Checking in with new poop and Diet Coke obsession for my dementia mom. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

Checking in with new poop and Diet Coke obsession for my dementia mom. Any advice?

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Quick Recap: Last year I became "in charge" of my Mom when my step-dad passed away. She has moderate dementia and can't be left alone. About a year ago, I moved her successfully into a Memory Care Home, about 5 minutes up the road. She settled in, and had a good three to four month run from mid-January to just recently.


Two weeks ago, her brother, whom she hadn't seen in 12 years, was brought to town by my cousin for a visit. He has Alzheimer's, but it was still a sweet reunion. Totally NOT in Mom's normal routine or schedule. Then the following week her personal trainer was out of town, so two BIG changes and coincidentally (or not) she has claimed bowel issues since then.


She thinks she's constipated all the time, and is convinced drinking diet coke keeps her regular. So the diet coke gives her gas, possibly contributes to her diarrhea (which is what she really has), and it's a viscous cycle.


Additionally, her paranoia has increased. She thinks people are stealing her Diet Coke's because she's drinking them so fast because she thinks she's constipated. So she hides her Diet Coke, then can't find it, then gets mad. She's mad. She's mad when she can't find the Diet Coke, she's mad because she's "constipated" she's mad that nobody is fixing the constipation etc.


The nurse decided to increase her depacote to hopefully address the anger/agitation, but so far I haven't seen any changes other than more obsession, more paranoia.


This evening, the nurse called me to ask how we decrease or eliminate the diet coke. ARGH....I warned her that Mom would be angry at everyone, but that I was willing to let her run out and not bring a new supply.


The nurse pointed out that she's already unhappy, so it's not like we would be taking a happy person and depriving them of their only treat.


Thanks for listening to me vent....I hate that I can't fix this, or reason with Mom. She's always been stubborn and once she gets something in her head, dementia or not, she is hard to budge.


Anyone experience something similar or have words of advice or encouragement?

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Update: Mom yelled at my son again, so my son is taking a break from his Grandma. He's got anxiety and issues of his own, and he doesn't need this on top of it.

Mom has gotten much better, as far as her rage and obsession goes, although I still get an occasional angry voice mail and/or call (if I answer.)

Friday I took Mom to a neurologist who specializes in dementia, and she took a bunch of cognitive tests, they also want her to get an MRI to see if they can pin point which dementia she has. They said it would help them treat it if they know what kind she has. With approx. 90 types, I'm thinking this could be a long shot, but what do I know. I kept expecting Mom to get frustrated and angry and refuse to take the tests, but she was a real trooper and kept trying.

She had the most trouble drawing a watch face...she got the numbers, but could not draw the hands at all.

Today I took her to the Dentist, then Olive Garden for lunch, and then her training session at the gym. She was pleasant the whole day. Maybe the rage thing has calmed down for now.

I'll keep you guys posted.
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AND that didn't last long. She yelled at my son on Saturday when he took her to the gym to workout. They have been doing that weekly, once a week and she finally crossed that line and yelled at him. I feel very so bad for both of them, I'm sure my Mom would be horrified if she realized what she did. So now, the only one left in my little family that she hasn't yelled at is my daughter, but my daughter never does anything alone with Mom, I'm usually there, and Mom hardly ever yells at me if my daughter is around.
Anyway, she had a good day yesterday, but this morning she's called four times:
She can't poop, she needs diet coke, she only has $2, and she's yelled each time. I only answered the first call, let the rest go to voice mail so she can yell freely at my voice mail.

UGH.
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Update: Mom is almost like her old self....you know, from about a month ago.
She hasn't called and left any awful voice mail messages!
Took her to the 4th of July parade yesterday and we all had a good time.
The Diet Coke obsession is still there, but diminished, not any rage anymore.
Maybe it's a phase that's going to come and go.
The appointment with the neurologist who specializes in Dementia is set up for a couple of weeks from now...

