Friday, August 22, 2014

The Clock Test

My Mom had her Memory Care appointment this week and I drove over on Wednesday to attend. These appointments are not only incredibly informative but also healing for my father and I. We soak up every word of advice the doctors and nurses give us and sometimes wish the appointment would last for hours as we have so many stories and "what-if" scenarios we would like to discuss. We are very thankful we have this resource up in Western North Carolina.

We split up when we arrive and Mom goes to get her "tests" done while Dad and I sit in a conference room. These tests range from things such as trying to recall the President, name 5 animals, name the schools you have gone to, fold a piece of paper, and to draw a clock. 

The Dr came into the room where my father and I were waiting and started to go over Mom's results. Her inability to communicate seems to be the fastest decline we have seen yet. She can still somewhat carry on a conversation but there a lot of "you know what I mean" and "you know, that word that means _____" and phrases such as "Do you like my _________ that I just got". She finally comes up with the word lights but she means glasses. 

But the test that really showed the progression of her Alzheimer's was the Clock Test. Her Dr. showed us her clock from Wednesday and it was blank with a few marks in the upper corner. We just sat there silently. The arthritis in her fingers might have a little bit to do with it but when forced to she can try to write. 

He then showed us her clock from last November. This clock was completely filled out.....not exactly spaced perfectly, but had all the correct numbers.

Staring at her clock from this appointment and her clock from a year ago sent my father and I into tears. We were staring at Alzheimer's on paper. We know Alzheimer's. We kiss, hug, cook for, take shopping, and talk to Alzheimer's. But to see it on paper was staggering.

When we left the appointment Mom asked me if the Dr said she was going to get worse. It took everything in me not to start crying again and I just told her that yes, Alzheimer's does get worse, but that we are working with Memory Care to use medicines and safeguards to make her feel stable and happy. That answer seemed to please her until she asked several times again the next day. You see, she used to work in Long Term Care. I think she knows in her heart it will get worse but I'm hoping that by going to these appointments and adding vitamins and her seeing we are making changes will help her believe she can at least fight it.

Because that is all we can do. Put our hope in medicine and pray

We are in Stage 5 now. There are only 7. We know there is no silver lining or easy path ahead. We are very thankful for our family and friends that continue to help Mom (and us) and treat her as a friend and the wonderful woman that she still is.


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