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My grandmother is 72 and has Alzheimer's. My mom, 42, and I, 23, take care of her, but we both work. My mom works 8-5 Monday through Friday. I work 11:30-6 Monday, Wednesday-Friday and 12:30-6 on Tuesdays. I know it's best to let her wake up on her own, but I have to make sure she is up and ready before I go to work so my mom can take her to her daughter's house for the afternoon (She lives with us at our house but can't stay on her own because we have pets). Lately, trying to wake her has become very difficult. She gets angry and yells. The other day, she slammed the bathroom door. I try to wake her very calmly and get her a cup of coffee made hoping that will help but it just hasn't. Any tips would be greatly appreciated.

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I have absolutely hate to be wakened up with "time to get up !" full of fake cheer or even have my name spoken. So my husband rubs my leg or taps it.

I also dont like to fall asleep in the chair and have him tell me i need to go to bed ... since then i wake up and just lie in bed wondering why im still not in the chair where i was sleeping peacefully.

Grrrrrr !
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Reply to Betsysue2002
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If she is sensitive to light, you might try a SunRise alarm. You connect it to a lamp in the room and it gradually brightens over 30 minutes or so just like the sun. It can be set to come on at the same time each day. This gradual brightening of the room helps the body wake.
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Reply to sheba31
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Your grandma is rather young, but you seem to know she has Alzheimer's, so i imagine she has been diagnosed, and is likely taking some meds intended to help. It may be time to have her seen by her doctor again.

It was a great help to me and my wife when we were able to change her doctor over to an agency that visited our home. They had a care manager we could contact anytime we had a problem and followed up with us at least monthly, and the agency had a doctor, NP, nurses, social worker, etc available to make periodic visits, all covered by Medicare.
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Reply to Johnny13
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Wow! I don't think I have any helpful response to dealing with a daily routine like the one mentioned here. But I have learned something very helpful - I didn't know that you shouldn't wake a person with Alzheimer's, especially if you are in a rush to get somewhere. My mother-in-law had finally been diagnosed with Alzheimer's a few months ago but still wishes to live in the South in a CCRC where it is warmer. On our most recent visit, everything was going fine with no odd outbursts during the week, as my husband and I did everything to slow down our pace, make sure to look directly into her eyes to be sure she could comprehend what we were saying and to ask her or include her in everything before we did it, to keep her part of any decisions during the day. All went very well for the three of us. And then, the very morning we had to catch a 7:30 a.m. airport shuttle, she had awoken in the middle of the night and came into our room thinking we had left without saying goodbye. We assured her that we still had a few more hours to sleep. And at 6 am I got up to get dressed and ready, but didn't wake her until 7, and which point we were rushing to finish the last bit of packing and thought we were doing her a favor as we had for years in the past -- stripping the bed and putting the sheets in the wash, to be dried later (she used to do it when she was well, but I thought her helper could take over for this). She became very angry, thinking we were leaving things a mess, and then, even accused me of moving around her floral arrangement by the door and walking on her bed to move around the dozen or so photos above her bed... it was the strangest accusation ever had. Usually I am very calm and non-reactive but due to the impending departure, I responded, "Why in the world would I want to move your photos around?" and she quickly retorted, "Yes, why WOULD YOU?" I was totally floored by the absurdity of it all; it's one thing to be scolded for doing something wrong, but in this case, it was nothing I would even think of doing. We packed everything up and nothing was left out of place, but her caregiver said she was very angry hours after we left. Just wow, it boggles the mind and there is no arguing and wasting energy on it. But now I know why. Even the last departing minutes still have to be carefully planned. NO EARLY MORNING FLIGHTS from now on until she has awakened herself at a decent hour! So I too, had waited till the last 30 minutes before we left to awaken her, and she got all strange on me...I hadn't seen her like that for months! (She had spent 6 weeks with us up north, and we saw her again about 6 weeks after that, for a week...) Maybe she does need more time getting up...but I know my MIL doesn't like to be rushed, nothing can be done with her on a normal "Working Person's" schedule. I am between jobs now and can slow everything down to her pace. There were a lot of problems when I was trying to help her before that, when I was working full-time and had other side activities as well.
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Reply to sadfamilymember
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I just to thank y’all for the advice you’ve given. Turning on Steve Harvey and slowly brightening the chandelier helped a lot this morning. She was like, “it’s morning already? I’m sorry I wasn’t up earlier.” It was a better day than we’ve had lately.

