The last time my mother went to her regular physician was just before the move around February 1. She needed a checkup in order to be admitted to the nursing home. The visit was routine - heart, lungs, eye, complaints. I've been increasingly lacking confidence in this doctor, but have kept seeing him, for now, since my mother loves him.
As we walked out toward the check-out desk, I saw the doctor had written, "Alzheimer's Dementia" as a diagnosis. I didn't turn around to question him or argue, as I was eager to leave. But, I just don't agree.
I do accept that my mother has a measure of dementia. She forgets words, or what she had for lunch. She occasionally forgets names - but she does not get confused about who someone is, and, honestly, she usually remembers more names than I do. She is sharp and discerning about when someone is treating her well, or badly. She can describe incidents or issues. She does crossword puzzles when she wants to.
Is she occasionally fuzzy? Sure. But more often, she is acutely aware and oriented. She can be rude but also funny and wry. She is both sarcastic and engaged. She has curiosity and is interested in her surroundings - "What are those people doing over there" (going onto a walking path). "When is the first day of spring this year?" (today). I took her along with a group of mixed-aged friends going to the wonderful Toy and Miniature Museum in Kansas City yesterday, and she loved the outing.
Does it matter whether her records read "Alzheimer's dementia" versus "Dementia". I've honestly wondered. Am I wrong to try to get her new doctor at her new assisted living facility to adjust the diagnosis? Does it matter?
I really want to say YES! Of course it does! Not entirely because I feel protective of her, nor to imply any lessened risk to her future - or of any potential risk of my own possible Alzheimer's. And not entirely because "Alzheimer's Dementia" implies a diagnostic precision in the cause of and type of cognitive loss, one that I don't think she carries.
But I think a diagnosis of Alzheimer's carries an assumed way that a resident in assisted living will need to be treated - a way that is not matching what my mother's needs are. And it implies an impending inability to sustain residency in an assisted living facility.
At least, that's my excuse for wanting to clarify the diagnosis. And, I'm sticking to it.