Skip to comments.Dealing with Dementia - - Asking for FR experience, advice
Posted on 04/05/2010 11:59:18 AM PDT by Loud Mime
I am taking care of elderly parents; Mom does OK, but Dad has dementia and it is starting to cause other problems.
This thread is posted in order to ask for advice and tips from other freepers. There's a wealth of knowledge on this forum.
From what I have read, the medical community seems split on the question of dementia causing excessive sleep, or that excessive sleep causes dementia. I have noted that after Dad is up for some time and active, his mind is sharper....he remembers things that happened. Therefore, I'm inclined to believe the latter theory.
If I leave him to his own actions, he will spend 20 hours a day in bed - almost all of in sleep.
Getting him to do things is another labor, but I've learned something. I propose the minimum, such as "You do not have to take a full shower, but you need to wash off and towell off." Once in the shower his old habits take over and he's fully clean. He does not remember the previous instruction.
We no longer go for a walk, which is "work." Instead, we go shopping.
Any other tips or experiences?
“Dealing with Dementia - - Asking for FR experience, advice”
Well, first thing...
Nevermind, I forgot.
Bump to follow the discussion. My Mom is going down this terrible path.
No advice, but I will pray for all involved.
Seek help from your father’s insurance. Get in-home help. Look into elder day-care.
Be sure to take care of yourself and your immediate family.
If your father is anything like my father, that’s what he would want.
Has he been checked for depression? The excessive sleeping can be a sign. Depression and dementia can feed off of each other.
You should have him see a geriatrics expert. Sometimes a small AM dose of methylphenidate/Ritalin will help people focus. He might also try one of the meds aimed at slowing Alzheimers.
I have worked with people with psychosis, taken care of family with dementia and talked quite a few people down from bad acid trips and the one thing they have in common is that they need to be reassured about their safety, and their environment.
When they are confused, you need to remind them of where they are, who you are and the time and year and of course that they are safe. Find an object that they associate with security, a stuffed animal, a picture, etc.
And to get them to go places and do things, you need to be very matter of fact about it and do not offer them options. It is very much like dealing with a three year old child.
You are the parent now and they are the child.
My father is sharper early in the day. As the day wears on, he becomes less engaging, more confused.
But he’s up early and then early to bed.
My father-in-law suffered from this and succumbed to it after a little over 5 years. I have seen the progression. You need to start planning. Medicine for this is primarily experimental or of unknown assistance. Even still, medication at this point only promises to slow down the progression, but even that is open to debate.
Best to you. It is difficult, but it is a blessing that you are there to care, or direct the care, of your parents.
Bookmarking for future reference.
Similar situation for me, but your dad sounds quite a bit worse than mine. Last Cristmas, my dad really lost his temper with my brother over something trivial and I’ve been kind of worried ever since. Today he fell down trying to chase the neighborhood cat away from the bird feeder. He does childish things sometimes.
If they prescribe steroids be careful. two people I know went on MAJOR spending sprees due to the side affects of the steroids.
Multiple cars, computers, stocks on margin, etc. Mania, delusions of grandeur, and of course tendency to spend gobs of money.
Seriously, Loud mime, I don’t envy you. I’ve done it myself, for my parents, years ago. There’s no easy solution, and it sounds like you are doing things as well as can be expected, you’re patient, and that is probably the best thing you can do. Your parents are lucky to have you.
Geez, I wish I had the answer. I have an uncle with it...
Look on a site dedicated to Alzheimers, because they two seem to be correlated, and they often have the latest news of treatment options, as well as things you can do to keep their minds sharp.
Good luck, will pray for you both.
Anthing you can do to stimulate his intellect will be beneficial. Card playing, reading magazine articles, particularly about events from his life, having him makes lists, and the like can be beneficial in my experience.
I am a firm believer in a schedule -— alarm in the AM, get going, do something structured.
Work, water aerobics (my mom), whatever.
