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I have asked quiet a few questions dealing with my Mom's dementia in the last little while. She was being up and average of 2 to 3 hrs. a day for at least 2 months. Now for the past month she gets up earlier and stays up later, just out of the wild blue! She picks up the daily newspaper on the couch when she sets down in her chair, and never puts it down all day. She reads the same page and the same story continuous. Yesterday, she had the county paper with a couple pics of convicts and she stared at them all day! Today, it is a coffin draped with the American flag where a law officer is being buried! Is she using this as a cover up to "peep" out from behind it, to see every move I make (I am not allowed out of her sight)? But sometimes I notice she isn't even paying attention, just staring at the paper. Has anyone experienced anything like this before? I think I am going to go stark raving crazy before any of the conditions around our home ever changes for the better. HELP! Any advice?

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I had a book made for my Gma last Christmas (through Shutterfly). It's sort of a story of her life. I put in photos of her as a child, her family, put the names of all her brothers and sisters, parents. Then her wedding photos/info, her children, their wedding and grandchildren and our birth announcements. Then gave it to her for Christmas. She loves it. She loves to look through it, talk about the photos and the memories. She shares it with respite workers and it gives them an insight into her family too. She is also obsessed with word searches. She does them for hours! we buy about 10 books at a time (thank goodness for the dollar store! LOL)

