My mother is 85 and over the last year she has deteriorated mentally. One of her major infatuations is with medication. Before she had dementia, she hardly ever took Tylenol and same for things like antacids. Now she has this neverending desire to take medicine. And it's like every week she finds a way to test how secure I've made my caregiving fortress (for lack of a better word). I had long ago taken over the distribution of her doctor prescribed medication. But last week I noticed she was always complaining of a headache and saying "let me take a Tylenol". After hearing this about 3 times, I went to find the Tylenol and found she had taken quite a bit of them. My heart SANK....After dealing with that medical emergency. Along comes this week. I'd confiscated everything at this point. Or so I thought. Because I happen to be taking her evening meds to her and see she's drinking something from a cup and she's foaming at the mouth. I ask her what is she doing and at that point she clearly figured out she wasn't supposed to be doing whatever it was and spit it out into the cup (the cup was still full so I know she hadn't consumed any or much). She tells me she was taking an alka seltzer. Ummmm...we have no alka seltzers in our house. So I look around and lord help me. She's put a denture tablet into water and is thinking it's an alka seltzer. I swear I'm gonna strip everything from her room except a bare mattress and a lightbulb swinging from the center of the room. One of my coworker's has a grandmother with dementia and she said to me these words "they might forget a lot, but one thing they never forget is to make their beds, pay bills, and take medicine". No truer words have ever been said. My mother's bed is ALWAYS immaculate (now my bed?? let's not talk about that right now....). She starts working on getting her church offering envelope filled out and money inside on Thursdays and does it several times a day until Sunday comes (which she then has misplaced and I end up redoing one to hand actually hand in)..And as mentioned, she LOVES medicine (she complains of a headache and if I look her in her eye and calmly ask, "what hurts momma" she'll say "I'm not hurting. I feel fine") Why is she so focused on taking medication?!?!?
Mom is apparently at a stage where she recognizes something is wrong. She is confused. Things that used to make sense don't now. She doesn't exactly "hurt" but she is very uncomfortable with the changes she is experiencing.
Often when persons with dementia reach this level of vague understanding that something is wrong with them they exhibit anger and frustration or depression.
Your mother may be "reasoning" -- "There is something wrong with me. I need some medicine." In a way she is on target when she complains of a headache -- the damage is in her brain, though not necessarily causing pain there.
What I would do in your situation,Babygirl, (I think) is
1) acknowledge her discomfort. "I'm so sorry you are not feeling right today."
2) assure her that you will be there to help her. She will never have to cope alone.
3) do whatever seems to make her feel better -- to make her feel she is being taken seriously. If placebos accomplish that, go for it.
4) unless you plan on reporting to a doctor, don't try to pin her down about what is wrong -- she probably can't articulate it
Here's the kind of thing I'd try. "Mother, I have learned about a great tonic that helps prevent headaches and generally feeling bad. You can take it once a day, in the afternoon, with a little food." Mid afternoon I'd serve a small glass of Tonic water, and a cookie or cracker or apple wedges. "Just enough so you are not taking the tonic on an empty stomach." If Mom doesn't like the tonic I'd keep the serving size very small. If she enjoys it I'd gradually increase the amount. Just a little afternoon therapy to help her remember that I take her discomfort seriously and want to help with it.
(If she pokes around in the fridge, I'd make a nice medicine label for my bottle of tonic water.)
Have a look at www dot pillsvscandy dot org there is a quiz there which although it is designed as a warning will give you great ideas if you are worried that Mum might take too many of the tablets and you can avoid that with candy
Similar scenario with my mother. Somehow she thinks she is detouring the Grim Reaper with all sorts of meds and vitamins. She is 90. I asked her doctor, "With elders, isn't less more?" She nodded her head. She didn't even attempt to say anything to my mother (and now this doctor has left the practice). So my mother continues to take all sorts of this stuff, is fat-phobic, follows the Coumadin diet like a zealot, and still thinks Lean Cuisine is a good dinner.
I keep all my mother's medicines in my room. She could go in and get them if I'm not home, but she doesn't do that. She lets me manage her medications without any objection. (It wasn't always that way. It was a real problem when I first got here. It took over two years for her to let me start managing them.)
Oh babygirlga, thanks for bringing a smile with your postings :) If we didn't laugh, we would be crying.