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The past week, Mom has been glued to the TV. She always has the news on every minute she's awake, but this has been worse. She walks around the house with her TV ears on and sleeps with them on so she never misses a minute. She runs to where I am shouting about events, giving me the same details from an hour before. Yesterday, we repeated the same conversation almost word for word 3 hours apart--same responses, same facial expressions. She tells stories to my children with details confused. She accuses me of always trying to prove her wrong, so I don't correct her unless its a current detail that matters. She's been on the internet since 1996, but today she can't remember how to search or use tabs. She has an official diagnosis of Alzheimers/dementia, but has not exhibited this many symptoms before except when she had a UTI and collapsed with heart failure 6 months ago. I might could call her doctor for an antibiotic, but what I really want to know is could this rapidly worsening cognitive behavior be due to the stress of this massive cultural change due to the virus? And secondly, should I point out to her what's she's doing or just suck it up and try to smile?

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IMHO, as you say since "she sleeps with tv ears on," how is she getting any sleep? Check or tell her physician what she is doing. Don't suck it up and try to smile, else you'll need a caregiver yourself!
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Reply to Llamalover47
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My mom had a fall in Feb, with an overnight observation in hospital, and we have seen a big decline in her dementia, specifically more sundowning and more confusion, for example forgetting her husband is dead (for 14 years) or looking or her children in the middle of the night. We recently moved her to assisted living, planned before the fall.
It's working out ok, but many of the reasons we had for moving her- more social interactions which she thrives on, outing with me and her grandkids and great grandchildren, not just sitting in her house alone have been negated by the current virus restrictions. They are requiring residents to eat alone in their rooms.
Im really worried about her because she is mostly alone in her apartment watching out the window or a little TV. She has no hobbies, doesn't do much reading doesnt knit or do crossword, or play cards. I'm worried the extra isolation and disruption in schedules will worsen the dementia. Too much time to think and her anxiety skyrockets.

They let them come out and I've been by on good weather days and sit with her and I call her on the phone several times a day. But sometimes in the evening, she calls me and its heartbreaking because she is scared and alone and confused. Doesnt understand where she is and doesnt remember that's she's lived there several weeks. But the next day, doesn't remember that she even called me upset, like a reset button

I've thought about bringing her back home, but it was so hard to get her to go there at all, if I bring her home, I'd never get her to go back. And she lived at home with me for 6 months, prior to this and it just wasnt working.
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Reply to Gracie61
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Peppersmom Mar 20, 2020
Hi Gracie,
I own an assisted living facility and I can try to calm your fears about mom, as most new residents need time to adjust to new faces and the environment. It is sad that they seperate the residents.
She should definitely be redirected away from the bad news tv. Can you tell her the tv is broken?
We had very good results with earphones and a ipod mini that you can load with her favorite music "from her olden days".
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My mother's dementia worsened, what seemed overnight, after a fall that broke her shoulder. The doctor said any type of trauma, physical or mental, can accelerate dementia. It seemed that way with my mom. :(
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Reply to ElleKay
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I have no true expertise to provide, but just personal experience. My dad was diagnosed with ALZ four years ago, though probably could have been diagnosed sooner. We probably all were in denial about it.

Once he was diagnosed, and in that state where he was cognizant enough to know he was losing it, that caused great fear, trepidation, anxiety, depression et al. (I think he was better the year later when he wasn't aware enough to know he was losing his awareness.
It seemed he progressed more when he was in agitated states.

When he died, my mom was obviously depressed, along with all her normal stuff. Seemed to me she was losing her memory all the time so we feared, oh no, here we go again.

As time passed and she probably got through the grief somewhat, it seemed to me anyway she was not forgetting nearly as much. She is almost 90 so some is inevitable, but I do think the stress does contribute to at least short term memory loss, by that I mean loss that returns later.
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Reply to Karsten
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In 2007 I was diagnosed with PTSD dementia, and now my husband's Alz is going into his 11th year. I improved with learning how to deal with stress etc. However, I must do all I can to keep things low key. I found a program called Reflections on Daystar. It has soft playing music with the most beautiful scenes from all over the world. It has words of comfort that come up on the screen. My husband enjoys it - sometimes. I know there are DVDs you can purchase. With this virus, my honey does not want to go anywhere - he is scared and it has caused several stressful days. I record the news and watch the weather with him. It is hard to have a total news free day but it does help. He can't do puzzles but he does well with Jenga puzzle - but he sometimes straightens the blocks. I rest in my faith, knowing I am loved and secure in God's hands. I try humor - it works very well.
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Reply to LNReason
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Yes, stress can definitely accelerate those symptoms. Mom was a handful the later part of last year when my Dad was passing away. She has shown alot of improvement these last few months but with all this constant corona news I am also concerned.