For the moment, life is good.
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JJ, it would be not surprise that seniors get angry with frustration - physical illness and loss of independence and decision making. I know sometimes I do when I realize I can no longer do things I did a few years ago, or that it takes me twice as long.
I think with my mother, a lot of her negativity was generational and her personality. She looked for things to find fault with and that wasn't just when she was 90, but always. That was just her, and it got worse as she aged. She was raised by family where men were important and woman, not so much, so she sometimes used helpless and being a victim to try for sympathy. It was sad, because she could flip in a minute and be stubbornly independent as well. At 70 she married a domineering horrible misogynist who controlled everything she did and thought. I think he pushed her the rest of the way and I hate to say it but family rejoiced when he died in 2000 because he treated her like a servant and like a pet - a possession. If he had lived, she surely would not have survived more than a couple of years.
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SueC, it depends on the person. In my mother's case, we could not understand how she could live that long being so unhappy and discontent (and yet healthy and living in a lovely IL and having her daughters there for her, never having had to work, always secure)
My sister now lives in the same IL, and one of the residents is a woman who is 107! She can still get around, live independently and according to my sister, she is a barrel of laughs and is full of life, tells wonderful stories of her experiences. I'd like that to be me some day but if I am sick and unhappy, no I wouldn't want to live to 101, especially if I took everyone around me down.
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With all due respect, I can't imagine anyone wanting to live past 101.
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AmyGrace, my Mom seems to be struggling to be content as well, in fact, it almost seems like she wants to be angry. Wonder if there is some comfort in the anger? Makes no sense, but it's as if she's caught in a stage of grief--the anger stage.
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I guess it depends on location. The AL was taken over by Brookdale the month she moved in, so maybe the food was a holdover from the original owners or Brookdale cut their budget or they just had a lousy kitchen staff. The prices went up too. I can't complain about the upkeep or facility itself, and many of the staff were good. I ate lunch there several times, mushy weird veggies, definitely not what the residents liked (grey looking Brussels sprouts, cabbage, mushy carrots, wilted salad). Mom was not able to cut or chew the overcooked meat and no one seemed to be aware she or others just pushed it aside. It seemed like we had to point everything out to them, and if they observed things we didn't, they didn't meet with us to share it. Her dementia was bad enough that she was doing weird things and needed guidance. On the other hand, the NH was wonderful. The dietician visited with each patient's family to find out their likes and dislikes and needs. Her meat was either diced or shredded and it was tasty. She had a half dozen choices at each meal. We didn't make much of a fuss at the AL because Mom, unfortunately, was negative about everything anyway. She drove us nuts with her constant complaining and wasn't interested in anything, didn't like anything. She complained about the food in IL as well, and they have a 4* restaurant - the IL was so wonderful (she was there 8 years) that last year my sister (79yrs) sold her house and moved there! She absolutely loves it, has dozens of friends, loves the trips, etc! Poor Mom, it made us so sad that she just didn't know how to be happy or smile.
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AmyGrace, honestly the people I have both at her Memory Care home & the outside crew, including her personal trainer at the gym, are top notch! As a side note, the first ALF that mom & stepdad lived in was also part of Brookdale--the food thing must depend on location, I thought their food was pretty decent. Lol
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JJ it sounds like you are making progress and the facility staff is right on the ball, having meetings for family, discussing treatment, etc. Wonderful! They recognized that the medication she is on is not working like it should and recommended a neurologist to help get the right balance. Hopefully this will eventually end up helping your Mom be more calm and happy - and your frazzled nerves will get a break.
My mother was in AL in a Brookdale facility (not memory care as her dementia was manageable) It was a beautiful place, but we were not impressed with the staff, or the horrible food. It was expensive, she had level 3 care, and we expected more. Her room was kept immaculate, but she lost her hearing aids in her room and it cost us $2000 to replace them. They didn't monitor her anorexic eating habits and didn't notice she was barely eating and skipping meals. To our knowledge made no attempt to provide foods she would eat and never expressed concern to us . I used to bring her yogurt, Ensure and sweets and I think that is mostly what she lived on. They didn't try to guide her even though her dementia was obvious that she needed more attention. She was not capable of realizing when her hearing aids weren't working or needed batteries but so many times I visited and she couldn't hear at all and I had to bring her to the nurse's station for batteries. We insisted they take the aids away from her at night and put them in in the morning after both were lost and she kept fidgeting and throwing away the batteries. It seemed they noticed little unless Sis and I pointed it out. I was surprised that in the 10 months she was they were only able to coax her into the shower twice. (she was stubborn!) She finally got so weak we had to move her to a NH and she got much better care there and much better tasting food. But by then it was too late. She was 101 and time I guess. But her health was excellent and I can't help thinking she might have had more time if she had more appealing food and oversight at the AL.
So, I'm happy for you and your Mom, that she has people who are very into her special needs.
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