I know having to wake her up isn’t the ideal option but as a group of caregivers helping each other out, do we really need to judge each other on how things are done? I try my best to wait till the last absolute moment she has to get up. She even used to work as a home health aide and now she’s the one who needs the help. My mom and I are trying the best we can between us. She’s not even my mom’s mom. She died in 2008.

I appreciate all the helpful tips but would really appreciate if the judgemental comments could come to a stop.
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Reply to Ciara23
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TNtechie Sep 20, 2018
I think your "team care giver" is doing a fantastic job and a wonderful example of what care giving should be - balancing EVERYONE's needs.

Please understand the occasional judgmental sounding comment usually comes form a tired and stressed out care giver, sometimes with some bad experience forming a very strong point of view. That view may not apply to the situation you have posted about at all and in the moment they didn't give your situation a full consideration. I don't believe being judgmental was intentional.
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Dear Ciara,

Bless you for supporting both your Mom and Granmother in this way.

I found that my Mom’s morning waking depended greatly on her sleep.

Over time we adjusted or took these things into considerstion:

What time she she went to bed -
Adjusting sleep times so that waking happens earlier (or later). This meant turning down lights an hour before bedtime.
No stimulating activity or tv.
Keep the house quiet in the hour before bed and turn out any nearby lights when she is in bed.

How often she woke in the night -
Poor sleep makes anyone grumpy. We did everything we could to improve her sleep - Melatonin, Tylenol for her arthritis pain, lightweight down comforter that didn’t place pressure on her skin or get her tangled up at night. Keeping the room cool and quiet. Reducing liquids after 5pm to prevent toilet trips during the night.

Waking her slowly/gradually -
Opening the door and letting light into the room first.
Playing soft music.
Dont rush. Start early and take it slow.
Break up your visits to her room. Don’t hover or pressure her.
Dont talk a lot. It can be jarring when you are not fully awake or resisting waking.

Visual cues, familiar smells and sounds to wake up to are better than words -
Open curtains.
Lay our her daytime clothes.
place coffee where she can see (and smell) it.
Smile at her when she looks at you.
Music rather than an alarm clock.
Morning news played very softly.

Giving her pleasant things to wake up for -
Use TLC throughout the waking and dressing process.
Let the pets, if she likes them, come and greet her.
Bring her coffee/toast/juice on a tray.
Speak minimally and softly
dont give instructions - make statements “Good morning Grandma.” instead of “time to get up.” I made you some nice hot coffee and toast” instead of “have some coffee it will wake you up.”
Offer to help rather than instruct - “Can I help you sit up?”

Best of luck to you! Daughters like you are golden. Remember to take give yourself TLC too in the mornings.
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Reply to Gardens
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sadfamilymember Sep 20, 2018
This is indeed how I normally get along with my mother-in-law, but rushing for an early morning flight showed me how that can go wrong! No more early flights!
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Where is your Step-dad in all of this? Maybe he can help more with her. It is his mom. I realize you are way too young to have all of this, my heart goes out to you. I am very proud of you stepping in and helping to take care of her.
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Ciara23 Sep 20, 2018
He works too but he works nights. He helps when he can like on his days off. But it’s hard for him because he’s close to her and took him a long time to come to terms with what was going on. He was an over the road truck driver for a long time then was working out of state in the oil field for awhile when it started to develop. He’s getting better but in order for us all to be able to keep up with bills and stuff, we all have to work. We all help where we can.
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Don't wake her up. The human body has this natural sense of waking up all by itself. People with dementia are confused enough and having you, "complete stranger" waking them up is a HUGE disturbance. Since she appears to know when she has to go to the bathroom and feels the pressure to go keep the door open and wait for her to sit up and tell you she has to go. You get a more cooperative person and no angry frustration.
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Reply to donkeehote
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Teepa Snow has some good instructional videos on how to handle people with dementia. She has good tips like people may become alarmed if you touch them between the shoulders and the knees on the front of their bodies- their personal space .

