Is clinginess with dementia normal?

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I have a really, really hard time getting things done because Ninny (93 with vascular dementia) is nearly constantly looking to me to amuse her and follows me almost all of the time. No matter where I stake out some space, I can expect company pretty much immediately, and if I get up and move, unless I am still directly in her line of sight (cleaning for example), she'll go looking for me in about 5 minutes' time. Sometimes I have a hard time even getting away just to use the washroom without her getting confused and thinking I have left her alone. I feel like I'm tied to her by an invisible leash, and sometimes I just want to get away from those sighs of discontent and nagging sniffles for a few minutes!
Once in a while she will retire to her room to watch some television or read a magazine, but I'd say she is actively seeking my company for at least 6 hours a day, and I need some space. Even if I put no effort into amusing her and just do my own thing, she will sit for hours on end in my immediate vicinity and stare off into space. I suppose it must be boredom that makes her do it (perhaps she is hoping I will do something interesting) but she never wants to do anything except read, watch TV, and see what I'm up to - and for some reason, watching me do absolutely nothing seems to top her list of ideal pastimes. I can't seem to get her interested in any activities, independent or otherwise, and I'm not sure how to encourage her to be less clingy and what kinds of hobbies might catch her interest so I can have a little 'me' time. I'm going to guess this is normal but I'm not sure what, if anything, I can do about it. Any advice?

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Sometimes this is called shadowing and comes along with dementia. But many of you have given excellent answers that are more general.

Someone at that age may feel that they want every bit of you that they can have. They know they won't be around long and they may fear, as was mentioned, dying alone.

It's very difficult to be shadowed, but it's also difficult to live in fear. As with so many things, trying to fine a balance of some kind so that the person feels cared for and the caregiver can breathe some air alone is very, very hard. You are all amazing with your advice. Keep it coming.
Carol
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Sit down one day with a color book and crayons...and color a page...and give her a page to color..it will take her longer...make it interesting..something artful..or copy something from the internet..or get colored pencils...this will really take her a while to complete....I KNOW..you really do not want to color..a page..but if she sees you do....she will do it too...Put her and your art on the fridge...not only will you have a sweet page colored..but a life time memory...and if she passes away....a real gift...Talk about famous artist..and how so many started late in life...give her some blank pages...set up some display and try to draw it together...have a laugh or two...and see if her interest peaks enough...where you can have some down time..while she is creating..MAKE sure everyone says very good...but not to OVER DO IT on the compliments...if relatives want one for there fridge..you can make copies...send them in emails to friends......I am an artist..of sorts..LOL....Sometimes the creativity of someone stays hidden..she can even sit in her fav chair with a smal tv table and do some art.....I am sure at 93...she KNOWS her time here with us is limited..and she is soon to leave us...her wanting to be near you...at this age...well...I am sure she knows... WHY not take some photos of her...let her know she is loved...even if you give her a full 10 minutes of your time...that might be enough to satisfy her the rest of the day....At 93..she is older, brittle and need encouragement to wake up in the morning....You must be that encouragement...She is alive today....can you take her for a drive...to the beach...or some where ...she does not have to get out...but just to see the world...who knows....the good rewards you can earn with the LORD.....this woman is on her way out of our world....and she knows it...feels it..and does not want to die alone in a room...
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The only way that I get away from my Mums shadowing me is respite. This is a common sign of dementia and the main caregiver gets most of it. The thing that got me the most was the constant staring. Everything that I did, even the most mundane chores she would watch me. When I went to the bathroom I could hear her pacing outside of the bathroom door ect ... you all know how this goes. This site saved my sanity many, many times. I could come here to vent and find out that I am not alone. I cannot vent with my family because it gets them too upset but this is a safe place where others truly know what I am going thru. I digress however because it took me a couple of years to demand my respite from my unhelpful sibs. You must change your perception about what YOU deserve which is time off from the constant following around because your mental state is suffering. We need to be strong to take care of our loved ones. I also just ignore a lot of it now. Used to think that I was supposed to entertain her 24/7 but that is not really realistic is it? I do the best that I can, keep her safe and fed. But as I have stated before I am not a cruise director and my job in life is not to entertain her constantly.
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My grams is the same way. Insecure, hates to have to need me, but cannot seem to not need me If I spend too much time out of the room she is yelling for me, or when I go check on her, scolding me and trying to demean me for not being there to entertain her. But if I suggest activities, she is not interested. Staring out the living room window, complaining, and blaming her her past times. I listen and let it go, taking what time out I can. I started sitting in the same room with my computer or a book. Which is still upsetting because I am ignoring her. What did she do wrong? etc. I have set up respite care and started taken extra time out. She takes a nap daily so this gives me a bit of alone time. And because she is up frequently at night to pee, I go to bed early so I can get a bit more sleep.