As for the meds. A good idea might be to write down all the meds and the reason she takes them. Also, if possible, crush them up and mix them into foods. Applesauce, ice cream, pudding, yogurt. I did that for awhile when my Gma didn't want to take her meds.
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I meant to ask a new question. Sorry got interrupted.
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How do I help my husband cope with his mother's dementia? She is a strong willed otherwise fairly healthy 88 year old. She provokes "arguing" behavior with him. He spends one night a week at her home since we live almost 200 miles away. If I am with him she is less likely to "argue." She lives alone and insists that she will never leave her house. She will nag him for hours with "I don't want you comiing all this way. I don't need you to come. I am not hurting anyone." If I am there I tell her she is hurting him by saying these things to a loving, caring wonderful son and let's talk about something else. That is usually enough to make her settle down, but if not, she just keeps hearing the exact same thing from me. He tries to reason with her, point out why she needs assistance. She fights back and this can last for hours. He comes home mentally, emotiionally and physically (he takes care of her yard and maintenance as well as all financials) exhausted. Any suggestions on how he might deal with this?
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My Mom does the same thing too. Not all day. When we go to a restaurant I let her stare at the menu for about 15 mins, then I remind her what dish she likes from there!
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My husband looks at the junk mail and his health insurance mail. He thinks the insurance company owes him the amount covered. I explain it to him that its the amount they covered for his medical care. He gets upset then tells me that he will get the money and keep all of it, and not let me have any of it. lol He stares at the same papers all day long and sometimes all night long. I feel like I have to sleep with one eye open. He stays upset alot of the times. God help me to get some rest for work in the morning.
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It's been awhile back since I asked this question and I thank everyone for their helpful and caring answers and to know I am not alone in this situation helps a lot. Now the newspaper is keeping her from going to bed. All day she has "peeped" from behind her newspaper at me. Or, I should say glared. I need to run to the Dollar Store to get my cat's food. You can't explain that to 4 sets of hungry eyes. My husband changed shifts and is working evening shift and with his long drive, he won't be home til around 3 a.m. At 5 p.m. she told me she was going to bed, she brushed her teeth, not once, but twice and came back in and started reading and peeping from behind the newspaper. It is now after 8 o'clock and this is when I do my chores to keep from being watched constantly, and she is still "reading" this crazy paper. She cannot tell you one thing that is in that paper. I have already quizzed her many time and she has not a clue what it says. I am just about ready to get up, say good night and go to bed, or let her set in her rocker and peep from around her paper as I go to the Dollar Store. It is only a mile down the road. I am just tired! My life revolves around everyone elses and I am just about at wit's end right now. Please, does anyone have any suggestions to make this situation better. If I do away with the papers, then she glares at me all day long. I am so frustrated. If this were a new situation, it might be different, but it's been going on for 2 years and 10 months. Thank you in advance!
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My mom does this sort of thing all the time, for hours at a time. It just breaks my heart because she used to love to read and now she just can't. She kept nearly every card and letter anyone in the family ever gave her(we're talking hundreds of cards) and every now I then i give her a stack of cards to look at and she'll happily sit and sort through them for hours. That seems to make her happier than the newspaper, which just frustrates her.
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The question and comments proved helpful to me. What ever pleases my wife is okay with me as long as she does not hurt herself or others. I try to go with the flow.
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My mom "reads" the newspapers, but really seems to read the headlines over and over. She'll repeat them out loud over and over, but there doesn't seem to be much comprehension. She saves days and days of newspapers, saying she is going to read them later. I know she isn't reading them. I let a certain amt of them build up and then throw them away. Sometimes she tells me to "take them to Daddy, he wants to read them". She's referring to my father, who died almost a year ago and she can't remember that he died. So I tell her that he'll enjoy them and I'll take them to him. That seems to satisfy her. She can't follow the TV news either. She can be watching TV and think that what's she's watching is happening right outside her apt. She can't tell the difference between a TV show and the news. I think reading the newspaper is a familiar behavior that makes them think that they're looking normal. I just go along with it and keep paying for her to have the newspaper delivered to her at her memory care unit. My very best to you!
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What she has is dementia. Staring at a newspaper is her brain's way of trying to make sense of the writing, but it cannot. THIS IS NOT ABOUT YOU! She's not watching you, she probably doesn't know who you are and wonders what this stranger is doing in her house. Check some books out from the library (free) and read about her symptoms. Not everyone presents with the same identical symptoms, so you will just have to accept what she does. Calm down. It will be over sooner than you think and you will have missed this time with her. She will exhibit "sundowners" where she will be up all night. With doctor's permission a little dose of melatonin would help with sleep. It is over the counter and costs about $3. Try to learn as much as you can. Good luck!
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My fil does this and agree that it is merely a ritual. He has no comprehension. It is just something to do and fill a void for him. I think he just zones out but this allows him to feel normal in front of others. He watches tv but doesn't seem to get anything out of it. He likes photo albums of he and his family when he was a little boy. This seems to be pleasurable for him. I advise to just keep photo books handy and not worry about it. This is the cognitive degeneration.
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kdwildflower, why don't you go ahead and start a new post with that question. It may get more attention that way, from people who don't have a "reader."
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ooops, that might have been a new question.. sorry.
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jeannegibbs, thank you for your ideas. I will try that. What would you do when she brings up things that are in the recent past... 2 years...and gets angry and says that "no one told me that! Everyone tries to keep me in the dark!!" and I have to spend another hour reminding her of the thing that she has forgotten. I'm worn out. And about once a month she will ask why she has to take all her meds... I have to spend another hour explaining each pill to her. her doctor told her and me that I need to have the meds and dispense them but she won't let me.. she throws a fit. I need to learn to go ahead and DO these things without feeling guilty or upset about it. How do I do that?
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yes my husband does this quietly now. He used to rant about what he was reading, but now just sits and stares at the papers all day. He can read but does not understand what he is reading. The phone is another story. Ugg! I think they are trying to understand and comprehend. He used to read aloud to us all day, and we had to remind him to read to himself. I thank God im not living alone with this situation. Our grown son is here to witness this too, My husband is just 56.
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My mother does this, too, reading the same thing for days but really, not reading and probably not comprehending even what she has in her hand. When I hand her a piece of mail addressed to her, she will read our address over and over asking 'Is that us?' And when she wants to stare at me, she does. However at this point, she apparently doesn't see me unless I move.....creepy......I guess this is all very routine for dementia, but for us caregivers it is a bit startling sometimes...
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kdwildflower, losing the concept of time seems to be common, at least to certain kinds of dementia. It wasn't so bad for my husband but my mother seems to have NO sense of the passing of time. That is a tough one to deal with. I wonder if it would help to set a clock in front of you both and say, "I'd love to listen to you read. I can stay until 3:30 and then I have to start supper." Then "Thank you for reading to me. I enjoy that. Now I have to start supper. You can keep reading to yourself." Personally, I don't think I could listen to 2 sentences for 3 or 4 hours and retain my sanity. I hope you can come up with ways to minimize that chore without hurting MIL's feelings.

