Our 90 yr old mom has been showing signs of dementia for more than 10 years. In 2007 she was diagnosed with probable A/D. My bachelor brother and I bought a home together so we could care for her, and my now 50 yr. old son, who suffered a severe traumatic brain injury 21 years ago. Mom picked out the house and my son feels like the luckiest guy in the world because his room is next to his mom's and grandma's. They have been joined at the hip since the night he was born and share many of the same cognitive deficits and interests. As mom's illness has progressed they have enjoyed each others company a great deal and have, for years, watched all the old comedy sitcoms on tv laughing and having a great time. My son has helped with mom's care in the many ways that he is able and our family has actually had a pretty wonderful and unique journey with our mom as her illness evolves. However, recently she has begun withdrawing (that's what I think), because of memory issues she gets upset when we, or her caregivers, try to get her up in the morning or go to the bathroom or have her take a shower (which is down to once a week, fine with me as she gets a good sponge bath every day). She is always sure she has just eaten and lunch and supper have become very difficult. I know it has something to do with her memory loss and I can usually redirect her outbursts, with a good long kiss on the lips until I get her laughing, or in a variety of other ways. I want to minimize her anxiety as much as possible. No matter how much I read about dementia & A/D, I have a very difficult time knowing what the changes mean or what to expect next. Our philosophy has been to keep our mother as comfortable, feeling loved and as secure as possible, healthy and happy. We have, for the most part, been successful. I am wondering if she is withdrawing, and if this is leading to even less involvement in life. I think I would be better able to handle it If I understood where we are in the decline and what to expect next. I have been a primary caregiver for many people in my life during the past 21 years, both with dementia and with end of life cancer. I know I can let go of my mom when the time comes and be incredibly grateful for the wonderful, loving time we have shared through most of these past 10 years. I just am never sure if there is something more I can/should do to try to stimulate her and try to help her be more involved. We have lots of help at home because mom purchased most excellent long term care insurance and my brother was able to help her pay for it when she could no longer do so. We know we are blessed yet, it is still very sad and painful to watch this progressive decline and not understand it well enough. I would be so happy to hear from anyone who might have insight to my concerns.

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If her signs of alz/dememtia are more visiable now, it may be the noise that is bothering her... that is also why some do not like to take a bath or shower... the sound of the running water frightens them... they feel claustiphobic in the shower and the noise of the water is too loud... this is just a suggestion on the bathing issue.... let her get good and awake before shower time.... this is what I would do with Ruth.... let her get awake, feed her breakfast.... and just talk like we always did, then slowly start toward the shower.... sometimes she wouldn't catch on until I started undressing her.... but I would keep speaking calmly.... set her on the shower chair, no running water.... then, I would turn it on where it was coming out very slowly, so the noise wouldn't upset her, talking to her the whole time, about anything but showers, gradually turning the water up a little at a time.... it doesn't have to be much anyway, just enough to ge them wet and a good rinse... I would have the wash cloth already soaped.... then I would give her a dry one to put over her eyes... and tell her this was to keep the water out of her eyes.... sometimes she would cooperate with this, sometimes she wouldn't... but I did find that the slow water, and talking to her the whole time helped.. we would be done and out of there before she knew it....
I also know that loud noise confuses them...they can't make sense of where it is coming from, and exactly if it is real or not (the tv)... I know I can drop a spoon in the kitchen sink and S is startled... wants to know what that noise was.... if I shut the dryer door, it confuses him... so as I said, just suggestions.... imagine having a difficult time understanding the world around you, and being on noise overload... it's not noisey to us, but possibly to them... wish you well... let us know what happens....
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