Lorilocks Asked July 2009

Any advice on how (or if) to tell a parent that they have alzhiemers?

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How do you explain in home care help to someone who believes they are just fine?

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lbutti Jul 2009
Lori, There are several ways you can tell your Mom that she has Alzheimer's. You will know best what way would work for you. If the Dr. has already told her this then you can reiterate what the Dr. has said. If not then you could slowly introduce the understanding of dementia by reading literature about dementia and Alzheimer's. It may start a conversation where you can relate the symptoms to some of the things your Mom is experiencing. The Alzheimer's Association has literature on how to communicate with your loved ones. Contact your local chapter. They also have support groups for you and your father. The final way is to be direct and tell her she has Alzheimer's Disease, explaining what it is and how she fits that discription. More than likely she will deny it and soon after forget that you told her. Linda
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Lorilocks Jul 2009
Thanks to you all.
Linda, good advice. One thing I will say is most of the things that Mom feels we have "taken away" from her are things she never liked much anyway. (like driving and cooking) I think maybe it is just that she is now more aware of things she really can't do anymore and is just now feeling the loss of that.
As far as the Mail goes...that is the highpoint of her day. She sits in the front room doing her crossword puzzles and watching tv, waiting for the mailman to come. At this point, there is no way we can intercept it.
Unfortunately, we also just found out that Moms heart valve replacement is now failing. She may need another replacement. If she does go in for surgery, I am not too sure that she will ever be able to come home again. I also think that maybe that is why we have not yet been given any medication for her for the Alzheimers yet. The Doc had been going to do that on out last visit...but then he got the echocardiogram results and I assume prioritized her heart over the alzheimers. I am not sure if the medication would be considered incompatable because of that. Either way, it means we are still dealing with her without any medication.
Thanks again for everyones support and advice!
Lori
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lbutti Jul 2009
Dear LoriLocks; Try to imagine yourself, for a moment, being in a situation that is fairly unfamiliar where you are being expected to participate in but are not sure what to do. Perhaps a situation at work or home or in a volunteer group. Then you plan that activity and begin to accomplish the task and someone comes up to you and takes that project away. With or without explaination. I would imagine it would be upsetting. Now, your cognitive ability is not compromised so you may persue the task with the other person and resolve the conflict. Your Mom may be feeling this way but can not resolve the conflict, she can only feel that it has been "taken away." That does not mean you were wrong in your decision but sometimes when we put ourselves in the place of another it can help us come up with creative ways to help her resolve her conflict. The question, "Do I tell her she has Alzheimer's?" may be a moot point. She is already aware that something is not right in the way people interact with her. She just doesn't understand why because she is not aware cognitively of the problem. Does that make any sense? Perhaps compromise and creative solutions may help ease the tension. Mind if I address each comment with a suggestion that might spark an answer that suits you and your family. The Mail: perhaps intercepting certain letters before she reads them. Have items/letters/magazines that would be of interest to her that makes a positive interaction for her. Shopping: Some store now have the scooters that people can drive or have a wheel chair (Walgreens, CVS, Sam's club have simple wheelchairs that are reasonable in price). Decorate it, call it her queen chair (or something more creative) emphasis the positive aspects or make it something very special. Cooking: What can she do that is safe and a part of the action? Again, be positive and special in presenting the task. It's important to not trivialize the action. If she really does not want to do it then she will soon tire of the task and stop. That way it will be her choice not your "stopping" her. The hardest thing to relate to is the fact that her cognitive problem does not allow her to understand why she is being treated like this. It would be like you being told you can't do something you have done all your life but your perspective is, "Yes, I can". Have fun being creative, if one thing does not work try another. Then when you have it all figured out......that idea will no longer work and the creative juices will have to flow again. Good creativity to you!! Linda
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NAUSEATED Jul 2009
Poor Lori, I know exactly how you feel. I was accused of taking away things from my dad too, and not lettime him do anything. He loved his junk mail. But that got him into trouble too. He would fill out all the FREE coupons, not thinking that it was not actually free, unless you subscribe, or order. They slowly lose themselves, and their abilities, and they don't know how to handle it. I sooo feel for them, I wouldn't want to be in their shoes, and pray I never am. It will take a while dear, but eventually she may just give in. I try not to tell dad details, because it triggers upsets, so I am very general about most things. Big Hugs to you dear.
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Lorilocks Jul 2009
Great advice. Except that Mom is feeling as if we are "taking everything away from her", or "won't let her do anything" ie. She hasn't been driving in years, but is very upset that we are taking her off of the insurance. (she still reads the mail) Various other things she believes that we have "taken away from her" or "won't let her" ~ going shopping (even though she cannot walk far at all and whenever I take her, she is tired before we are part way through the store.) Cooking~ She has great difficulty in cooking meals, my Father and I love to cook. We have told/asked her to take it easy, we'll take care of it. Even though she really doesn't want to, she complains now that we "won't let her". I think she will see this the same way.
Thank you all so much for the replies! Its good to hear from those in the trenches with me.
Hugs, Lori
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NAUSEATED Jul 2009
That's great advice sister. I have done some of the same with my dad. For example, when it came to his banking, and selling his house. I would say, don't worry dad, I'm taking care of everything for you, so you can just relax, and try to enjoy life, and let everyone else do the work for once. This seems to work, and I think FINALLY, he is letting go of the larger issues. He still has more independence at the ALF than at my house. There is more room to roam around safely. Have a great day everyone, you are all special.
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No doubt about it...our ailing parents have enough knowledge to make them dangerous, and often lack the wisdom (due to Dementia or other factors) to make them stable and safe. I've had a Clinical team suggest I not tell Mother their findings. They suggested I say, "Got everything taken care of," or "The Doctor says..." making them the "heavies." I was told, "Just tell her "This is how we'll do things...", giving no options, and no loopholes. It's the firm, but gentle, and always loving approach. As long as we have their best interests at heart, it makes it easier to do what needs to be done, even when it's not easy. There are almost always ways to accomplish things; and we need to be alert, creative, and smarter than the average "Joe-" or "Sueheimer's," (if you get my meaning...) The most important thing is to ask God for wisdom and guidance. He loves to answer the prayers of the humble, and is a present help in time of need.

How about the approach, "I know you don't need the help, Mom [or Dad], but I do, so please let me get the help I need to do things around here... In fact, could you please help me pick up this lint off the floor...?" (Or some suitable distraction...) We need to be as positive and upbeat as possible, which isn't always easy. (So here, I'm preaching to myself. LOL) Happy Caregiving, dear servant!
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Lorilocks Jul 2009
Hmmm. How do we go about getting in home care for her if she thinks she's ok and the world is all wrong? I can see that soon she will be way too much for my Father and I to deal with, but she is still cognative enough to know if we say, sent her to elder care or had a nurse come here. Any advice??
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NAUSEATED Jul 2009
Dear Lorilocks, I have the same problem with my Dad, now in a great ALF. It's every one else around him that has the problems LOL. Maybe their doctor can mention the possibility of alzheimer's to them. But some, sadly, are beyond comprehension, and will never get it depending on how advanced they are. Good luck to you, everyone here understands. It takes a lot of creativity in dealing with our parents, I sometimes think it is more work than taking care of small children. Hugs to you.
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