How do I help my Mom remember?

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My Mom has dementia, and I know her memory is getting worse and worse every day. She calls me my Daughter's name, my daughter has become me, my boys get called each other or their Uncles, or Grandfather's name. And she usually has no idea who my husband of 17 years is. My Dad gets called his Dads name, and so much more! I have color coded her medicine and my Dad or I help her with it. But is there a trick I can help her with remember stuff?

This morning, when I came over to check on them she almost put the phone in the pantry instead of its cradle. We all laughed about it, but what if it ends up there someday and she cant find it when she needs it?

I just need someway to help her remember.

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Gypsy4T - overtime it was clear my mother couldn't use the phone. She started dialing foreign countries with her inability to dial until I blocked that feature on her phone. Eventually I had to move to technologies that didn't involve her actions. I started to use Skype set up with an auto answer feature, so she could get calls and see people. My Mom now lives with me. I set up Skype on my TV for my sister to call and that works, because Mom doesn't have to do anything, but talk, which I am sure she will lose that ability soon.
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Thanks all. What has been helpful with my Mom is just to remind her our names. She will call me my daughter's name, and I just say "No Mom, Annie's at school. Its Gypsy." I found the phone in the freezer yesterday, I don't know where Ill find it tomorrow, but ah well. I love her.
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My mother's memory has been noticeably better since she's started drinking 65 ounces of water/day. Her doctors insisted because they felt this was part of her memory problem, was affecting her kidneys, etc... So, there are things you can encourage that help the memory, if there's a medical reason.

The other thing I wanted to say is that it's important to prioritize - don't try to make a person remember too many things or it's not going to work. One thing my mom just can't remember, is where to find empty plastic bags. I keep lots of them under the bathroom sink. She wants to hang them from the doorknob of her bedroom. She says she can't find them, otherwise. I gave in on this. It might look tidy for me to have them under the sink, but she discovered her own way to find them when she needs them and there's no good reason not to let her do it.
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Something that has been helping with my mother's memory is that she is eating bacon and eggs for breakfast now. She had been eating frozen waffles with sugar-free syrup (she's diabetic). We get warned away from cholesterol in foods like eggs and bacon, and maybe it will be bad for her long-term. They seem to benefit her short-term, though. My mother has an unusual form of dementia that is mainly loss of reasoning ability with some memory loss. I don't know if dietary changes would help other people with dementia, but it seems to be helping her.

Her new doctor wanted to do a fasting cholesterol on her. I know my mother's cholesterol is borderline high, but tests on the LDL particle size are not done at the clinic. I told the doctor I didn't see much point in the test if it didn't distinguish the particle size. Clinics still have a way to go to catch up with the science. There are good and bad LDLs -- they're not all bad. She is benefiting from a high cholesterol breakfast, if only in the short term. My mother is 88, has dementia, and is in poor health. I am not as concerned with the long-term as I am the short-term. I don't want her to stop eating her bacon and eggs and go on a statin drug, especially with no information about the cholesterol particle size.
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First of all, the name thing is the hardest thing for anyone. There's a difference between calling people by a variety of names and in knowing basically who they are. I wouldn't worry too much about the names, themselves, as long as she seems to know who you are.

For the phone, some cordless landline phones have a "locate" button where you can press a button at the base and hear the phone ring. I'd make sure I set the phone to maximum ring so that, when it gets lost, that it's easier to find.

If you can, get her to do the things that help her to remember. Two big tips from a class my mom and I took was: 1) place notes at the place where you will remember, not necessarily in a notebook; 2) don't be too hard on yourself - stressing out about memory makes it worse.

If it's important, I place the note. Mom can't eat or take her other medications before her osteoporosis medication that she takes once/week and she can't remember that - it was her habit to get up and eat a banana. I put a sign on her bathroom mirror the night before that pill (then remove it after she takes it). I drape a sign over her other pills. I put a sign draped over the bananas. It took three weeks for this to work. So, don't get discouraged if things don't work, the first time.