Sorry to hear about your Dad. I’ve volunteered at a local Senior Center for several years. We have a few dementia and Alzheimer’s Seniors. Their spouses and/or children bring them in and each of them seems to have a passion for something. We have a weekly sing-along and one of our ladies is a beautiful singer...she knows every word to every song, but she can’t tell you her husband’s name. One of our elderly gentlemen is a real card shark, but can’t find his own way home.
If there is a Senior Center in your area, check it out. Getting these folks to do something different and socialize on a daily basis can make a huge difference in their overall well being.
There is a book that has a lot of information about this and other brain activity. I watched it on PBS one night and ordered the book the next day.
Dr Amen gives supplements and diet that may work. I will look up his suggestions in the book for you.
The book is “Change Your Brain Change Your Body” http://www.amenclinics.com/cybcyb/
Then Dr Wright has done some research on a supplement found in tomatoes, lithium. Not the prescription dosage but the supplement dosage. Also know to protect the brain if someone has a stroke.
and I’m convinced that lithium is an anti-aging nutrient for human brains. And there are also some very strong reasons to believe that lithium therapy will slow the progression of serious degenerative mental problems, including Alzheimer’s disease, senile dementia, and Parkinson’s disease.
You would have to have any supplements cleared by the physician of course. Which may be your biggest battle ever.
Someone here mentions depression. Dr Amen also talks about that.
Same with my Mom. She’s more “with it” in the mornings. As the day wears on, or she gets ‘stressed’ the forgetfullness kicks in.
Excessive sleeping is also apparent, though I’m having her checked for depression as well.
I give her as little choice as possible when it comes to doing things. Keep it positive.
Can your father take this test?
That was an easy one. You could have done better!
I can say that it’s better to initiate treatment as early as possible. Some medications ( Aricept for example) can slow the progression of the disease considerably, but time is of the essence as it cannot regain any “mental ground” so to speak-which has already been lost. I will keep you in my prayers. I understand what you are going through, because my grandmother suffered from dementia for the last six years of her life. We cared for her in home as a family.
Here’s my personal story: If he’s on a statin medication for cholesterol, take him off it immediately. My mother-in-law was diagnosed with dementia. She was getting really bad, she would sit and stare and was non-communicative. She was always very social. We took her off her statin medication and started her on weekly vitamin B shots (tiny, thin needle-you can barely feel the shot) which cost about $5.00 for a rather large bottle so it’s extremely inexpensive. It’s like night and day! She is doing so much better and carries on conversations with us again.
There’s a lot on the internet about this Transient Global Amnesia and it’s relation to statins (Lipitor). Here’s a webpage by a former NASA astronaut, Dr. Duane Graveline, that experienced it himself.
depressions comes with the territory, I would think.
Dad knows enough to know he’s not thinking clearly, and this embarrasses him.
And when we have to correct him or give him instructions he is further embarrassed.
I also think that if he is engaged in conversation, or cross word puzzles or some mental activity, he stays sharper.
I’m not trying to accuse your dad of anything and I know good, honest people can get dementia but has anyone noticed a quicker onset to someone who would frequently lie? I’m just curious because, well, my mother in law . . .
A colleague of mine has begun physical therapy, home nursing and a nutritionist for her husband and it’s still very tough to keep her head above water (so to speak). He doesn’t know whether it’s day or night, dresses and undresses repeatedly and is very uncooperative. I pray that you can get some assistance.
First of all, I would get him on a “fancy” B-12 vitamin. One of the expensive ones. I am on B-12 due to chemo (chemo brain). It is the same issue, same disconnected receptors. B-12 repairs this. Next, I would get my parent into a clinical trial. There are numerous new drugs being tested — most based in B-12 — that are being found to not only slow the process, but turn it around. You won’t have access to them for years unless you’re in a clinical trial. Do some homework online and talk to the doctor. If your doctor is unaware, find one who is keeping current. This is an exciting time in this field of research and there is help. Find a clinical trial. Start by Googling “B-12 Dementia” or “Dementia ‘clinical trial’”. You should get some bits of info there to get you started.
