speedster46 Asked July 2010

What is the best way to communicate with my father who has dementia and forgets how to do everything?

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My biggest concern is the best way to communicate on a daily basis with a father with dementia. He forgets how to do everything.

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Eddie Jul 2010
NAHEATON:

D'oh!!! ... Sorry for going off-thread. I should have posted my comment on your wall. Anyway, no biggie. Everyone here probably feels the way I do. Have to go. My screechy grandkids are tormenting the cat again.
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Eddie Jul 2010
NAHEATON:

You are an absolute scream! I love your uncompromising "it is what it is" attitude and your ability to weed out the BS and see things for what they really are. Your posts are candid, straight to the point, and funny. ... Thanks for making me laugh.

-- ED
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SoAlone Jul 2010
My dad was always clear thinking and had a very good memory. He went into a nursing home because he had lost most his eyesight and had had a stroke. But he was recovering from the stroke. He really had not problems other than his sight and his LACK OF MOTIVATION to actually get up and eat or do anything. Plus he had dream / wake confusion.
He had no bathroom issues other than danger of falling.

Then he went into a VA Home. They gave him cold and allergy medications just things like Robitussim DM, or cough medicine and he became very confused, fell, etc.... My dad cannot take these types of medications and he never did. When I asked if they had changed his meds or anything it was NO, no changes. Well after three trips to the hospital he was finally admitted, given Haldol, went completely nuts and since then they began him on anti-psychs, anti-depressants, alzheimers, etc... It was crazy. We all thought dad had had a bad stroke. but it was the cold and allergy medications and then the Haldol. All of which cause confusion and dementia (for my dad).

Finally I asked for copies of all his medical records and I could see exactly what happened. All his confusion and "dementia" started with the allergy medications. I got him admitted to the hospital after they did this a second time and got all the medications removed.

He is now back to normal mentally but he suffered some injuries during that time period he was drugged and is now off his feet. He is more depressed now because he knows what they did to him and it is hard not to be angry. He has allergy, cold, antihistimines, pseudephedrine, all as allergies because he has such a bad reaction to them but they gave them anyway and they consider these medications so harmless they said there were NO changes to me,, even as he was going downhill and they were plying him with strong cough medicine 3 times a day.

I think this is called NMS when you have a strong reaction to these kinds of over the counter and other drugs. My dad reacts by confusion, then hallucinations, then fever, then complete almost coma.

He got really bad again last month and I had to get a current copy to see what had happened and they had started him on a allergy NASAL spray.... well duh... no wonder he was looney again. stopped the spray and 2 days later he was clear again.

So yes we have stopped these kinds of medications and seen a big improvement. in my dad's case the dementia was drug induced in the first place.
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fiabanes Jul 2010
Has anyone tried reducing / eliminating the antipsychotic meds (risperdal, razadyne, depakote) for a few days to see if verbal communication skills come back?
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MiaMadre Jul 2010
Here is another summary from a trusted website.

http://www.caregiver.org/caregiver/jsp/content_node.jsp?nodeid=391

Plenty of great information on this site as well!
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NancyH Jul 2010
I already have the attention span of a gnat, so when I get really old and demented, I'll already be half way there when trying to communicate with people. (My son comes by his ADHD honestly I can tell you) That could be a good thing for those that are used to talking to me and trying to keep me focused on what they're saying. :)
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MiaMadre Jul 2010
As I was attempting to compose some sage advise based on my five years of experience with my mother, I came back and saw Ed's post (bravo) (I have added my notes in parenthesis for further clarification).

Since (most people) with dementia may have limited attention spans, they may find it difficult to follow long conversations. (Keep informational conversation short and sweet).

Persons with dementia may (get creative while) attempt(ing) to describe an object that they cannot remember or create a word to describe the object. (Take notes of the 'replacement' words they use in a notebook or index cards).

Since persons with dementia are only able to focus on one thought at a time, multiple step instructions may lead to confusion. (Simplify steps as much as you can. Don't expect someone with dementia to remember ALL the steps)

Short term memory problems often lead persons with dementia to lose their train of thought or to repeat thoughts again and again. They may quickly forget what they did said or did quickly. (Don't correct them, unless they are in harm's way) (As long as the task gets completed, and no one is harmed, it will maintain their pride and interest in trying).

Background distractions such as television, noise or nearby conversations can compete for attention and impair conversations and communication. (Keep distractions at a minimum will help keep those with dementia calmer too!)

Persons with dementia usually need much more time that the average person to respond to a question (or complete a task). Staff and family caregivers must be patient, allowing enough time to process questions and formulate responses that work. (Try NOT to correct them if you understand what they are doing, or are intending to do).

Communication challenges and the resulting frustrations may cause many of the difficult behaviors that commonly occur in persons with dementia. (What seems like a VERY ornery person, may just be just someone who really is not understanding what is expected).

Persons with dementia may have additional hearing or visions difficulty that (will FURTHER) impair their (ability to communicate) or communication ability.
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Eddie Jul 2010
SPEED:

I "lifted" this information from a website. Maybe you can find it useful:

Imagine yourself being out with some friends of yours. It happens to be that they are all highly intellectual stockbrokers and they are talking the entire time about things you don't understand. When they do this for some time you probably get distracted and you stop following their conversation. This is exactly the same thing that happens to people with dementia. When family comes by and all start talking to them, they can't concentrate on the people who are talking at the same time. The have lost the ability to fully concentrate. Eventually they get distracted and start doing something else. How to remedy?

You should always talk one at a time to someone who is demented. You should also speak a bit slower than you are used to. It helps to look at the person, talk slow and clear. If you have doubts he is understanding it, try it again or use some other words. People with dementia often have speech and understanding impairment and by that they will not understand all what you are saying. If you keep this in mind it probably helps coping with dementia.
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