She can only remember what she sees, so we put things we needs for the day right by her. Even then, she doesn't see them, sometimes. On the bad days, I tell her to look right next to her to the left for her book because, on a bad day, she doesn't see it next to her - doesn't think to look.

She writes appointments on her calendar but this does her little good because she doesn't know what day it is. I bought a cheap clock at Aldi that shows the date, as well as the time. Some days, she remembers to use the clock so that she can figure out the day, other days, she doesn't remember the clock is next to her.

She misplaces her nail file so I put one in each room that she might use it in and try to insist she leave it there. Every once in awhile, I end up having to buy yet another one, but I'm persistent.

Some of this is about persistence and reminding a person at the time they need you to on a regular basis. I'm surprised but this has helped my mom remember certain things most of the time - just by me being persistent about her changing her habits. At the same time, I can't depend on it - once in awhile, she'll forget and I just have to be watchful for that, if it's something important.

For example, most days, Mom can figure out what medicine to take and when. When I walk by her pill box, I glance down to make sure the right day of pills is now gone. Once in awhile, she forgets and her doctors said it's okay as long as it's just once in awhile, so I just tell her what's happened but don't make too big a deal of it.

Mom uses incontinence pads. She would stack one on her clothes, the night before, so that she could carry it to the bathroom. She forgets and sometimes throws the entire stack in the hamper. Even though I look for them, too many ended up all over a load of clothes, in the filter of the wash machine, etc... Now, I insist these can only be stored in the bathrooms - none in her room. So far, she hasn't taken them out of the bathroom. After all, it's only the bathroom where she needs them, but a couple times as forgotten they're under the sink and asked me to order more - I have to remind her.

But, you can only do what you can - some of it you just have to laugh of or find ways to enforce something that's safe for the person. If she forgets where she lives and wanders, you can't depend on her in that regard, any longer. People who wander are extremely likely to do it, again. Mom only did it, once, but we will now forever have an alarm on the front door ($10-$13 for a "travel style" alarm and it's not that easy for someone who is losing dexterity to disarm it, especially in the dark).
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I did not address you comment ,"I just need someway to help her remember."

My husband suffers from several mental ailments, one of which is Solvent Dementia....I am always telling him that I am in his life to remind him, when I am not the enemy. BEEN A HEAVENLY 3 WEEKS HERE. No enemy's around-smile! THANK YOU 'THY INFINITE ONE. '
Truly, do what you can & accept what you handed. They are all gifts of sorts.
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OK, here we go. I use to call my daughter Kimberly, Kelly & called my daughter Kelly, Kimberly all there life's. They both are in Spirit now.
I over saw the care of my father when he passed. I am a R.N., & also color coated the bottles of his meds. That was 20 years ago. It worked for a bit then I called hospice in.
I wish to tell you, I can recall when my kid's were little & I was working insane hours. I would put the carton of milk in the cabinet with the glasses...just did it once but the phone comment reminded me. Maybe we all are a bit unbalanced.
Laugh, laugh & keep laughing for it is the music of the Soul. So says Kahlil Gibran.
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Gypsy; Has the doctor told you what KIND of dementia your mom has? Knowing the specific type can often help with the interventions that you carry out. Is she on any meds for depression or anxiety?
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I know I'm not going to 'fix' it. I just want to help. It wasn't a cell phone she tried to put in the pantry. It was a cordless landline. I wont let her use her cell phone unless I am right with her. We had a corded land line, but then she ripped it out of the wall because she was furious that her "cell phone was tied up." My Mom is still in the early stages of dementia, she still has more good days then bad. On her bad days it is really bad. One day she was scared of me, because she thought I was a ghost. She knew her Mom was dead, but she thought I was her Mom. That day was bad. She kept on crying and screaming that I, "The Demon" shouldn't hurt her. The name with the pictures is a great idea. I'm going to try it. Now just to keep the phone out of the pantry...
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i agree with ba8a,
the more you read about dementia the smoother the ride will be for all involved .
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