With Mum, she has extremely good days and others where she is much worse. On the good days she's more switched on and positive, remembers things. On the bad days she’s typically upset and agitated and also much more confused. It’s almosy like there’s 2 of her.
I know that it’s normal to have good and bad days BUT I’m wondering if there’s anything one can do to anticipate or improve the bad days?
Ie. kids are offen grumpy if they haven’t slept well. Is it the same with dementia where adequate sleep etc. contribute to better days? Anything else I can look out for, do to increase the chances of good days?
I am am aware that she is grieving over the loss of her son and I try and put positive thoughts out there. Is the depression affecting her more on these days? Are there any triggers I should be looking out for?
Note, she’s not on any medication apart from cholesterol and a small heart inhibitor. For some reason she actually had improvement when her heart inhibitor was increased.
Play music as much as possible. My husband loves old time music and often sings along, when he can’t remember anything else. I have an Amazon Alexa unit and just request the music I want it to play. Wonderful for good and bad days.
I weaned him off caffeine and control amount of sugar intake. Very noticeable the difference in his mood/attitude.
I do not argue with him about anything. Things he says or does is because his brain only allows that and he can not help it. He doesn’t understand anything so anything I say or get upset with will only hurt/upset me. So I save my breath. I can not teach him anything, the brain can no longer learn or remember. So why should I get upset or angry. If I did it would make him more upset so it would be non stop.
Some of the sayings I use often are: That’s ok. Alright. I don’t know. Yes. You are fine. Everything is ok. You look so handsome. I love you. Sunny day. I draw his attention to nature: See the little birds. Notice the clouds moving. What beautiful flowers.
I learned long ago when taking care of Mom to try hard to control my upset/anger. If I show it, it will only make matters worse. And don’t be surprised at anything. Try to smile and laugh but not at the person, only with the person. Take care of myself in any way possible. Some days it might just be that second cup of tea. ❤️
What about a "weighted blanket"? Typically used for persons on the spectrum,
(autism), wondering if it will help dementias?
I observe when there could be a bad day coming, and decrease stressors as soon as possible. There are 'prodromal' symptoms to watch for. One, for example, is 'growling', a kind of grrrr from frustrations. And when asked, admits there is a headache.
I.e., on bad days, what would you typically do? Listen to music, chat quietly and reassure her of your love and care. I used to bring flowers for Mom, and it always cheered her up. Then I gradually switched to artificial ones so that I had some available when needed.
Same with Dad, but it was more on the level of his advice about something, especially woodworking, which he did for years. That helped switch his focus to something challenging, requiring detailed planning, and a pastime which he loved.
I think getting a positive thinking mode started helps someone switch and climb out of depression days.
I have to do that for myself as well. Gardening magazines and catalogues are my go-to for bad days, plus music, all day long. Crochet, knitting and embroidery magazines are also uplifting. Looking through photo albums is depressing though, as so many of the people in the photos are now gone. It also makes me realize how much life has changed for the worse.
Otherwise, the usual suspects can affect her mood: sleep, hydration, nutrition, and since she is on heart medications low blood pressure (decreases good blood flow to the brain). So good lifestyle habits will increase the number of "good days." You may wish to purchase an automatic blood pressure cuff to check her blood pressure on bad days. Keep a record to show her doctor at usual visits.
1. Avoid dehydration. Coconut water (not coconut milk) tastes good, has lots of nutrients and is an attractive drink. 50 ml of Kefir and 150 ml of coconut water is an attractive drink, especially between meals.
2. Establish and try to keep to a daily and weekly routine. Moving out of a routine often upsets those with any kind of dementia.
3. Dr Rangan Chatterjee's book, "The Four Pillar Plan: How to Relax, Eat, Move and Sleep Your Way to a Longer, Healthier Life (Penguin Books, 2018) has a lot of helpful advice. It's not about dementia, but he does point out: "Researchers believe that sleep is the time when we clear out the beta-amyloid, which accumulates in the brains of Alzheimer's patients. Sleep also helps us lay down new memories by promoting the growth of new nerve cells" (p. 205). Sleep doesn't remove the beta-amyloid or Tau in the brain, but it seems to give the person with dementia time to regain their ability to relate.
4. Keep a sleep diary and behavioural diary in which you link good and bad days with behaviour. See if there is a pattern between hours of sleep and behaviour. Dr. Chatterjee points out that sleep is in a series of deep sleep for 1 /2 hour throughout the night; and you need four or five periods of deep sleep a night to be rested the next morning. If the person with dementia is waking up a lot, see how that relates to the 1 1/2 hour patterns for deep sleep. That can be helpful to you too to get enough sleep.
5. Seek support, whether paid/unpaid/family/friends. If you try to do things on your own, you will burn out. Someone might be willing to help out once a week with a visit or outing. I have found the Home Instead Senior Care agency quite helpful. It's a US-based franchise, and its local groups are well-trained.
6. Keep alert for new challenges. I made the mistake of leaving two hearing aid batteries on the dining room table. My wife put them in her drink, but I saw it and managed to take them out before she drank. A doctor told me that if she had swallowed them, I would have had to rush her to hospital . . . and if she had drunk them and I had not noticed, I would not have known what to do.