I went through this with my Mom. Thankfully when the time came, she was able to take up residence in her home town nursing home, where everyone knew her and she received excellent care.
The one piece of advice I have is to keep him on a schedule and KEEP HIM BUSY. THINKING.... DOING.... whatever....
“An idle mind is the devil’s workshop.... and the devil’s name is alzheimers”......
Lifting your family up in prayer.
I agree. First thing you need to do is see a geriatric expert.
#1 Be sure you have all exits in house secured because one day they probably will decide to leave on their own and it could be at 3 a.m. I had alarm system when doors opened.
#2 Don't expect them to be rational, i.e., if you go to Red Lobster because they like the popcorn shrimp there and once there, they will only order carrot cake---let them eat cake!
#3 Go with the flow...if you have a problem that won't be a problem tomorrow, it's not worth a hassle.
#4 Hide the car keys
#5 Never ever forget that most of the time they don't have a care in the world!
If you have not done so already, I suggest you contact an experienced elder-care attorney in your area right away. The following documents will greatly aid in your being able to provide continuous care and oversight of your parents, without any need for government intrusion.
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Health Care Surrogate
- HIPAA Release (gives you access to their medical records)
My husband and I have had less success with his parents in seeing the need for these documents. My in-laws do not see the danger in becoming incapacitated or incompetent, and not having provided a way for others to pay the bills, write the checks, confer with the doctors, etc. Unfortunately, they still feel that having a "Will" and long-term care insurance is all they need to provide for their care.
Bottom line ... get some good elder-care legal advice.
That worked pretty well for about 3 years as we strived to get things more and more regimented. We found that if she had a plan for the day she maintained a good attitude. Keep in mind that NOTHING we did stemmed the progression of memory loss.
After 3 years we moved her to an assisted living facility that specialized in dementia patients. She still has her own apartment but aides come by to handle medication, check on general hygiene and wellness, etc. They provide activities and meals as well as structure for her and an unbiased set of eyes and ears for us.
As the disease progresses I HIGHLY RECOMMEND that you make decisions that include your own mental health. Dementia patients, as you probably know, can easily take up every last bit of your time. There are also feelings of guilt and helplessness. It's easy to feel guilty when a loved one says they miss you 2 hours after you spent the entire day with them shopping and having lunch. It's easy to feel helpless when you get (literally) 20 phone calls asking the same question over a 2 hour period.
I know that it may seem harsh to put a loved one in the care of someone else but, if it is at all possible, doing so provides them with the day to day care that they need, provides them with some semblance of independence, and provides you with the opportunity to enjoy their company without the gut wrenching frustration of being 100% tied to an emotional roller coaster.
So much depends on the type and cause of the dementia. Not all dementia is the same.
Statins can take memory away. They are often worthless too. Niacin, Omega 3, exercise and healthy diet. http://bit.ly/acqAbO
Types of Memory
Understanding and Treating Memory Loss
Medical Tests to Consider to Evaluate Memory Problems
Supplements That May Be Helpful to Enhance Memory
Get him on Aricept. I was amazed at the difference in my father after getting him on it. I took care of him from 2003 to 2009 and after a while the Aricept will wear off, but it can work for a long time. Not to mention the interest in cleanliness that seemed to come back. My poor father lived alone and when I would pick him to go to the doctor, he would smell to high heaven. After the Aricept, he still needed prodding, but he at least took an interest in bathing again.
If you have any questions, please feel free to Freepmail me. I went down the whole path with him and it’s a ride, that’s for sure.
Sorry to hear about your father’s failing health.
I’d guess that in his state of mind, he wakes up, sees himself in bed, and thinks that he should still be sleeping.
Can he still read a clock? Try putting a large wall clock on the bedroom wall where he can see it. A window with an eastern exposure will also allow in the cue of the rising sun.
My sister has it and her eyesight is failing. she worked in a defense plant during WWII.