She also recommends getting on the same level as they are when you wake them. So crouch down on their dominant side and put gentle pressure on a joint like the knee. When she opens her eyes, speak slowly and take your time getting her up and going.

youtube.com/watch?v=D71T58cEEN0
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Reply to Marcia7321
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Ciara23 Sep 20, 2018
Thank you. I will have to check those out.
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I would just open the blinds and wait for her to wake up. Worked every time.
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Reply to quiltinrealtor
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robinr Sep 20, 2018
She can't...she has to get to work.
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First it is best to keep the same schedule every day. So even on days off, get her up at the same time, the days you go to work later, get her up at the same time.
Is there a reason your sister can not come to your house to watch Grandma? It will get more and more difficult to transport her and she will also begin to sleep more. Sleep longer and more often.
You also might want to get her into bed a bit earlier if it is getting more difficult for her to get up. I do like the sounds of the house starting to wake her before she "has" to get up. Voices either yours and your Mom's as well as the TV or the radio will work. If there is a light dimming possibility start the lights on a bit low then increase the light in the room. This will work as the days get shorter and it remains dark longer. Switch the bulbs to LED ones so the light is a more true light.
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Reply to Grandma1954
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Ciara23 Sep 20, 2018
My grandma is my step-dad's mom so she's my mom's mother-in-law. Where we take her is my step'dad's sister. She doesn't do a whole lot. Her and my mom don't get along well. But because we both work, it's the only place we can take her. My mom is working on changing that with taking some FMLA leave to see if we can financially handle her becoming a full time caregiver. That will come in the next few weeks. I started doing things with background noise like the tv and then after she wakes up, I start getting her room together, making the bed, opening blinds, then I make her a fresh cup of coffee. It seems to be helping.
Maybe a light dimmer is something we could look into installing since we don't have one. Thank you.
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Heres an idea, based on TNtechies post - why not just put her TV on first thing when you get up, then go for your shower and do your morning thing, then you can go in to her room and hopefully she is awake! Then you can do what you need to get her going .....
Best of luck!

I also would not like to live by someone elses timetable!!!!!
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Reply to Emmdee
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Ciara23 Sep 20, 2018
I did try what TNtechie suggested and it did seem to help. And when she got up to go to the bathroom, I just started getting things done like open the blinds, make her bed, start her coffee and she did well.

I know it's not ideal to "live by someone else's timetable" but, unfortunately, since my mom and I both work and we're her primary caregivers, it's what we have to do right now. We're trying the best we can.
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The TV can make a good alarm clock for some people. My mother wakes in 10 minutes or so when the morning news shows are turned on (voices) in her room.
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Reply to TNtechie
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Ciara23 Sep 20, 2018
I tried that yesterday and it did seem to help. I also just started to open the blinds, make her bed and start her coffee when she woke up for the bathroom which also seemed to wake her up easily.
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Ahmijoy has a very good answer...what time are you trying to get her up? My mom wasnt sleeping well at night, waking up a lot and then was tired and cranky in the morning. She’s taking melatonin now at night and is sleeping better. I feel it’s always better to let her wake up on her own. Maybe someone could come in just for a couple hours in the morning to get her up and going.
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Reply to rocketjcat
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Ciara23 Sep 20, 2018
I try to get her up by 10 at the latest so she has an hour to get woke up. She sleeps pretty well during the night. Usually goes to bed by 10. I feel it's better to let her wake up on her own as well. My mom is looking into a caregiver, but it's taking some time because of how long she works too. We're trying though.
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Make sure she’s tested for a urinary tract infection. My mom had raging ones and became angry,disoriented and physically combative.

There are tons of different kinds of alarm clocks on the market today. Find one that plays soft music that slowly gets louder, or birdsong.

Make sure she’s getting enough sleep. I’m sure crabby if I don’t and everything sets me off. As a final solution, maybe have a caregiver come in for a few hours in the morning who could take her to her daughter’s house when she’s ready.
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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Ciara23 Sep 20, 2018
Thank you for the advice. My mom is looking into a caregiver but she also has papers getting filled out so she can take some FMLA leave for awhile. She may end up being the full time caregiver but we have to make sure we can financially afford it so he FMLA leave will let us know.
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