I am working remotely so monitoring TV watching. She loves John Wayne and all those old movies. Also game shows that are lively but not overbearing for her.

Now that spring is here, she can plant flowers with me. I give her small pots that she can finish quickly and feel a since of accomplishment. She likes to color and roll coins and music.

This is always a day to day thing. Sometimes she wants to do nothing.

Do what you can. We all do.

BTW- my Mom drew me to tears one day straight to her doctor. His advise I use for everything she says and does, "Learn to pick your battles". It has saved me alot of anguish.

Hope this helps. GOD BLESS!
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Reply to SometimesStrong
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Absolutely!! Mom fell on January 15. She has been moved 9 times between 4 hospitals, 1 rehab (Twice) and 2 AL. Each time her cognitive ability drops another step in the staircase of life. She was living at home and somewhat capable of taking care of herself before the first fall. Now she needs help doing everything and has become very childlike, all in just 9 weeks. I’m watching her slowly being erased.
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Reply to ElleK
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Current news is stressful for all of us. Andy Griffith and Frazier and other retro re-runs are a big relief. Would your mom read? If your mother is not able to concentrate on reading, would she do a jigsaw puzzle? I do jigsaw puzzles to cope with stress; I call it "puzzle therapy.". Choose a puzzle appropriate to her ability.
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Reply to RedVanAnnie
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Hi. I'm going thru same n I've found pointing it out does bc NOT help. God bless you n ur mom.
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Reply to kimbo56kdm
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Stress does effect all kinds of conditions. The news has a way of drawing us in, and the repetition of stories can create anxiety. I remember when 9/11 happened and they kept showing the planes hitting the towers that children and some adults were traumatized because they thought the event was happening again and again. This could be causing the repeat anxiety several times a day. I would try to limit what is on. My MIL is watching old movies and retro shows such as "Andy Griffith". She has better days when she does this than when she has news on all day. I would also check for UTI just to be sure.
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Reply to Katie22
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 20, 2020
Agree. They don’t need to watch it on television all day long. No one does.
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What are "TV ears"?

My FIL, who has mild dementia, went through a 1+ year phase of being glued to the Weather Channel. He fixated on every potential weather disaster around the globe. Any wave off the coast of Africa might become a hurricane and "that would be a disaster". It got so bad we had to turn the TV off just to get his attention or sit down for a meal.

Have you tried to redirect your mother away from the TV with music? Perhaps unplug the TV and put on the music she listened to when she was a young adult. Stream music from the computer. There are literally thousands of radio stations available via online streaming.

In my opinion, nothing good will come from allowing her to follow the news. There's a reason why the TV is called the idiot box.
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Reply to NYDaughterInLaw
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LNReason Mar 20, 2020
My dad in the late 50's called TV an idiot box and took the tube out so we as children didn't fixate on it. I love good programming and reading - something my spouse does not. Good response.
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Stress hurts in all areas. I believe that.
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Reply to NeedHelpWithMom
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Agree with comments below. Stress has a huge impact on many things and it can certainly create confusion and feelings of instability in LOs w/dementia. I also agree with the suggestions to prevent the news from coming in more than once a day (mornings) and instead provide peaceful activities that create a positive distraction in the afternoon/evening. People who don't have cognitive issues are freaking out over the excessive 24/7 coverage, so I can't even imagine the inner havoc this wreaking on those with dementia. May you achieve more peace in your home!
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Reply to Geaton777
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Oh yes! Even the mild stress of getting a phone call late in the day would set my Dad off.

the only things I would allow after noon was coloring books, music, Judge Judy, and dinner. Anything else created stress (even though I thought it was mild) and stress would vastly increase the sundown for the evening,
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Reply to Katiekate
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I think stress can cause a decline.
Think about it when we are stresses we are focusing on what is causing the stress and we forget things. This would be more pronounced in someone with dementia to begin with.
I would contact the doctor and tell them that the same signs she exhibited a while ago with the UTI are occurring again. Would they prescribe an antibiotic without seeing her. I am sure they would not want you bringing her in and I am sure you would not want to expose her to people in a waiting room.
Now try to get mom's focus off the TV. Go for a walk. It is safe as long as you are not close to other people. Make sure she is not touching her face and wash hands when you return home. When you get home watch a movie not the news.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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