So do we force him to do these things when he doesn't want to? It may or may not improve his memory... who knows. He says he is not depressed. He just wants to enjoy his life, eat what he wants, hang out and watch tv. Should we force him to do all this? Clearly, mom wants to do everything she can to stall the Alzheimer's and keep him around longer but he doesn’t want to do all of this. Advice?

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My folks are in their late 70's. Dad is just starting to show early short-term memory loss. He's joked that when he gets to the point where he doesn't recognize us or is going downhill, that he wants to go quick. He says bring on the cigars, alcohol, and fried chicken. Honestly, we're all kind of in agreement with him. Medicine hasn't advance enough yet to be much help for their generation, so why be miserable and incapacitated? We've watched other relatives go through this, and it's so hard to watch the down hill decline. No one likes to watch it, no one likes to be the patient going thru it.
I know this sounds weird :-)
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Reply to boehmec

There is early evidence that eating a high fat, low carb diet has a positive impact on brain health. I am not sure the "brain games" are that helpful but formation of amyloid plaques are impacted by high sugar diets. I would absolutely support the diet change if she is following guidelines on diet similar to those in Dr. Dale Bredesen's protocol. My husband and I are incorporating these principles in our own diet. This is not just eating "healthy". People think brown rice is healthy. But it is not. I wish I could have started my inlaws on this diet as well as my mother. I don't know that it can help very advanced disease as the brain may be too far gone. But it is absolutely worth trying. TV watching is not an issue but lack of exercise is a problem. And you can still enjoy lots of food while still following this protocol.
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Reply to dogparkmomma

While that is a valiant effort on your mom's part, he probably won't be able to play brain games as that is lost to the Alzheimer's patient. I.e. my sister in law with the disease (dx'd 2017) has REAL trouble with technology - like dialing a phone number, at al. Also let him have comfort foods UNLESS it's a sure bet that any food product will reverse the effects of the disease and of course, they can't.
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Reply to Llamalover47

Hi Argagoort, it's a little too much for dad, I think. (My mother did same thing to my dad, cuz he was watching his sodium). But he snuck around trying to enjoy his favorite salami sndwhiches,... when she was out.
Would you be able to talk to your mother so she would lay-off the nagging? (Also, hav a chat with dad, just to encourage him, & let him know u love him. Prob he won't get too 'down' that way. (Good memories mean a lot later).
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Reply to anonymous828521
DizzyBritches Oct 24, 2019
Tiger, I find myself doing the same thing with my husband. I feel like SuperNag sometimes.
My husband likes salty cold cuts too. I can’t say that I blame him.
Most studies show that "memory games" etc, and past intelligence have little too nothing to do with the progression of ALZ. My dad was genius.. degrees from Oxford and a teacher, worked outside and was very active. He got ALZ in his 60s, and nothing slowed it down. Mom was in denial for a long time.. Now she is showing signs of memory loss, could be age related.. She does crossword puzzles all day long, reads,,game shows.. you name it! She is still declining..
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Reply to pamzimmrrt

My answer will be from a slightly different angle, not because I think any of these responses are lacking. In fact, much good advice here.

I don’t know your whole story, ages of your parents, who is doing the most work here, etc. So, take the following with a grain of salt:)

My first thought is that this may be something to refrain from getting in the middle of entirely. Unless both of them invite you into this, you may want to let them navigate this on their own. For some odd reason, when I read this, I immediately had an image of my thought process if my kids were poking into our business/marriage in this manner. It wouldn’t be pretty. (Of course, if your mom has dementia as well, this would be a different story. Keeping people safe is different from a husband being miffed because his wife is having him eat vegetables and get away from the TV now and again.)

No one is being hurt. If dad is annoyed, so be it. It happens in a marriage. She certainly isn’t hurting him. And you really don’t know the private conversations between them. He may be telling her that he is scared, that he wants to do what he can to fix this, that he feels helpless and needs her to be his “brain”. He may then turn around and complain to you.

Provided their marriage is at least relatively decent, she knows him better than you do and they have their own private world that no one can walk with them.

You may want to offer to help in whatever manner they both WANT you to, but tell dad you aren’t going to get in the middle of anything to do with their relationship. It isn’t yours to fix, if that makes sense.

I know all of us are so used to dealing with elders that have gotten to the point of acting like toddlers that we sometimes forget that not all older folks are indeed acting like toddlers. Mom is CARING for her sick husband. And, it sounds like he has enough marbles left that he has some responsibility in this to continue to be a husband to his wife. This isn’t all about him. She may be sick of him staring at the TV all day. She may have to clean up messes that come from a poor diet (I know we experienced this.) Let him do what he wants sounds lovely, but there are two of them in this relationship, and the relationship is truly theirs.

