Denni Asked February 2012

At wit's end! How do you deal with answering the same questions over and over?

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My soon to be 88 year old father has been suffering with hives for the past couple of months. I live with him. He has dementia and it's getting worse. He refused to have me make an appointment with his pcp since he had his 3 month check up coming up within a few weeks. He would ask me repeatedly over and over what I think could be causing his hives. I would repeatedly tell him "dad, I'm not a doctor, you need to see your doctor".

I did the most thorough job I could do with medical books and the internet to try and find causes and remedies. I would go over this info with him almost each and every day only to have him ask me again the next day or two to "look up some information on that for me so I know what's going on with me".

When it finally came time for his regular checkup his doctor gave him an antihistamine shot. That didn't work so I called and spoke with the nurse a couple days later and his dr. called in a corticosteroid. He refused to take it because he believed the side effects were too serious.

It's amazing how the thought process with dementia works. I've gotten yelled at because I wanted him to take medicine that could "kill him", and the next day I never told him that the dr prescribed medicine (Same stuff) that could help him.

I've made and cancelled several appt's with a dermatologist because the one day he's decided to go to the appt. and next day he's decided not to go for a variety of reasons.

He then decided today to take the pills which you take 6 the first day in a particular order throughout the day and it decreases each day for a few days.
I've discussed the pills with him many many times over the past couple of weeks explaining what they are for and how they need to be taken. He would say "I'm not taking those pills!" The very next day he'll say "why didn't the dr. prescribe something for me"? I'll say he did and then he'll say that I never told him about the medication. This is whats I'm having great difficulty handling lately. I understand he can't help that his memory is shot. I don't know how to keep my sanity. He has always been a very difficult person to deal with. There are days I feel I can't take another day of this. I try and keep my cool since if I show any frustration even a tiny bit he chews my head off. He has much anger and frustration and I'm the only one he can take it out on.

I can't take many breaks. Siblings live out of town and he won't alow a caregiver into the home. How do all of you dealing with this sort of thing cope? Thanks much.

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Feb 2012
You'll have a lot of company on this site. understand that your dad isn't doing this on purpose, helps. However, being his only caregiver is going to stress you immensely. Does you dad have any friends who he trusts (at least for now)? Sometimes a person outside of the family can have more sway about getting people to the doctor and other issues than family members. Try this or see if his pastor or Rabbi can help. Also, check back for answers on this from others on the site. You've got plenty of company.
Take care of yourself. You will need help.
Carol
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JaneB Feb 2012
Time to tell siblings they need to step up in a bigger and actually significant way. Sibling relationships can be fraught, and it's inconvenient to travel a distance...I get that. But if you didn't live in the same place as your Dad, they'd have to travel. You need help. And my experience tells me that no one can understand until they see it.
Point them to this question, and ask them to look at the site in general for a sense of what is involved. They can't leave you alone to take care of them and your Dad anymore. It won't get easier, either. Tell them as soon as possible...don't ask if they could possibly fund a time when it wouldn't be too inconvenient to come. Say.,"I am drowning and we need a plan and some physical help NOW." good luck to you!
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karenp Feb 2012
My mother is VERY difficult at times to deal with also. This is what I have found that helps a little: figure out what he likes. For instance, my mother loves it when I am near her, giggling with her, talking to her etc. At that moment (while she is in a temporary mood high) I QUICKLY say or do whatever needs to happen. In your case you could make him taking his meds part of something happy. Maybe he likes to go out to movies and you could say "Hey dad, this movie is going to be so much fun. If you take your meds right now, we could leave right now and get there on time. I know you hate it when we are late to the movies." Then maybe you could quickly give him the meds while you are distracting him even more, maybe saying "and dad, do you want to get ice cream after the movies too?" as you are giving him the meds.

As far as dealing with the same questions over and over and over and over and...yeah, I know EXACTLY what you are going through. Here is my advice:

1. Expect it to happen. This way you are not unhappy when it keeps happening
2. Answer the question quickly OR divert his attention. I have found with my mom that if she keeps asking the same question, and if I am at wit's end (been there, done that many a time!), and if I really don't want to answer the question again, I will pretend I haven't heard it and re-direct her to something else, e.g. "Hey mom, I can't find my handbag, can you help me to find it?" 1 minute later it's miraculously "found" and she has forgotten her initial question.

Hope this helps somewhat.
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Welcome to the world of dementia! My dad does the same thing and I just keep answering. They can't help it. Sometimes I change the subject & that helps. Also, my dad tends to be agitated in the afternoon & rocks back & forth. I put on cowboy music (his favorite) & tat helps calm him down. Everyday I print out a sheet that says the day & what his appointments are. Check out the Alzheimer's Assoc site. My dad lived alone then had a stroke, was hospitalized & came to live with us. We were already make plans for assisted living as he was not taking his meds. But you need a break & your dad should not live alone. You can hire in home care, here it $20 hr with a 3 hour minimum. And yes, enlist the help of your siblings. Good luck! You are a wonderful daughter!
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Denni Feb 2012
Thank you all for your suggestions. A couple of my siblings are going to try and help me out in same way or shape. The suggestions are great ones. I'll try and divert his attention; however, that in itself, I'm afraid, will be full time job!
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NancyH Feb 2012
My mother-in-law who also has dementia/alz gets into this loop. She starts complaining about something, and keep repeating the same thing over and over. I do manage to get her off track, then she seems to be fine. When it comes to dr appts etc, I make the appointments, take her and just automatically know that she's NOT going to remember why/when/where she's going. I never ask her if she wants to see a doctor, because that's pointless. Of course she's gonna say 'no'. She has learned to trust me and my knowledge of her body/brain and how it works, so she goes along with whatever I want to do. That has taken 3 years to get to that place though. I have come to just go into auto-pilot when it comes to her repeating herself a thousand times when we're together. No biggie, I just answer or make the same comment a thousand times back to her. She can't help it. But how I react to her, that, I CAN help.
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tbailey Feb 2012
I hear you some days it seems like I sit here & repeat the day date the next dr. appt. when she needs her pain medicine did you already give me my medicine? She being my MIL & I read about the hives she has a temporary colostomy & thinks it just came up on her like a sore???? Ive explained you had surgery they are going to fix it soon. And thank god Colostomy bag dementia yea they dont mix wish me luck. good luck to you all too. My mother in law also will sit and watch tv all day & gripe about how she cant stand flo insurance commercial & she hates dr. oz she makes you turn it & it comes on after her news so yea ...thanks for letting me vent ill be back..haha
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I know what you mean. It's like "50 First Dates", or "Groundhog Day". I pretend I'm in a time warp.

Somehow I'm supposed to be a walking talking encyclopedia. Thanks to my iPhone I can "Look things up on that thingy". LOL
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tbailey Mar 2012
Thats my saying welcome to Groundhogs day all day all week long LOL You have gotten some good advice I think every patient has there own attitude or I should say what makes them snap out of reapeating Take the advice try to change his talking bring up something from his past that you might enjoy to talk about like my kids I say Granny do you remb. when so n so did that & you did this and the music I think when there listening to it gives the mind a break .. worth a try for your sake Good luck I'm in same place Im taking care of MIL in my home and Im pretty much all she has to ask ? to then seems like when my husband or her family calls she listens to them answer them soon as she is back with me ? time again ugh.
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Denni Mar 2012
Thank you all for your helpful replies. I appreciate them all. Now I'm dealing with my dad's imagined conversations between he and I. Need to speak with his dr. very soon.
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