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Hi all, Brad here--

New to the forum but am wondering if anyone has dealt with anxiety in caring for their parent(s). In my case it's Alzheimer's related (9 years in), but I'm curious to see if others are experiencing the same thing and what their approach is.

Thanks in advance--

B

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All patients react differently. Ativan is fine for one and puts another to sleep. Xanax good for one, not enough for another. SSRI good for one, another needs SNRI. And sugar levels are often an overlooked factor. Cereal or a snack before bed is good for children, so why not offer it to Grandma? It may only buy you a few hours, but it is worth a try.
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Seraquel worked wonders on my mother-in-law.
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my mom will not sleep in her bed only in her recliner, which is not good for her overall health and back. She starts having an anxiety attack...we've tried everything. She's takes her anxiety med before bedtime, but still gets really anxious..any ideas?
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I took care of my mother for 8 years and prior to that my father. Mom's dementia/Alzheimers became worse but we did not medicate her for a long time, actually until it was really too late, not for her, but for me. I pretty much lost my mind and began having horrible panic and anxiety attacks and I mean I was so bad I was begging to be taken to the hospital. I wanted to be put into the hospital but not into a locked psych ward.....just someone frickin help me, please! Two doctors told me that I was in such distress that I had to stay overnight so they could run tests on me to see how my heart and other organs were working due to the stress I have been under.

I was told to tell my 22 year old daughter goodbye, turn and face her and tell her goodbye now, because if I tried to go back to the house and continue doing what I was doing I would die of a heart attack or stroke.

I called my younger sister and we moved within the next day or so. I thought I was very strong and able to handle anything, but you literally cannot do this job alone. If you are currently taking medication, there is a problem that needs to be addressed IMMEDIATELY! I have had to leave my only home and I am currently under medication to try and get my health back on track. I have no one and no money to take care of ME now that my health is broken.

I thought I was being a wonderful child by giving so much of myself to my parents and now I am sitting here broke and broken, trying to heal and not knowing what the next step will be,

You need immediate help for you and your Mom, or you will find yourself possibly sitting right where I am. The funny thing is I cannot even afford Senior Housing! So do I wind up becoming a person living on the streets?

Call her doctor and speak to him and if you don't get a good answer and help, find another doctor. There is trouble in the making! Don't turn into me!
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Xanax. For your parent and maybe for you. Seriously. "Alprazolam is my friend."
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Thomas1....what does that mean? Death industrial complex?
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I think anxiety in the elderly is more common than most people realize. Sometimes it seems to be related to physical and/or mental conditions and other times it is an extension of that individual's personality (always worrying about something). However, I think it is also understandable for most people when you consider that most of the control of their life and situation has been taken away and they are dependent on other people for their care. I suspect I'd be anxious too if I lost all that control. In my mother's case, her anxiety was so severe that she couldn't sleep or eat in some cases. Medication helped a lot but she still has anxiety whenever there are changes in her routine.
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My mother, whp pre-stroke, was diagnosed with mild cognitive decline and post stroke with vascular dementia, suffered from terrible anxiety even when taking xanax. She worried about the weather, about whether we'd get to appointments on time, about what she should ask the aide to do, on and on. What finally helped was an antidepressant called Remeron. I think that these worries were caused by her declining cognitive abilities and her realization that she she couldn't figure out what was going on or how to cope with it.
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Dear Brad, believe you are suffering from anxiety while taking care of your parent. A sure and effective way to counter your nerves would be meditation - you can specifically Google for Mindful meditation which talks about being in the present moment. Infact there is a course called Vipasana Meditation which offers 10 day residential retreats for beginners (the link is http://www.dhamma.org/en/locations/directory) and is absolutely free of cost. Please try and experience this if you can spare 10 days for yourself.

If you manage to do this just 20 minutes a day, you would definitely feel the difference in your ability to take care of your parents. The existing situation is not going to change (your parents do have an ailment that needs your constant attention) however devoting a fixed time for yourself each day would make you more accepting of the situation.