What a journey!
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my mother in law does the same thing. I take care of her 24/7 because we recently moved in with her. She reads the newspaper and all of the magazines that she gets from all the medical supply companies or vitamin companies, etc. She is reads like that for up to 10 hours a day! Then she wants me to sit quietly while she reads the ads to me!!! And it takes about 15 minutes for her to read 2 sentences. I have gotten so frustrated with it, and I'm trying to try new ways to deal with it.. because she wants me to sit and listen to her for an hour or two or three... it seems like she has lost the concept of time. I have even walked away while she is talking and it doesn't seem to make any difference. I have 4 children and my husband, who is in bad health also, to take care of!
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When I worked with dementia/Alz residents, pleasant picture books or a magazine that hones in on a previous interest are the best......yes, very sad but part of the process, unfortunately. I used to get so angry when families would visit & quiz their loved one on what they were reading......just go with it as long as it doesn't agitate! Sometimes old family pics will divert them to the "old times" & hopefully pleasant memories. I also would not put the news on or noisy shows during sundowning hours.......
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My father would sit a couple of hours with the paper, but not really read it. My mother will also try to read, but have to read the same thing over and over. It never sinks in, but she tries. Reading is hard for older people, particularly when there is dementia. If she seems to enjoy sitting with the paper, I wouldn't worry too much. It may be because it is familiar to her, so helps her feel a bit more balanced. Sitting all day with it is a lot, so I understand your concern. I just don't know what the best thing to replace it with might be.

My father used to work crossword puzzles. Every day he would do the one in the newspaper. In his last months of life, he couldn't work the puzzles as well, but still he would sit with his pen in hand over the puzzle. It is probably because it was familiar to him and he wasn't ready to give up working puzzles just yet.
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My MIL used to go to bed with a book every night. It had been a ritual for years and years. She enjoyed it and like to fall asleep while reading. But, we did notice how she never finished a book - read the same page over and over. This is an obvious sign of cognitive decline - and truly sad when you think about it. As Jeanne suggested - try a magazine - I used to do this with my MIL. We would sit at the table with a favorite magazine (Victoria) which we both enjoyed.

It would generate conversations into gardening which she loved as well as cooking and home decorating. I had saved many of my old copies, so on many days, they were a life saver and she truly enjoyed them.

And as Jeanne mentioned, if she wanted to watch you - she just plain would, right? Maybe not, but that is what my MIL did - she was always watching us - it was a challenge to deal with, to say the least. Take care.
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First, try not to get your hopes up that conditions will change for the better. They will change. Sometimes the new conditions will be less stressful for you than the old conditions, but sometimes they will be worse. It is just the nature of dementia, and not anything you are doing or not doing.

My husband used to "read" the same piece of paper for long periods of time. It could be anything handy -- the newspaper, a piece of junk mail advertising eye glasses, a recipe, a magazine cover. He did not do this day after day -- just periodically. I took it as a sign he was having a "bad day" cognitively and tried to keep everything easy for him. (In the very early days of his dementia he would sometimes "read" the piece of paper upside down. Definitely a bad day.)

It might be more pleasant for Mom if you handed her a magazine with fun pictures, such as the one about birds or another nature magazine. That might be nicer than staring at convict's pictures. But it really might not matter. She may not be taking in what she is seeing in any case.

I suppose this could be a cover for watching you, but it doesn't sound like it. If she wanted to watch you, wouldn't she just do it?

The disease is what it is. No behavior, no matter how strange, is really surprising.

Feel free to keep popping on here to compare notes with other caregivers.
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