Unless your mom is hurting him or neglecting him, I don’t see where this becomes an issue for someone’s children to get involved. Not that I blame you for asking the question. You are obviously doing it out of love. Nothing wrong with the intention AT ALL. I just thought I would throw out a different perspective that you may not have considered.

We hear a lot about mom not being able to fix this. Yet, if she weren’t trying, I’d bet her kids would be wondering why she doesn’t care:) She is trying to do right by your dad, at least that is what I am hearing. She may need to let up over time. But, I am thinking that whether or not she decides to do that will have to come from the two of them working through this rather than her kids pooh-poohing her attempts to take care of her husband.

Again, I am not speaking this in insult. I hope you can hear that, even though I know it is hard to do online.

Your mom is going through her own version of hell with this. I don’t know if he is a great husband or a jerk or somewhere in between. Or if she is a shrew or an angel or somewhere in between. But, laughing with both of them is a great gift you can give them now. As is, supporting her without condescending to her. Not taking sides. Remembering that they have been dealing with each other’s junk long before you came along. Listening to what she is telling you instead of imposing what you think should happen. (Again, if the judgement is still there.)

Finally, I wish you the best. What you are going through as offspring is also incredibly difficult. Just try to remember that her role in this will be more challenging than you will be able to imagine. For every one thing you see, she will deal with 20 more just like it.
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Reply to 499HopeFloats

I doubt you will be able to reason with your mother. One of my best friends was going to beat the disease. She had him going from one hyperbaric treatment to another doctor. He ended up trying to run away. When she called the cops, he ran to the cops to help him get away from her. He ended up in a lock down facility. She would cook him full meals and bring them to the Memory Care facility every day. She pushed vitamins, etc. When he needed to go to the next level down she fought to keep him where he was. Finally when he couldn't eat, she was still trying to push Ensure down him. Ensure that he couldn't swallow, that would just run down his chin. She kept saying he wasn't going to die on her watch. He died anyway.

She wouldn't listen to anyone. You might eventually have to move your dad so he can have some peace in his life. My heart goes out to all of you. It is so hard.

I am going in for some out patient surgery tomorrow. My daughter will take me. Hubby doesn't know if he wants to go or not. I am leaving it up to him. What will he do? just sit in a waiting room all day with nothing to do. If the worst happens and I have problems, he can't help anyway, his planning and thinking skills are not what they used to be. My daughter has alternate POA and she knows how I feel. I am for whatever keeps him comfortable.

For your part and her part also. Find out all you can about the house. If on a sewer, where is the line, if a Septic tank, where is it? If a sprinkler system, which valve goes where. Start preparing your mom to take care of the house on her own. I have started a folder on those things and who we use for repair people..
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Reply to MaryKathleen
TekkieChikk Oct 24, 2019
That is really excellent advice on keeping records on how the house works. Very smart idea.

Videos are another way to document things like this, especially now with smart phones having that capability... I made a video a few years ago of my husband explaining how to start the snowblower haha... I haven't actually had to use it on my own yet, but if I do, now I'll know!
Daddy had Parkinsons' a similarly acting disease. Mother had him doing the little puzzles she had for the g-kids--a cow with a little handle on it and a matching space for it. Word puzzles and games for 3 yo's, One day I was with him and mother had left these 'games' for him and as soon as she shut the door he picked up the puzzles and threw them across the floor. "D-it woman, I am NOT a toddler!!" My heart ached for him. He was deteriorating and the games & things didn't help at all. In fact, I know it made him feel worse. I never forced him to do anything. We mostly watched TV and I had a set of RoadRunner cartoons he could watch over and over and he LOVED that. Also, if I had heard a dirty joke (SOOO out of my wheelhouse) he wanted to hear it. I think he loved to push my buttons.

I know he liked me to come b/c mom was driving him batty. And he was driving her batty. She took his picture down the day he was buried and it wasn't put again until one of the grandkids asked if Nano had been married, Broke my heart that she wouldn't even put a picture up of him.

I understand the dynamic. She has been "ill" (mentally) all the years of their marriage and he didn't fuss her one iota. B/C there was nothing physically wrong with her and he was working HARD to provide STUFF for her--and her pseudo-sickness just drove him nuts. HE gets ill and she has to step up and care for him and she resents the hell out of him.