Take care, god bless...
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As Country mouse said dementia suffers sometimes become anxious for no reason that is apparent to others. I think sometime they may be recalling a past anxious situation or fear. The memory is real for them!
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yep-everytime my mom gets lonely it triggers an anxiety attack-she also has sundowners syndrome...they seem connected. She takes ativan for this morning and evening (sometimes afternoon). I get calls at work from her wanting to say "goodbyes". I chalk it up to anxiety, fight or flight reaction makes her heart pound, sweating, hard to catch her breath and dizziness from lack of oxygen. Most times she can be "talked" down from it with lots of hugs, kisses and attention.
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I dealt with major anxiety when caring for my mom, who was a victim of medical malpractice. The hospital screwed up and we were all walking on eggshells just to get her better. Unfortunately she passed away 5 months after the offending surgery. Watching her deteriorate at the hands of incompetent medical staff and trying to counter that with long visits late into the night was quite taxing. I would go for walks and/or work out at a gym just to take care of me every now and then. I felt guilty going off and doing things for myself, but i felt I needed to be strong and healthy to get my mom back to her previous quality of life. I'm not a big pill taker, so if you're the one with the anxiety, it's your call to take medication. If it's your parent, then zoloft might be a better choice. The hospital gave my mom risperdal and ativan which made her crazy-like and also knocked her out. I wouldn't allow that for your parent. Have to be very careful when administering such drugs to the elderly. I wish you peace in taking care of your parent.
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My Mom does not suffer from Alzheimer's but does have anxiety and takes .05 mg of lorazepam. It's not much but takes the edge off a bit and doesn't make her dizzy. I give it routinely for sleep at bedtime.
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My 90 year old husband with vascular dementia - about 4 years - is very nervous all the time. I have just tried a couple of homeopathic anxiety remedies by Similasan and Mylands.. Since he responds to most chemical drugs poorly - extreme diarrhea even with lomotil, etc., these are helping some, tho I am giving them cautiously due to previous explosions.

The Hyland's helps with insomnia also - no side effects so far! It's worth a try.

Our latest anxious episode concerned what he should do if he could not collect a specimen from a bowel movement in the middle of the night. He had dreamed up a trip to the Dr. who he thought had asked for this. The Similisan helped him believe that it was not necessary. Phew!!

Good luck!
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Yes. My mother gets so upset over things that would not have bothered her at all, when she was younger. For her 95th b'day party you would have thought that the President was on the guest list. She worried whether the beautician would get her hair done. She did. I don't get it. it seems like there would be less to worry about, as you get older. By the way, my mother was a professional singer and a deputy sheriff. She was not known for hysteria.
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you're ruining your own health by being there .You need a long break from them.
Why can't someone else take over . Ativan works
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I agree with consistency of care. My Dad and I have a very predictable schedule, so even when he does not know who I am, the schedule is the same. I have this typed up for any care giver also.

A write things down. If I go out for a couple hours I write a note, each time, "Shopping, back at 6pm with dinner...limit snacking" He has little short term memory, likes to know where I am, so when he forgets, he looks at the note. Also I do this on a regular schedule. I leave him with cut up fruit, a SoBe coconut drink, a protein bar, and set the TV for America's Funniest Videos (makes him laugh) or a funny movie. So far so good, although the MD says soon he will not be able to be left alone.

