Dear Hope Floats: I can't give you answers either, I can only share a little of my experience. Both my Paternal Grandmother, and her son, my Father, were/are afflicted with Alz. Both began to show signs quite early, like around age 50 -55. I first noticed my gramma when I was in my twenties, she would talk about the "little people who came at night and moved everything around, so she couldn't find stuff'. I tried to pin her down on it, did she mean the grandchildren, "heavens, no" says she, these are evil little folk who come when I'm asleep, the grandchildren, are always asleep then, too". what it was, of course, was she was burrying things, hiding things in odd places like flour in bathroom hamper, that sort of thing. She was always kind and pleasant, except she reserved her anger for the little folk. Her husband lived to be 94, and took care of her right till about six months before he died, when we got services in for her. She lived another two years dying at 92. At the final stage, the worst of her symptoms were quite playful. She would wait till someone wasn't looking and steal food off of their plates. Keeps xmas and Thanksgiving interesting.
My Dad, he began letting my stepmother take over everything at around age 55. He began to tell the same stories over and over again. He began misplacing things. The biggest problem was, he was phobic of doctors and it was hard to pin down what was really going on. He continued to deteriorate, at an uneven pace, like he'd become more and more forgetful, then he'd have times when he seemed very much his old self. He is currently in a fairly modern facility which allows dementia patients free range of the facility, my choice, big time. I took care of him myself the last 2.5 years before placement, placement was by the Police and local Adult protection agency, b/c he was becoming combative and after three police involvements, they put him in for 72 hours observation, and was then transferred directly to a facility. I had imput into which facility, I was given several choices. Come to find out this past February, he has a golf ball sized tumour sitting in his head putting pressure on his amyglia. Ergo, the acting out, intimidating, aggressive behavior. Because he feared doctors so much, he refused the Cat scan ordered two years prior, otherwise they might have caught it earlier. I don't think that would preclude the alz. however, he would still have dementia, regardless of the tumour.
My Dad is happy where he is. There are lots of men in that facility, and he is very popular b/c he is really hilarious, always was, and they all follow him around waiting for what will come out of his mouth next. He is in the best possible situation. i can get to him in twenty-five minutes and tend to all his needs, pay his bills, etc. It is a difficult but rewarding journey, many run away from it. I don't recommend that course of action. Come here, get all the supports you can, cry alot, beg a lot, be firm with authorities, you are his advocate. They are making great progress with managing alz. the only thing to fear is fear itself.