Why didn’t my doctor tell me? — or who’s taking care of the Alzheimer’s?

This is the question my mother asked when the physical therapist left my parents’ house yesterday after working with my dad for about 45 minutes. “Why didn’t Dr. R ever tell me your dad might benefit from physical therapy?” she asked.

Gee. I don’t know. Maybe he was too busy prescribing antibiotics, inhalers and cough medicine.

In Dr. R’s defense, after the initial diagnostic appointment when my dad started having noticeable memory problems and a neurologist was consulted, an MRI done, and ultimately Aricept prescribed, my parents never really sought medical advice about the Alzheimer’s. And apparently, over the several visits they made to the doctor’s office for one thing or the other, the topic never came up.

In truth, it never seemed like Dr. R was monitoring Dad’s Alzheimer’s treatment nearly as well as he was monitoring his cholesterol levels.

It’s like the walker Mom bought for Dad at the medical supply store where they have been good customers for years. No one explained to her how high the handles of the walker should be. She just brought it home and Dad started using it.

Yesterday when the physical therapist was there helping my dad walk around the house with the walker, he asked, “Did someone raise these handles on purpose?”


“Handles should be the height of the wrist of the person when they are standing upright with their arms down at their sides,” he said.

Dad’s handles were about five inches too high. Sometimes I feel like we are wandering around in a fog.

The medical industry is not kind to people who try to be self-sufficient.

In an earlier post I wrote, “Sometimes when we try to get help for Dad I feel like we are a ball in a bumper pool game. One professional evaluates and then bumps us to the next.”

Dad’s been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s for nearly three years now. It just seems like someone, somewhere along the way might have pointed us in a forward direction every now and then. Fortunately, we finally bumbled our way into the visiting physician, which led us to the visiting nurses, who set us up with the physical therapist, who believes he can help Dad improve his walking and movement. Who knew?

Time will tell, I suppose. And we will have to keep up with the exercises or Dad will backslide. But at least we have a small hope that one of these things afflicting Dad may turn around and start getting better instead of worse. I say, “Halleluia.”

Mom says, “Why didn’t anyone tell us before now?”

December 2010 — My dad uses his walker (before proper height adjustment) to visit family gravesites.