Didn't help that she had been a D- mom and suddenly needed all of us kids to step up and help our beloved father. We were totally worn out fetching and steppin to care for mother for 30 years!! It was a JOY to care for my loving, appreciative dad.
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Reply to Midkid58
anonymous828521 Oct 23, 2019
True Midkid58,👍same here. Poor dad.
Seems mom is scared and not ready for the losses of function that come with this disease.

Healthy lifestyle does tend to be associated with less chance of developing Alzheimer's disease. If dad already has cognitive function problems, it is probably Alzheimer's type dementia. The only treatment that helps is taking the meds. They can keep dad's cognition functioning normally longer. At some point, the meds stop working.

May I suggest that mom spend her time enjoying being with dad.

If she needs to feel more in control of this disease, she could research: local resources, care/housing/home health options, methods for dealing with cognition problems and behaviors as they occur. It might be best to help her with the research and only talk to dad about it after you and she have settled on a plan of care.

Meanwhile, love your dad as he is. Help to "capture memories" by creating scrapbooks, wall of photos of family and friends with captions, asking him to tell his stories of his life (so you can reminisce with him when the details become fuzzy)...
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Reply to Taarna

The only thing I push on my mom is some protein at every meal which seems to keep the moods more balanced and only 1 glass of wine if she pushes for it. I encourage word find puzzles, but nothing is going to change the diagnosis, the progression or the outcome. I get your mom is scared and probably needs to feel some control. She just needs to let go and enjoy her husband the way he is now for as long as he is in this stage. Trying to control too much can bring out tension and possibly a nasty side to dad. I’ve heard terrible things from my mom over the last 3 years and it’s hard to push them aside. So your mom should just love on him and enjoy her time with him. Play their favorite music, maybe dance around the living room and reminisce over old photos. She’ll cherish those memories more than what foods she got him to eat or puzzles to play. We all feel helpless; we can only make them feel safe and loved one day at a time.
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Reply to Caregiving2

I'm sorry your dad has this terrible disease.

You can't force him to do these things. How would you do that? He's an adult. I don't know how it would play out if you pushed him too hard, but I can't imagine it would be a positive experience for anyone. I think it would be sadder to cause conflict during a time when your father is still *himself*, and to lose that time in a power struggle.

Parents of older teenagers who want their kids to maintain a healthy diet try to provide appealing healthy meals. They make healthy snacks convenient. They model good eating habits. Your mother could do the same.

Your mother could also play the "brain games" she wants your dad to play. (I have yet to see any peer-reviewed research to back claims of success in slowing the progression of dementia.) She could model the behavior she wants him to adopt. If she thinks it would be good for him, it would be good for her as well.

She can ask him (occasionally) to play these brain games with her, or alongside her, because *she* wants him to do it. She can tell him it will make her feel better and that he could do it *for her*. If he resists, she could push him, but at what cost?

Your mother might benefit from a support group and some counseling to realize that there is only so much she can control. Watching from the outside is probably the hardest part.
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Reply to TXGirl82

There's nothing wrong with a healthy diet, but changing habits is difficult, especially when it is coming from another person's concern and his brain isn't all there anyway. I see one woman at my mom's assisted living play scrabble every day. She does seem in the world more than my mom, who cannot stay with a book or a puzzle for more than a few minutes any more. There is no way to know if the scrabble is helping or if the woman's dementia is slow to advance for another reason. Exercise I think is the best medicine, but even with that my mom declined. I fed her a healthy diet when I lived with her and had her take a walk every day, do some floor exercises, and stay tuned into the newspaper and puzzles, but she mostly just wanted to watch out the front window or sit on the porch to survey the neighborhood. In assisted living they let her eat whatever she wants and that is mostly sweets. The decline does not seem to happen any faster with the sugar, so I gave up that fight. However, my former department chair and friend was supposed to be dead by now from early onset Alzheimer's, but still remembers everyone at parties and is doing quite well at home. He is not anywhere near death ten years after his diagnosis. I know for a fact that he eats a special diet and exercises. So, who knows? With my mom, what makes her happy is to go for rides in the car or sit on the front porch of the assisted living home. Somehow the looking into the distance is good for her mood anyway.
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Reply to ArtistDaughter

I do not believe that a spouse has the right to choose a course of treatment. Your dad should be able to live his life the way he chooses. If he doesn’t want to play brain games or eat a special diet he shouldn’t have to. Your mom needs to face the fact that she cannot fix him. She’s causing friction unnecessarily.
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Reply to UsedupDIL

