Before the death of my mom last year, she expressed her concern for the increase in dementia in my dad. What do I do to help?


My dad denies it. My mom told many of her close friends that he was declining rapidly and she was very concerned. Now, a year after her death, I am moving in with him temporarily and am very concerned myself how bad it really is. He denies everything and he's not taking care of himself because mom's gone. He's already an aggressive person--quick to anger and yell--and I just don't know what steps to take to help him without overstepping the boundary. If he's as bad as she said he was, then I'm potentially walking into a scenario I'm completely not prepared for. He recently told both my sister and me that his memory was getting worse and it was scary and that he needed some help. The next time I saw him, I asked him about it and suggested going to the doctor with him to figure it out and he said he had just overreacted and that everyone's memory declines with age, which is true but, this is a classic sign of denial from everything I've been reading.
And if this is as bad as that, how do I take care of someone who denies it so vehemently??

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My mother to this day will tell you that there is nothing wrong with her she is as sharp as a tack and we are all the ones that are crazy. The fact of the matter is there was a problem, after discussing it with my sister and meeting with her doctor we set an appointment with the doctor and I brought my mother in. He and I had had several conversations about personality changes that she had been going through, she had become depressed and increasingly agitated, anxious and belligerent especially with me. Mainly because I was the main caretaker. She was sure I was making up lies and telling the doctor lies, so he would think there was something wrong she was becoming paranoid. When I brought her in for her appointment I brought my niece with me and she proceeded to go on a rampage, not something either the doctor or my niece had ever seen in her. As my neice watched in awe and the doctor typed away, I had to get up and walk out of the room for a few minutes. He called me after the appointment and told me that he was putting her on an antidepressant, anti-anxiety meds and a medication that would keep her from, wondering to the upstairs portion of the house where my son lives with his wife and family so she can't fall down the stairs. We now have an alarm set up at the bottom of the stairs. She lives in and in lot apartment at his house. The medication took a couple of weeks but has made a huge huge difference. She is much easier to work with now there's not as much anger and vulgarity towards me because she can't drive and she needs help with stairs and bills. She simply lets me help now she's excepting her limitations much better which is making everybody's life much easier. We actually are able to enjoy each others Company and I can take her and pick up one of her friends and take them out to lunch and that makes everybody happy. To answer your question get to know his doctor. Talk to him don't be afraid to tell him and be honest with him about what's going on don't be embarrassed about saying that he gets violent or very irritated or however you want to describe it. You cannot be putting yourself at risk either you have to make sure you're taking care of yourself Or you can't take care of him. Good luck and God bless both of you
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Tell me about acting "normal"! My mom and dad stayed with my divorced brother in a granny flat - he popped in every now and them for a quick cuppa coffee. To him, they were coping on their own. They stayed about an hour's drive from us. And would visit us about once a month, dad was driving his own car. My mom had difficulties walking and started to use a crutch. No big deal - they are getting old, so we thought. So one evening my dad phoned - please come and help, your mom's legs collapsed and she can not get up. (And his excuse for not helping her up was that she complains that he is hurting her!). So, my brother rushed over, helped her up and helped her to sit on a chair. But he cannot help her wash and put her in bed. And so, being the only daughter, my dad phoned me. Also no big deal - they will move in with us. It will not be too big a problem - they can help them self with most cores, washing, getting dress, etc.

Boy oh boy! Till the next morning! Only then did we realise what was going on! Mom being in a wheelchair now, with very bad dementia, keep on telling us that she just did their washing and hanged all the washing on the line outside, we must just bring in when it is dry, when handed the washcloth to wash, did not know what to do with the washcloth! We realised just how "normal" they acted all the time. My dad could not dress himself - we brought his cloths to her and she had to help him get dressed, sitting in a wheelchair, not being able to lift her arms high enough to pull his shirt over his shoulders! How the heck did they coped on their own!?! When I tried so wash her feet the next morning, I saw a very huge wound underneath her one foot as if she walk barefoot on something very hot. Until she has put feet into the bucket of water - she must have not being able to wash her feet in weeks! This was the greatest shock of my life! They acted to "normal". And they kept on telling us that they can help themselves, they are coping on their own!

We only then discovered that my dad was not able to drive anymore - how the heck he managed to visit his friends, go shopping and everything before, no one knows! When they came to visit, my husband used to pull his car out of the driveway, park the car outside with the nose of the car facing the road - just ready for him to take off - so we never knew that he was not able to reverse the car out of the driveway anymore, until they moved in!

What a big shock and what a big problem - he insisted that he is still capable of helping himself, driving his own car, handling my mom with the wheelchair, helping her into the car from her wheelchair.

One day he also yelled at us that we treat him like a baby and thinks he is not capable of doing things for himself - I said to him: But mom must dress you, having difficulty herself doing so? She helped you to shower, standing using a crutch? She must dry you after she has showered you? How she managed, nobody knows! But since them, he is acting "normal" again - even if it takes him almost an hour to wash himself and dress himself - so stubborn!

I really think you are in for a huge surprise! And when they realize that they can not do it, those who yells, yells even better - yelling improves with time, it seems to me with some of these old people!

Good luck!
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When my husband developed dementia, I told all of our children, "Your dad can no longer live alone. If something happens to me, don't listen to him about this matter. He thinks he can be independent, but it just isn't possible."

Nothing happened to me, I'm glad to say, and I cared for him throughout the journey. I can really relate to what your mother told you, and you need to take that seriously!

Many people with dementia deny that they need help, or the extent of the help they need. For short periods they can put on a good show and appear more "normal" than they really are. So you are in a position very familiar to caregivers of persons with dementia.

Dad may have always had a short fused temper, but that may be of greater concern now if irrational things trigger it, and if he has lost his social filters. He may be nastier than you remember him (just maybe) and perhaps even violent when he wasn't before. What you accepted as part of his personality before may need to be addressed medically to keep everyone safe and to make him more comfortable.

So, like the other posters here, I think one of the first steps is a medical exam. Not the day you arrive, but after you've been there long enough to see where the problem issues are. These should be conveyed to the doctor before the exam.

Has Dad been on his own for a year? How did that go?
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How old is your dad?

I also think it's a good time to get dad to the doctor for a complete check-up. "Dad, you've been through a lot with mom, let's get you to the doctor to make sure you're in tip-top shape and we address anything that might be going on. Let the doctor know about his memory issues and his angry outbursts. Also your mom's concerns. Get that info to the doctor before your visit, so he's prepared to deal with dad's issues with no obvious prompting from you.

The stress from dealing with your mom could have affected his memory in a temporary way, or he could be having some cognitive decline that is permanent.

Do you think his doctor is pretty good? Is that doc the one who treated mom? Were you satisfied with her care? If not, it would be a good time to find a doctor who specializes in geriatrics and who knows how to treat older patients.

Good luck and please keep us posted. We all learn from each other.
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When is the last time Dad had a complete physical. If he was busy taking care of Mom, he may have neglected his own health. Try to get that done. While you are waiting for the appointment, living with him will be very informative.
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Of course you won't know what you don't know until your there. But - now would be a good time to make a couple lists, get some stratagies and compile resource contact information. Also develope an exit plan. What are you willing to do and not do - two lists - grocery shopping? Yes. Changing diapers? Hmmm. How are you going to react if dad starts to yell? What's the local government agency that deals with aging and disabilities - what's their phone number? Is there assisted living near by - what are the costs? Get a good elder care attorney lined up - get Durable Power of Attorney for both health and finances. Know who dads doctors are - get dad to sign a Hippa release. Learn as much as you can about dementia before you move and prepare for the worst but hope for the best.
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