Keep in mind what it would be to suddenly not know what, who or where you are multiple times a day. Or to realize that you have just spent who knows how long without a thought in your head (like waking for anesthesia).
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For my mother, in the last few years of her life (died at 92), we always kept Ativan for as needed basis. The doctors, nursing home staff, or myself, only gave it when it was necessary to relieve an onset of sadness, anxiety, anxiousness, and restlessness. It did seem to balance her problems well. Doctors are careful with this medicine because it can affect dizziness, balance, and result in falls. It worked for us to sedate her when needed, but it was a small dose.
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My solution when caregiving for an extremely anxious-prone person was to basically just do my best to try to distract them, make them laugh, etc. Mental distraction basically. If you can keep things from them to help them avoid anxiety, then do that (i.e. they don't need to know every test result, etc.). None of those things worked all the time, but when they did, it was a blessing.
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I found that getting my father who has dementia and general anxiety disorder, on an antidepressant (they also work for anxiety) worked wonders! If he has an occasional over the top worry I have Zantac as back up. You can't help them reason the anxiety away. One thing is to eliminate as many changes as possible. I do not worry about him being on the SSRI because it has made his life and mine much more tolerable.
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There is some progress being made against the Death Industrial Complex:
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Continuity in care, routine and surroundings is the usual recommendation, I think, isn't it? But I believe it is also common for dementia sufferers to become anxious and obsessive for no reason that is obvious to outsiders. There are medications that help, but whether they are appropriate for your parents, Brad, would depend on all kinds of factors that you haven't gone into: how old they are, in what way they're showing anxiety, whether it's a new phase or has been going on for a while, whether you know of any possible triggers or if it's purely part of the disease… it could be anything. Please fill us in a bit more?
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There are different vitamin's, minerals and herbs that help with anxiety, also certain foods that may assist. You can google something like, food that are helpful for anxiety and go by a natural Health store like Vitamin Cottage if you have one (there are a lot of independent stores that are good) and ask them as well.

Refined Sugar and Caffeine should be reduced or eliminated (if you stop drinking caffeinated coffee you will likely have a headache for a day or too).

If it's you...I'd say also take some time every day to meditate, if you don't know how you can google it and there are several Technics that are very easy and good...takes about 20 minutes twice a day, and you can do breathing exercises during the day that only take a couple of minutes when you feel overwhelmed or anxious.

Exercise also helps a great deal also.

As far as the dementia goes, if it is fairly advanced these things may not work so well and drug therapy is your only and best route.

Addictive drugs are not going to matter for the patient, because they have a terminal illness it isn't an issue...if it's you then it might be an issue.

Best course of action is visit your Dr and see what the options are.

My mom sees a neurologist and we are currently working on finding the right combination for my mom...so far we have not been able to effect the anxiety but have lessened her aggressive behavior that was in combination with her Anxiety.

It is a process.

I wish you luck and hopefully some of the suggestions will be helpful.
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I know I've been suffering from anxiety since I moved in with my parents. I am so worried that one of them will not wake up one morning. They have a myriad of physical ailments. I'm scared to death. I'm seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist and the medication seems to help with full blown panic attacks but I can't remember the last time I was completely anxiety free. I do yoga which helps a little and unfortunately I'm unable to exercise because I've got arthritis in my knees and bone spurs in my feet. I feel like I'm the one that needs a caregiver! Any suggestions?
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I think he's referring to his parent. That being said, I think it's a given that family caregivers experience at least some level of anxiety! I never suffered from that particular malady until I started taking care of my 93-year-old father who has dementia. So much so that last week I had to go to the emergency room because I thought I was having a heart attack due to erratic pressure in my chest. Turns out it was an anxiety attack!

On the issue of a dementia parent who suffers from anxiety, I would say my father---who has ALWAYS been a worry wart---is the reigning King of Angst.

It's easy to become inpatient and weary of this--especially when the "cause" for all this OCD/anxiety changes from day to day. And by the time you think you have "soothed the savage beast" of fear-driven anxiety, they forget: (1) that you ever brought them comfort about that one particular obsession (so that they get anxious all over again) or (2) the obsession itself. By then they are on to a new angst.

Who can keep up? I surely can't. It is oh so very waring. Only God's grace keeps me from going completely mad!
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My mother becomes very anxious when we go away. I've tried telling her far in advance or right before a trip, but the anxiety is awful either way.

She also is extremely anxious when something goes wrong and she has to depend time in a hospital or nursing home. That anxiety I can understand.

We've tried Ativan, but it makes her so sleepy, but sometimes its necessary.
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Several way through this. Medications are fine & may be addictive-so what?

Getting out of your self is another good way, considering that you also suffer anxiety-how could you not???
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Me and my elderly mother both take lorazepam when things get crazy.
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Hi Brad, welcome!

I am unclear as well. Are you the one experiencing anxiety or is it your parent?
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Just a quick clarification, Brad. Is it your parent or you who is experiencing the anxiety?

I think that anxiety is fairly common in dementia. Sometimes a drug can help relieve it. Have you discussed this with your parent's doctor?
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