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This was one of the saddest conversations I have ever had. My dad is a very well educated man and has been very successful in his professional life. He now finds himself in this terrifying new world of "dementia". He is just sick enough to know that he is sick, which is a horrible place to be. I'm not sure how to get him across the bridge. As sad as it makes me, I realize that once he is further down the path, he won't be so terrified and tormented. I just have no idea how to help comfort him. He knows that he's not going to get better. The only thing that I've been able to think of to tell him when his mind goes to dark places was that if he was thinking something that made him feel scared and afraid, it wasn't real. He's currently in a skilled nursing facility after being in the hospital after a terrible fall. I wrote a letter for him to keep by his bed telling him that he was safe, that the bad things weren't real and that I loved him. I don't know what else to do.

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My heart is with you - this is horribly hard on you. What you are doing is fine. I agree that when the person knows that he doesn't know it is terrible to watch their suffering.

My dad lived that way for ten years because of dementia caused by surgery. I tried to go with where he was that day. If he could understand what was real, I'd tell him. If not, I'd go with validation and re-direction. His dementia was different than vascular dementia because he didn't really have memory issue (which almost made it worse). However, all we can do in many cases is reassure, comfort and then try to distract and redirect.

Try to take care of yourself,
Carol
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My wife has had vascular dementia for years now and meds do help but her thinking is most likely all going away some day. During this span I am redirecting her thinking (when I can), and giving only positive thoughts for her to think about when she feels ALL is going against her. I am also spending time with her usually three times a day and when she complains of health issues my responses now are: "please tell staff" - "What can they do?' she asks. My response is they need to be charting how you feel so the doctor will know and see a trend and maybe this will all help. I write down my questions for the doctors she sees so during the interval there it will be able to be addressed. Because we have been married over 56 years I usually know her needs and am able to meet them is her thinking now.
One of the best books I have read on dementia is: "This Ugly Disease" by Donald Zoller. His wife had dementia and has since passed but it is very helpful for anyone who is a 'care partner' of a dementia person. The author is a graduate from Sioux Falls University South Dakota.
Knowing that even as a professional there is little I am able to do it is important to NEVER lie to the dementia person, be loving even when that person is unloving, have a quiet time every day with that person, and most of all prayer for that person to gracefully pass on when HIS timing is completed. I have many times spent time in prayer and crying to God for HIS wisdom and strength. She is happy in the Assisted Living portion of the Retirement Community we chose to move to years ago. If you think it is easy to live alone and do everything in the house and still be the spouse - well, it is VERY difficult believe me.
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What you did is just fine. Reassure by agreeing with the positive things and redirect from the negative ones.
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Don't know if this will help vascular dementi but it has been proven that organic extra virgin coconut oil breaks up amyloid plaques in the brain that cause dementia.
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I think this was a beautiful thing to do. I wish I had thought of it. My heart goes out to you and your journey. Write down as much as you can. It will give you peace later.
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I'm with Sunnygirl; there is likely a geriatric psychiatrist who visits the Rehab on a regular basis. Reassurance of the sort that you are doing is wonderful, don't get me wrong, but NO amount of reassurance, comforting music or the presence of others made a d@mn bit of difference to my mom; meds did, and they continue to keep her on an even keel.

A broken brain is a terrible thing; it plays tricks on you. This summer, my mom became convinced that she had leprosy. She claims that a dermatologist once told her that, and that I know all about it. No amount of calling her old doctors and getting reassurances, a trip to a new dermatologist or anything else helped. Upping her anxiety meds did, although she remains convinced that she's given whatever she has to my niece's newborn. (sigh)
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I'd have him evaluated by a geriatric psychiatrist and explore how to help with his fears and anxiety. My cousin, who also has Vascular Dementia, used to ask me similar things. She'd say, Things look strange. Am I dreaming? Is it real?" I'd tell her that things were real and good and that she was fine. I'd try to reassure her. That worked at first, but then she became depressed and anxious. The confusion scared her. Medication really helped her and she became much more content after going on Cymbalta. I'd ask the doctor if mediation could help.

You might also explore if the facility your dad is staying will have the staff and activities to challenge him and keep him as active as possible, for as long as possible. Just sitting in bed, might make him feel worse. Unless he continues to have some serious medical problem, he might do well in AL or Memory Care, where others are able to understand and support him better.

Also, if his skills are still available, he might communicate with other people who have cognitive decline or dementia online. They are able to offer support and comfort. PM me, if you interested in finding a link for them.
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Some days mom gets up confused and scared. Some days she gets up all smiles and feeling good, and it sometimes doesn't take long for that to change. Her questions in her depressed states often back me into a corner of having to remind her that she was headed for an elderly home if i had not come to take her away from those people. she usually has enough wits to realize what i am telling her and it changes her mood. i know deep down she prefers that i tell her the truth, she says so when she is clearer, even if that truth isn't pretty. she also has times when she can't understand whatever she is reading, usually the junk mail i let her have or the old greeting cards and mementos that keep shifting around in her room, or doesn't recognize herself in a mirror, or thinks she should brush her teeth with body cream, or that her other kids were just here and left her without saying goodbye, and these things will lead her into darkness. i do my best to redirect her, but sometimes she is inconsolable even despite the antidepressants or the dilantin or the seemingly useless memantine, and i have to just let her cry in her bedroom or bang her drawers all night long because nothing fixes her. she knows she is sick, or was sick, and that that sickness left its irreversible damage. i think that as with anyone else, one needs to work through the pain, she wears herself out and very often wakes up feeling better, just like all of us do. but when the truth about her sickness and her current situation does help it helps a lot. i just try to drag her mind around to what is good in her life, and that what is bad in her mind is best left alone. sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, and tomorrow is another day, just as it is for all of us.
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Congratulations! Your letter will be a comfort now, but when the dementia progresses farther, he will not be able to read and understand what it says. It seems the more successful one is in life, having dementia is like a robber - taking all the gifts life can bestow, and leaving an emptiness. Visit him and make memories...for you.
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Yes, he will reach a point where he can no longer read or communicate. My husband communicates through his eyes. Sometimes I see tears, sometimes fear. Sometimes resignation. I can only hold his hand or stroke his arm and tell him how much I love him.
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