This week's coping...I find myself being devious in so many ways, and it sticks in my gut.

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Trying to find way to avoid conflicts, if only for a day, I find myself being devious in so many ways, and it sticks in my gut. I hide his cell phone because his sits for hours, hitting the numbers, scrolling through names, calling people at all hours, sometimes accidentally. I hide his shaver because he dumps the whiskers everywhere and lost the parts to the last one, sits and shaves and shaves and shaves. (I offer to help him to expedite and clean the shaver for him). Hide his hearing aid accessories because he dumps them out all over. I hide the mail because he wants to subscribe to every magazine, donate to every charity, enter every sweepstake, apply for every refy or loan, send away for every "viagra"-type product, every prostate product. And on it goes.

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BBCrawford: "The caregiving card" is genius! Love it!
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She1934:
What you (and many of us) have to do is not being "devious." It certainly feels that way, especially for those of us who were always grilled to tell the truth when growing up ourselves. However, as you yourself say, it is a "way to avoid conflicts" and that it is. You cannot cajole, reason with or in any way "manage" dementia and the behaviors it brings out! It is what it is (and can/likely will change over time.) The only way to cope with their "reality" is to find way around the various issues (and these vary from person to person - some we all share, others issues/behaviors are more unique.) Little white lies, therapeutic fibs, the need to hide things, make up excuses or explanations, and moving dangerous items out of sight (and therefore often out of mind!) are among the coping mechanisms many of us have had to use. Personally I also dislike "lying" or being deceptive, but it unfortunately is a necessary evil - both for their safety and YOUR/OUR sanity!

SWOMBO's comment sums it up:
"The necessity for deception is one of the most difficult issues I've experienced in dealing with my husband's dementia, but as time goes on I've come to the realization that it is a very sensible coping mechanism. It protects him from stress and keeps my aggravation and worry at a minimum." They have their "coping" mechanisms, as contorted as they might be, and we need our own! Just beware that while it becomes easier over time to manage the person this way, you don't want to let this ease bleed over into your "normal" dealings!

Looking back, prior to realizing where we were heading, there were instances where mom insisted a guy painting rooms took some small items, and then later after my brother and his family visited she said they must've taken her tweezers. My response initially is why mom, why would they need to take that? It is something readily available and inexpensive, so why? I learned to just change the subject. Fast forward to cleaning out after the move to MC - we found several tweezers in the bathroom, including one I got for her as she insisted she had none (no real surprise at this point), and then - about FIVE pair were found in a dresser drawer!! It is bad enough when they hide/lose items, but she also started digging out old paperwork and going on and on about whatever that paperwork was for (old ancient history stuff!) I took a few items after seeing what it was (surreptitiously), but eventually had to get my brother to take her out for a while and "swept" all the places I knew she had paperwork. She never queried where it went, never missed any of it. It was only a problem when it was there (dug out) and accessible! Anything she did dig out and put on the kitchen table "just came in the mail", although it was all MANY years old. There was no reasoning with her as to why it was old but she just got it - I chalked it up to the mailers being incompetent, and then took it away when she wasn't looking. Only once or twice she recalled having one of these, but didn't know where it went... Change subject!!

Now, since she has drifted back in time a bit, I have to make excuses as to why I cannot take her to her mother's place now (oh, it is a little late now, and not on my way, so maybe tomorrow), or say I do not have a key to her (previous) home with me, I will have to check when I get home... Usually this is met with an "ok." The answer du Jour (or the moment) will change from time to time! You just have to get adept at it - if you had children, you know how this goes... As the kids get older, you have to adjust the answer/reasoning for them. For the elders with dementia, it is a little different, but so similar in many ways! The answers or ways around issues might actually get a little easier as the condition progresses (vs kids get older and wiser and you have to get more devious!)

Following up on ccheno's suggestions - if his cell phone is a "Smart" phone, you can delete or disable most any of the "apps", such as Chrome (internet access). If he can still "dial" numbers, that may necessitate somehow disabling the calling feature, but as for pre-programmed numbers, make them all go to a single number (he selects or enters the various names, but all calls go to your phone, perhaps a landline with remote messaging and you somehow make the landline phone unavailable at night so he doesn't hear it or just have ALL calls go to remote voicemail?) From your post it appears he scrolls and selects the names, so changing the numbers might help! Certainly disabling wi-fi can help, but if you are in an area where there is decent cell service, he could still make calls. This all calls for some creative thinking about how to handle the cell phone (and prepare the "fibs" for why it is not working!) Disable one "app" at a time, so it is not as noticeable. When you "hide" items, pretend that he has misplaced it and feign searching for where he left it...

Others have made suggestions for other distractions (and protections) - I never thought about the subscription cards that are in the magazines! Because she is in MC, I do not have to worry about those anymore, but for those with LO living with them, yes, beware of this! RD likes to mail MORE renewals even after it has been renewed.
I discovered this but until mom renewed and sent me the "Free" subscription, first to my mailbox, then to my PO Box, I was not aware that she had fallen for this! I had to send them NASTY mail to make them stop (they will renew even if you do NOT ask for it!!)

