivers of dementia patients. We are also fortunate to have Leanne Jones from the Alzheimer Society, who was instrumental in starting a support group for care givers of dementia patients here in Quesnel.

This group meets once a month. If you need more information, phone Peter at 250-991-0058.

M. Miller

Quesnel

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