The less she is physically capable of doing the worse her insecurities and fears. It goes along with old age and feeling helpless. I empathize, but I also set up a schedule and stay consistent. Taking time out where I can.

I would suggest checking on respite care. Not much else to do. Especially when they refuse to do anything to entertain themselves. I am still learning about dementia, but from my interactions with grams, would have to say the ability to be creative and to entertain self is minimal. It is not a concept that works.

Wishing you the best.
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My 90 year old grandmother with dementia isn't as clingy as yours, but she will freak out if I am not with her whenever she's in a new situation. At her 90th birthday party, I was walking around the restaurant setting things up, and she kept saying "Don't leave me alone." She goes to an adult day center once or twice a week, and very time I drop her off she asks if I am staying with her, and then when I pick her up she is always so relieved to see me. She told me last week that she was disgusted, because she didn't know if I knew to come and pick her up. She was worrying herself sick about whether she was going to see me or not, but then other times she's ok. I can sort of relate to your situation, but my grandma isn't at all clingy when we're at home together, because she has that sense of security there. I would suggest taking her to an Adult Day center once or twice a week to give yourself a break (Make sure they can handle Alzheimer's/Dementia patients). Your Ninny will go through some separation anxiety, but the staff is trained to deal with it. She may come to enjoy some of the activities and social interaction. The place we go to did a trial with us, which was 3 hours where my grandma stayed at the facility, and I left so we could see how she would do for a longer period of time without me. See if you can do a trial before you agree to a routine schedule. Good luck!
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Its the same thing here. Follows me to the bathroom, to the bed room if I have laundry to fold. Won't help, just stares. He gets upset if I am on the computer too long. The staring is unnerving after a while. Right now he is watching the TV from the couch, I am 4 steps away with the computer in my lap and he wants me to sit on the couch with him. The internet cable isn't long enough so I get to stay in my chair. He was in daycare for a few months and I was beginning to feel somewhat sane, but now they won't take him back because of aggressive tendencies. I am looking into having some one come in a couple of days per week but I have no where to go when someone is here. All my "friends " are long gone and it seems silly to me to leave the apt just to be alone. But if I stay here .. well you know the answer to that. Some days I just want to bang my head against the wall til I fall over. Sorry to be so dramatic but I guess all you letters and comments pushed a button for me.
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I have been in the business of caring for dementia patients for 8 years. I do it because I am across the board Pro-Life. I think 6 hours a day is not much at all, I care for clients 24 hrs a day 7 days a week w 3 hours off for Mass. My advice, engage, engage, engage. And not to guilt you, but when your loved one is gone you will regret not having 5 more minutes at their side. Caring for the elderly & informed is a honor, not a burden. Look to them as if they held the face of Christ. It is He you are serving, but caring for them. One major tip that works wonders, re-create the hobbies they did when they were young. Baking, watching Church on tv every day, the music will sooth both of you. Use music therapy, if they liked piano or dance as a child, turn on Dancing with the Stars, all my clients like that. Gather a basket of baby clothes from a garage sale, have her fold them & talk about when they gave birth to you, how handsome & healthy your Father was then. Ask about your Baptism, family parties, deceased Aunts & Uncles she was close to. Good Luck, the level of consciousness to change is our own.
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I can totally relate to this in fact I didn't know there was a name for it. What I don't understand is even when my mom is with one of her caregivers and I have the same people on the same days she still wants to be with ME. I am just starting to feel a little less guilty for taking any time to myself. Daycare saved my life I have her going 3 days per week and it was difficult at first but now its easy she doesn't even look back for me or grab my hand. I tell her go have coffee and fun with your friends. The worst part of the day for me is when she is Sundowning which is happening more often now. It is very difficult to re-direct her and calm her down. I dread Sundays because I feel like I have to entertain her all day and if anyone visits she gets upset at not being the center of attention so I feel isolated and trapped. I tried the coloring book she doesn't want to do that either. She is more of a watcher then a doer and I can't relax because she constantly asks what are we going to do? However, Just when I think I can't do this one more day she does something funny or adorable.
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I think part of it is that they lose concept of time. What may be 5 minutes for us may seem like an hour for them - that sort of thing. Dad will do that sometimes for Mom, but it has lightened up recently.
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If I went out of the room, my mom was asking where is Suzy. Then someone would bring her to me. I mostly had her with me wherever I was, but then she would get up and leave and not know where I was. She didn't want to be alone, and would start crying and saying I can't be alone. Because of them feeling so mixed up I am sure it was scary and knowing I was there was a assurance that things were okay. When you are going through the situation it seems like you can never get a minute to yourself. Mom passed 2 weeks ago and it feels very lonely and quiet. Being a caregiver is very selfless and you have to realize that you do make a difference and that they do need you. Sometimes its just to be near them, and often times you forget that they have a disease and are not normal. I know that my mom appreciated everything I did for her and I was glad to be of service to her.
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