Thursday, June 10, 2010

Emphasyma & lack of oxygen can cause confusion & seems like early dementia

Lately I've noticed my brother (18 years older than me) struggling to make sense of basic details and I fear that emphysema limits his ability to get enough oxygen. He seems confused easily; he has difficulty remembering conversations, newer businesses around town and where he put things.  He seems less able to understand basic issues related to his medicare coverage and banking.  He is also struggling to breath after even the most limited activity, like walking up a few steps or to the mail box on level ground.    He was diagnosed with COPD - Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a less scary term than emphysema - last year.  He was surprised at the diagnosis though it was clear to those around him for a long time.  He's been a heavy smoker since age 19, worked around all sorts of chemicals and vapors and has bad allergies.  I believe his confusion is caused by a lack of oxygen due to his severly diminshed lung capacity.   If he can't get much air into his lungs, he can't get much oxygen into his blood stream.

He went for some breathing tests last week and said they want to do more tests.  I urged  him to follow through and not to be afraid to discuss using oxygen or a small oxygen concentrator  especially when he goes out.   I looked him straight in the eye and said, "It's better to use oxygen and be able to get around the store yourself instead of waiting for someone to do shopping for you."  We can't have direct conversations about his condition - or failing condition.  He just ignores me or he gets angry and leaves, so this indirect approach must suffice. I can't lead him to water, so to speak.  If he doesn't realize that he's ill, that he's become severely limited, I won't push it. To do so might be too cruel.  It might mean he passes away sooner than later but it's his choice. Deep inside I trust he knows something is wrong and perhaps he doesn't want anything that will prolong his life and his struggle.

Death and emphysema? Death from emphysema. Does emphysema cause dementia? Does emphysema cause alzheimers disease?