For those elders who can recall their SS#, which enables them to open new credit - I do not know if you can "freeze" their credit online, or use POA to do it by mail. It would resolve this issue if you can do this. Some states require payment ($10 or so per credit bureau), but if you can manage a way to do this, it should prevent ANY new credit and with POA you can (should be able to - some banks are pain in the butts about this) close old credit. I had to freeze my own credit at the bureaus because Atty staff member sent query with my SS# in email :-O!!! Fortunately I most likely will never need to unfreeze it again so mine will be "safe" for a long long time!

FWIW: at some point when you get over feeling bad about needing to make up answers (lie/fib), get better about reacting to issues, hiding items, etc, you might actually find some of these behaviors a little amusing! We chuckle over some things that mom does - not laughing at her per se, just trying to find a way to "cope" by making light of stuff she says or does! Laughter, as they say, is the best medicine!!
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I so relate to all that has been said on this thread. We put a gate at the top of our stairs so at night Dad wouldn't stumble and fall down the stairs on the way to the bathroom. He was pissed but I said Dad I am not living with regret saying only if I had done that he would be ok. So I am dropping the Caregiver Card. He dealt with it. Even told his Dr how he appreciates it. Go figure. Also we have to hide the mail or he will leave it all over the place in magazine, piles of his stuff. So we try to get to the mail before he can. It just never ends the things we have to hide or lie about to keep him calm and happy. Everyday is a new thing, yet it also feels like groundhog day too. Love Dad so much yet my husband and I are burning out. So we are hiring peeps to come it to get breaks. Have a most awesome day.
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To She1964, you are doing the best you can, just keep doing it. I would get a dummy phone that doesn't work. Or a TV remote with the batteries out. It might be just the number punching is fascinating. See if you can find some respite care for yourself. Our RSVP in town will come and visit in 2 hr or 4 hr blocks, up to 4 hrs a week, so you could get out of the house. We also have an Adult Day Center where we care for people for 4 or 8 hrs a day to give the caregiver a break. You are doing nothing wrong, you also need to care for yourself.
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Don't be so hard on yourself. I stopped letting my mother bring in the mail because she wouldn't give me bills until they were past due. She also would donate to every cause on earth and run out of money.
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The necessity for deception is one of the most difficult issues I've experienced in dealing with my husband's dementia, but as time goes on I've come to the realization that it is a very sensible coping mechanism. It protects him from stress and keeps my aggravation and worry at a minimum. Been through the mail issues -- so I just get to it first, weed out the junk, and keep it hidden from him. As to ordering online, he's (thankfully) reached the point where he can no longer figure out how to operate the computer; and he's never been a cellphone user, so my only worry now is the landline, at which he's becoming more and more inept. And he hasn't driven -- or wanted to --
for more than 10 years now. It's very therapeutic to know that so many others share these experiences. Bless you all!
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I absolutely do not deem this devious activity on your part. You have done a great job of managing these tasks, albeit difficult as they are. Give yourself break.
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My 92-year-old mother-in-law has no interest in the phone. She can hear, but can't recognize voices or understand who the callers are. She can't use a cell phone, or any phone.
If your father loves using the cell phone, could you set it up the way it's done for small kids, no WIFI or Internet, so they can't place calls, but can look through photo libraries (add photos of faces, animals, favorite objects, memories he'd enjoy scrolling through), listen to music, use the calculator, and show him how to use a few very simple features.
It would be so cool if there were a way to have a phone contact list so he could tap a name/phone number that went directly to recorded messages: "Hi Dad, I love you very much. I hope to see you soon!" "Hi Grandpa. I want to sing a song for you (read a poem, tell a funny story)."
This would give him things to do if he just enjoys fidgeting with the cell phone.
If he still understands how to make phone calls, this would not be adequate, and as others have suggested, a land line would be necessary.
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Yes, try to remember they do not do this on purpose and try to put yourself in their shoes. Sad to say, we cannot predict the future and we may find ourselves like them one day. It is a very self sacrificing thing we can do to take care of an elderly parent with dementia. I know as I have been doing it for years. I do get tired as I don't have much time for myself. And I can relate to another person who wrote about her parent's dentures. Don't know how many pairs my dear mom lost. And it was me who had to take her to the countless trips to the dentist for new dentures, impressions, fittings, etc. and not to mention the money my mom paid for new ones. I'm trying my best for now and taking one day at a time. Life goes by fast. It won't last forever.
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My friends were not too bad when I was made POA for their health care and finances. I monitored their spending on-line at first to make sure they weren't getting scammed. When I got them into a memory care apartment, I took the cell phone and cancelled it and their phone in their town home. All their mail was sent to me so I could monitor things. I tore out the subscription renewal cards in the magazine they received so the husband wouldn't think it was time to renew. I had their checkbook to pay their bills, so I didn't need to worry about strange purchases. Getting them into that environment was key to being able to manage their needs without becoming personally exhausted. The care there was better than anything I could have done. As a male friend, I was not about to start cleaning the wife with her incontinence. The trick was convincing the husband they need to leave their townhouse so his wife could get better care. It took a couple of years before her needs were so pronounced that he reluctantly agreed. Once there, he was happy and never asked about going home. There were new people to see and eat with everyday so there was socialization. Staff there made sure each got whatever meds they needed at the right times and kept me informed as to their mental states to help prepare me for the declines that were coming. I could never had done this alone. May you find such a good answer for your father. I had no hearing aid issues to deal with and the constant misplacing of things, so it was easier for me and the staff.
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