I’m going through dementia/Alzheimers with both my parents. My Mother went through a difficult period, while she was still living at home, when she became angry and suspicious. She would hide things and forget where she put them, then accuse everyone of stealing and trying to get her things/money/car. After it got intolerable, her doctor put her on some behavioral meds that made a huge difference. Believe me, it is better to have her pleasant and a little spaced out than being hostile. You may find some of this behavior with your Father, when he resents taking a bath or medicines. Like others have said, you are now the parent and you just have to do what has to be done, just as you would with a child. May God grant you peace and success in dealing with these old age issues.
Another thing to check is whether your father communicates better, or is reported to communicate better, with certain people than with others. Especially if the “others” are yourself. I had the very aggravating situation of an elderly aunt who would become incoherent in my presence, about the same time that a very pushy neighbor began to dominate her life. Since you’re around your father all the time this might be unlikely to be happening before your eyes, but there are a few people who can and will take unfair advantage of an elderly person losing his or her mind.
My husband (who was much older than me) began his trip down Alzheimer’s Lane by exhibiting major changes in his personal and grooming habits. He quit shaving his neck, and combed his hair straight forward, instead of off to the side. He let his nails grow long, and quit showering.
The shower was the hardest part (along with the incontinence) to deal with. He became combative when I tried to shower him every three or four days. I had to have someone with me, for fear he would attack me. (He had always been a very gentle man.)
I finally had to have a professional care-giver come twice a week to shower him, and it was always a fight.
He started two microwaves on fire, would open the door in the middle of the night, and leave it open, he constantly turned on the airconditioner to it’s coldest, then turned the heat all the way up.
I found that the best way to handle the situation was to let him know he was safe. And I always kept him well groomed, as they DO have ‘moments’ of cognizance. I wanted him to know that he was being well cared for.
The incontinance was the hardest (and the longest) part of his illness, and became a twice a day occurance. I had to have carpet cleaners here every week, and had to have
carpet removed in the bedroom, with linoleum installed.
I could not leave him with a care-giver as he trusted no one but me, and would be combative with them.
This illness is so painful to watch in it’s progression. Every day they seem to lose a little bit more of who they are.
I recommend becoming an Alzheimer’s Caregiver, as you will learn many ways to deal with unsuspecting problems, as they arise.
Finally, you might want to try singing instead of talking. For some reason, it seems easier for them to comprehend a melodious tone, rather than speech.
Good luck, FRiend. The road ahead is long and hard.
I don’t know where you live but look up the Granite Falls Memory Care Center in Granite Falls, NC. The Neurologist is the founder of the memory care center @ Duke University(he left Duke for Western NC). He’s the best. People from all over the country travel to see him at this location. I know neurologist who send there patients to him when they can’t deal with them anymore. Good Luck. God Bless!!
What FrdLvr said is very important. Start with eliminating meds and go on to add the vitamins. It's worth a good try before you diagnose severe dementia.
PS..do so under the Doctors supervision..:)
Sounds like you are being very creative with your father. That will serve you well. Prayers up for you. I went through this with my dear mother.
It is difficult when you have to become the parent to your parent, but there is a certain joy in being able to care for them yourself. I hope you will be able to keep them at home and not have to put them in a facility.
Maybe some useful tips...
He needs to be in an environment with a group of people who will keep him on his toes. Group enforcement will jog is brain some. For rest time he should be made to read the Bible. Also check his thyroid functions and infuse him with vitamin B and Folic acid. This stuff is related to brain metabolics. Reduce any kind of empty entertainment like TV or sex or pain over-medication. Make him write or draw, as it is both physical and mental.
My Dad keeps acting like he’s back to being a fighter pilot, when he used to impress the ladies to no end.
Dealing with humor: When we were in ‘Vegas I took him to a “gentlemen’s club.” He had a lot of fun, but didn’t remember it twenty minutes later. The last time we went to ‘vegas I decided to save money. We went to the casino and a good tip got one of the cocktail waitresses to chat him up for a time; later I told him that we went to the G-club. It was far cheaper and he still had fun.
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