I agree with other's advice and am replying because my dad is doing similar to what your mom is doing. I know he is heartbroken and is desperate to fix this for his beloved wife. It breaks my heart to see his attempts, but also gets frustrating. He tries to get mom to read or do puzzles but she gets annoyed that he is pushing her. Then he in turn gets frustrated at her for not trying harder. They squabble back and forth. My dad refuses to reach out for support even though he is utterly exhausted and gets emotional to the point of tears very easily. It is taking its toll on him and it all makes me immensely sad. I hope your mom finds support in her caretaker role. I hope you do too, as you will be a support to them both. I believe this is a degenerative disease that currently has no cure. I do not believe just throwing up our hands and giving caution to the wind is helpful, but I also believe this disease will still run its course regardless. Someone mentioned a happy medium, which I think would be great.
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Reply to GingerMay

Grandma1954 makes a good point about caretakers wanting to "fix" a LO by feeding them or by implementing constructive activities. Certainly include healthy foods and activities where you can, but allow your husband ample freedom to make his own choices. Efforts to "feed and fix" are more an attempt to make the caretaker feel good than they are likely to have any real impact on the LO's disease progression.
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Reply to RedVanAnnie

It’s tough - you don’t want to feel you’re giving up on the person, but in my experience the disease just marched on. My husband always exercised and ate healthy and after the diagnosis of MCI, he saw a speech pathologist to help with memory tips and did brain games on the iPad. He also tried piano lessons as music was supposed to help. When these activities were frustrating, he stopped. After a while we just concentrated on making memories - trip to the beach, nature walk, ride to get hot fudge sundaes, until he couldn’t do those things anymore. I’m sorry.
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Reply to Franklin2011

I'm with your mom. I try to do things like this for my mom, with mild cognitive decline. I do think that the good food and supplements and games are probably helping keep her from declining too much.

I'm not one for just giving up and letting nature take it's course without a fight.

So, I'm not sure what the proper balance between your mom wanting to help your dad and your dad just wanting to do what he does.
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Reply to againx100
TXGirl82 Oct 23, 2019
I think the proper balance is to allow a person in early stages to make his own decisions.
I doubt that what she trying to do will help him one bit. My feeling is that he should be able to do what he wants while he can, if he is getting stressed by all of this, that certainly is a determent to him.

Your mother should find a good support group to help her navigate through this difficult process.
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Reply to DollyMe

Poor Mom.She's feeling desperate. It is so unlikely that this will help at this point. I wonder if you could take her to the doctor to help her to understand that. It surely isn't worth making his life miserable. I suggested brain puzzle games book to my bro. He is stubborn enough to give me the "no" I could quickly understand. I understand both Mom and Dad on this one. But I hope there will be at least a happy medium. Is there ANYTHING he enjoys? For instance, would he enjoy a game of scrabble with her? I think often this just becomes fear and frustration for the one afflicted. The other day my bro told me how hard writing letters is and that he will get stuck on the spelling of the most simple words. He asked me "Should I be worried or is this just part of the package" and I said "Just the package, likely will change tomorrow". Which so far is true for him. Anxiety only hurts him. You might tell Mom that.
As far as a diet, there is none that is assured to work for Alzheimer's.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

How about a "happy medium"
Try to get her to incorporate some of the "healthy" foods with each meal but allow him to enjoy some of the things he loves.
Play Scrabble, do some of the other games on a "game night" but another day she should settle down with him and watch TV and hold his hand (if he will let her snuggle up next to him..he may not allow that soon so she should take advantage now)
Your mom is dong what moms do.."fix", "make you better".
"We" are taught from an early age when you were little and you got a cold, eat the soup "it will make you feel better", you had your tonsils out.."eat the ice cream, it will make you feel better" you had a bad breakup with your first love.."eat a pint of ice cream" ....
It is difficult to understand that this is something that we can not "fix"
It is heartbreaking to know that you are going to watch this person disappear.
Your mom needs to find a GOOD support group, they are the ones that will understand what she is going through. They will be able to help her deal with the declines he has.

Now might also be the time to talk to an Elder Care Attorney and make sure all the papers are in order for what is to come.
If he is a Veteran contact the VA and see what if anything they can offer that will help.
If there is a possibility that there may need to be an application for Medicaid submitted find out what needs to be done (Elder Care Attorney will help with that if needed)

And it will take time for your mom to realize that no matter what she does or tries to do nothing will stop the decline or make him better or reverse the damage that has been done.
Helpful Answer (13)
Reply to Grandma1954

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