7. Mobility is often an issue. Plan ahead--not too far ahead--but plan ahead what to do if the stairs or getting out to the car become too difficult.
8. Accept the need for "therapeutic lying"--that is, not always telling all the truth. Almost everyone with dementia is a time traveller, going back into the past. Seek to find out where in the past they are and get beside them, accepting that you are to them a different person or a different age. Then distract as much as possible.
9. All dementias are progressive. You need to consider carefully how long you can care for someone with dementia at home, especially with appropriate changes in architecture (stairs, bathroom, gates, personal alarms if someone gets out of bed at night, etc.) Everyone is different. Care homes will find it quite difficult to give your loved one the personal attention they need. Also, everyone has to do the same thing at the same time--eating, sleeping, watching TV, etc. This creates a lot of problems, because we are all unique persons with different habits. Home care can work well, but only with adequate support from others.
10. Train yourself to be resilient. You'll need it! See Matthew Johnstone's "The Little Book of Resilience: How to bounce back from adversity and lead a fulfilling life (Little, Brown Book Group, 2015). Also helpful is Michael Neenan's "Developing Resilience: A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach," (Second Edition, Routledge, 2018).
I hope these suggestions are helpful. Be encouraged--you're already tackling problems as they arise.
Love and Prayer
9. Read books on dementia. That can save you a lot of trouble, so you know what to expect. Tina Pow
I hope this helps.
A couple things that I noticed with my dad was his water/ liquids intake. He has better days when he drinks more liquids. Older adults forget to drink water and gets dehydrated and his AL staff did mention that a great cause of confusion occurs when my dad refuses to drink water. He still have bad days and good days but the bad are better bad days when he drinks more water. I have been supplying him with Gatorade (less of a struggle to get him to drink it) and reducing the coffee.
Count your blessings on the good days and bite your tongue on bad days. Also seniors for some reason gets UTI’s more often as they age thus you might want to get her geriatric Dr involved as well.
Any changes in their environment affects them as well, if they cannot find something that it is normally in a certain spot, or you change your routine for a day for some reason, etc.
Ultimately there is no rhyme or reason and for your sanity sake start looking for ways to accept the good days as they come and enjoy them to the fullest as they will become fewer and farther in between.
Given a choice between the two, Gatorade would be better. Coffee tends to have a diuretic effect. Gatorade has electrolytes, but if one isn't dehydrated, there's no need for those (it shouldn't be all he drinks - one maybe two a day, if it's really necessary!)
On the flip side, one CAN drink too many fluids. The old "Eight 8 oz glasses of water a day" is actually wrong. The original study said we need, on average 64oz of fluids/day, BUT that includes fluids one gets from food as well. My mother ended up in the hospital because she WAS drinking too many fluids and ended up washing out her system. When she was "replenished" she returned to her normal grumpy self. I did initially provide her with sports drinks, which the "experts" poo-poohed, but there was no harm in her having these.
I found in my research that Statins, Cholesterol meds, contribute to the cause of Dementias. Seems they effect the brains cholesterol and the brain needs it. It has been discussed, a while back, on this forum that when Statins are stopped, the persons cognitively seems better. Not a cure, just seems better. If Mom has been on statins for years, you may want to have her liver enzymes checked. If high, she should be taken off them. When my Moms Thyroid Doctor found out she was put back on them after a high enzyme count he said it should not have happened. Because the Thyroid med Mom was on effected the liver, he took her off.
Now that being said, when I was caring for my husband who had vascular dementia along with many other issues, I noticed that he would often mimic or mirror whatever my mood was. So if I was short and ornery with him, he was short and ornery with me as well, but if I was sweet and kind, he was sweet and kind too. And of course there were just days when he was not in a good mood for whatever reason, and I had to just make the best of it.
I would allow her time to grieve the loss of her son, and if needed perhaps talk to her Dr about getting her on a antidepressant. And just keep doing the great job you're doing with her. God bless you.
As my Husband declined the days that I thought were "bad days" in the past were actually "good days".
The bar is ever changing when it comes to "good and bad" days.
You learn to accept the day as it is and sorta go with the flow.
Don't sweat the small stuff (and most of it is small stuff)
Pick your battles.
Keep your stress level down that in turn will keep her stress level down.
Talk in a quiet voice, lower your tone.
Laugh. When you get frustrated over something, laugh. It turns the tide on a potential argument and will catch her off guard and she will forget about whatever is going on. (at least it worked for my Husband) If for no other reasons than it releases endorphins and will make you feel better in spite of what is going on.
The best we can do is know what *might* happen and learn what techniques have worked for others. Then it becomes trial and error to see what ones might work for our own LOs. It's like playbooks for sports - sometimes the outcome is what we want/expect and other times it isn't. For medical issues, often the docs can do A, B and/or C and expect outcome D. With dementia, all bets are off!
Learning all you can about it and trying various tricks and tools that have worked for others is our best defense for this horrific condition.