Hi, My FIL has dementia and lives with us. His confusion was getting so bad with his drinking we decided to put a lock on the fridge and slowly ween him off the alcohol. We have him down to half a bottle of wine a day and soon will switch to non alcoholic wine (he's so confused now he doesn't know the difference). I sent an email to his doctor just to touch base. He recommended calling addiction medicine once he is completely off the wine. I don't know if he is not quite remembering my FIL or if this was a generic response but I don't see how rehab for alcohol would help someone in his current state, I don't even think he could participate in therapy at this point. 99% of the time he refuses to see a doctor, in my view there's really not a lot I can do except bargaining with him but many times that doesn't work. So I don't know how he would expect me to get him there. The last time I tried calling chemical dependency (before his dementia) they said HE must call if he wants help, well that never happened. Today, he wouldn't even know who he was talking to let alone have a meaningful conversation. Has anyone ever heard of this or his doctor off the mark and not grasping the situation? I did email him again to clarify, waiting on a response...

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You have done an excellent job with your FIL in reducing and ultimately stopping his alcohol use. No, I agree with you and the forum that your FIL is not suitable for addiction counseling. However, a thought for you is for you to get some tips from an addiction counselor to further assist you in handling your loved one. I am an addiction counselor as well as a licensed mental health counselor. My theoretical orientation is that substances of abuse cause changes in the brain chemistry that continues even when they alcohol is stopped. But is it the chicken or the egg considering his dementia diagnosis. PM me and I will give you some helpful tips on moving forward with your FIL. All the best. You are doing a great job.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Annekeating

I am sorry you haven't received more help with this situation. I think the major blessing is that the non alchohol wine is being substituted and the difference is not understood. Perhaps you could explain that again to the doctor if need be. And no he should not be sent to rehab for addiction. Those there know why they are there and how they have to attempt to change their lives. I hope the weaning process continues to work for all of you.
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Reply to Riverdale

If you can switch him to non-alcoholic wine, he doesn't need rehab! Or therapy. Surely the doctor hasn't been listening - understandable as few people do as well as you and your father in coping with this. Well done!
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Reply to MargaretMcKen

You know your FIL better than the Dr. You've done a great job in getting him to
drink non-alcoholic anything. Respectfully, Stop asking the Dr. to make decisions
for issues that are obvious. Save the frustration for all involved and simply keep him warm, safe, fed... and loved.
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Reply to Compassionate5

If you want to tell a doctor something but you're not expecting him to do anything about it, the thing to do is to put FOR INFORMATION ONLY in the subject line or at the top of your email. Or both. Preferably both.

Otherwise, when a doctor gets an email from a patient or a patient's authorised relative, the automatic response will be to think "what does this person want me to do?" and if it isn't clear what, then he will reach for the nearest idea. Tiresome, and leaves you rather dissatisfied with his comprehension skills and attention to detail, but avoidable.
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Reply to Countrymouse

I think your real question is how much of your FIL’s behavior is caused by the alcoholism and how much by the dementia.

At this point I don’t believe addiction rehab would do any good. He would have to be aware of where he is, why he’s there and what was expected of him. Doesn’t sound like that would be possible. At this point, Dad is who he is. Rehab won’t change that, it won’t cure his dementia. That is, if rehab would even accept him.

If part of your question is that you are becoming frustrated and stressed, perhaps it is time to explore an alternative living situation.
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Reply to Ahmijoy

I think you're correct – it's a standard response from his doctor. Your plan seems to be working. Why not stick with it?

Many AL communities serve non-alcohol beer and wine to residents who are a fall risk or who have a health condition which makes alcohol dangerous. Some residents know what they're drinking, others don't (their POA or family member does). The key is to be respectful – don't joke about it with other family members nor mock them by teasing about the deception – like "you're flagged, dad, you're getting tipsy." Serve it and shut up about it.
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Reply to IsntEasy

Hi, before my mom had obvious signs of dementia she had quit drinking became she was conscientious enough to realize she had a drinking problem. As her diseases got worst and memory went out the window she started drinking full force but still would say she didn’t drink. In memory care no alcohol was allowed so that was that. With the dementia she can’t remember or understand anything. Sorry you’re going through a similar situation. It’s hard and I don’t want to sound negative, but the doctors I have encountered on my health journey and my mom’s has been less than desirable. They are usually clueless and I’ve learned to just make the best decisions that I can. This forum helps a lot too with the collection of wisdom and personal experience with memory issues.
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Reply to LightFoot

I dont think a rehab setting is designed for people with dementia. And it is not a lock down facility for those who could wonder.
Check with his primary on med/s that may help him with withdrawl. I dont think it is a good idea to switch out his wine with a non alcoholic one abruptly. He could get horrible withdrawl symptoms. Talking to his doc about how to do it slowly may help. If hes been an alcoholic for years/decades. The doc might put him on something to ease his withdrawl symptoms, while you ease him off of it, overbto a non alc wine. You also dont want him threatening to walk/drive to go get more. It could get ugly both mentally and physically really fast.
Good luck.
Helpful Answer (3)
Reply to Jasmina

Rehab is hard enough for a person without dementia. If a person with dementia attends rehab programs, how can their broken minds adapt?
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to Llamalover47
Countrymouse Dec 1, 2018
It is up to people providing rehab therapies to devise routines that work for their patients' individual needs - and they do. Just because you and I wouldn't know how to get a person with dementia to mobilise, don't assume that a trained professional can't.
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