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I am taking care of a 73yr old woman with early onset Alzheimer's/Dementia. I don't know how or what to say to her sometimes so I say nothing & it's really quiet & I know being in Your head all the time is not good & that's what happens when You're alone too much or there's no interaction with another person. She dresses & showers herself. I basically cook a hot meal (lunch) for her & sit with her all day. As asking a question to make conversation from time to time seems to overwhelm her, I've refrained from that & make simple small talk to engage her so she doesn't feel isolated but it gets challenging. She's a sweet woman & very sensitive. Im at odds lately because she seems to be relapsing into confusion. She's been getting agitated easily lately. I just want her to feel Happy & know she's ok. Im with her 5 days a week, 8 hrs a day. Please! Help if You have any Advice...Thank You!...

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I couldn't agree more about photo albums or perhaps you could take her to a charity shop that sells old records/tapes/cds and see if there is any music she loves or video old films - really old ones - My mum likes nothing better than to talk (I could just stop there - she talks non stop!) about the old days. She's not always politically correct so be warned if the n word will offend you or anything of a similar vein, but she doesn't understand why people get offended so don't waste your time correcting her - she won't remember!

Mum used to knit a lot and we would look at old knitting patterns and she could tell me who she knitted them for - remarkable when she can't always remember how to wipe herself on the toilet!

We lived in an area that was heavily bombed during the war so pictures from the local library are great for stimulating discussion. Did she used to go to dances? what did she grow in the garden? Where did she live? what was school like for her? where did she meet her husband? who were her best friends at school? What used to be her favourite food as a child - you may be able to recreate that for her. She might still be able to make pastry, mum can (well can on a very good day but it is bloody messy!) and she can shuck peas and beans which means she feels integrated a little more. I can't have Mum in the kitchen any more - she is at too much risk there, but she did use to help me wash up. We even emptied and cleaned the freezer every month and she liked to choose what she was going to eat - nowadays just getting her to eat is a nightmare. Old recipe books are fun for both of you and if you ever lay your hands on some of the really old home economy books that tell you how to be a housewife - she will remember those times and you will find some of the suggestions hysterically funny......we have one that says you (wife) should always wash thoroughly and dress in a pretty frock (note the word frock - that is so old fashioned) and apply a light makeup and if possibly some rose scent so you are fresh and sweet for your husband after his long day. Now bearing in mind you will have had a longer day because there were not the electrical aids that there are today that made me hoot - so there you are all sweet smelling and fresh and he comes home stinking of sweat.....ah yes oh joy I would be so pleased to have you wrap you stinky body round my nice clean clothes!
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The difficulty with finding things to say is not so much that the lady has mild to moderate dementia, as that you're looking for a whole day's conversation with a person you don't know. You'd find it tricky even if she didn't have dementia, wouldn't you?

To me, the answer lies in getting to know her, and going with her flow. My respite carer used to sit in companionable silence with my mother pretty much for the entire four hours she was here - didn't matter, it was a friendly (on her side anyway!) silence. And ask her family members what sort of pastimes she enjoys - it's a great idea to find things you can do together, but make sure they're ones she's going to want to try.

Also ask whether she used to be a chatty person - maybe she never was. You are intruding on *her* space, don't forget, and if she herself didn't ask for you to be there then you need to make yourself as cheerfully low profile as you can. Be a friendly and reassuring presence, don't expect eight hours of social interaction.
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One suggestion: You could look at magazines with lots of pictures, maybe seed catalogs or something that gets her attention.
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First, let me say, that I am very proud of you for saying your truth.... maybe you won't be able to do this long term... but the suggestions made were great ones, if you like working with Elders.. I am happy this lady has you tho... you are willing to learn and have some great ideas yourself. I have always worked with Alz clients, now working with someone that has had a stroke... I prefer Alz. clients, and sorry if that sounds ugly or lacking in compassion...I do have compassion for J....so it has been a learning curve for me... guess regardless of the situation we are all still learning. hope you continue to post.... this is a wonderful network of love and support. hugs to you.
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Will pray for your peace on this journey of discovery. Hugs
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Heart goes out 3 maybe you might consider assist living working in activities. Your music therapy is a great idea. You work with alot of different residents and at the end of the day you go home. It's a great feeling at the end of the day.
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Hi! Jeannegibbs...That's Good Information You shared. Thank You! I never thought about an Adult Day Care Program. I will research it & see. I think for me Care taking in any Capacity takes a Special Individual & I don't know if I'm that person...
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HeartGoesOut3, you are probably right that one-on-one caregiving for persons with dementia is not a good fit for someone with depression and well-developed sensitivities.

I wonder, when this job is over, if it would suit you better to work in an adult day-care program? You wouldn't be responsible for one individual but you would have a role to play for several. They need someone compassionate to help them, and you need an outlet for your compassion, without being overwhelmed.
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To: Maggie Marshall, womenofGod, katiekay & Windyridge...
Wow! Thank You! For Your Kind Suggestions. She's Glued to the TV with the US Open right now but when I 1st began taking care of her I downloaded music to her computer & I tried teaching her some online games but it's difficult when a person doesn't comprehend & forgets immediately. I'm a sensitive person & this situation makes me sad, depressed & I cry a lot. I struggled with depression most of my child, teenage & adult life. I fight it but this situation doesn't help. She was Good for awhile when they diagnosed her with Dementia back in June of this year. When they put her on a medication for it took about 2 weeks but she seemed back to her old self pretty much. Lately she's been slipping back to where she was before the medication & it's challenging. I spoke with her children & suggested they make a Drs. Appt. & maybe have her meds adjusted. I know long term this will be bigger than I can manage. I needed to write about it & get feedback & I APPRECIATE YOU ALL Immensely for being Compassionate. She's not the 1st person I've been a caretaker for. I took care of a 95 yr old who was not ambulatory but she was spry, sharp & social as all get up. I had to put her wheel chair in the back of my car & take her out for lunch everyday, 6 days a week. I had no life. I lived in 6 days & 6 nights a week. God Bless those people out there who do this regularly. I've learned that I can't dedicate my life being a CareGiver. Just being Honest. I am a Compassionate but too emotional to not let it get to me. I get by sometimes but when the going gets rough I'm a big Cry Baby. Thank You! For reading.It's Therapy for me to write about it. Lightens up my Depression...
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Yes, the old days are good. Are there any old photo albums around? Do you know much about her history? The more you can learn about her the better the chance you might find something that interests her. There may be some long term memories lurking around.
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I have that problem with my Dad as well. One thing he loves to talk about though is the old days... I have heard his stories a million times.. but he never gets tired of telling them. Maybe you could try that?

Also, I will pick out a few youtube videos.. maybe some that are funny or cute with baby animals, dogs, cats..etc. Something short and easy to follow..and we watch those and talk briefly about them and have a laugh.

He is no longer capable of having detailed discussions.. so I have to get creative to interact with him.. otherwise we sit in silence.
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It hard to know what to say I am caring for my mom with dementia. She is also 73 years old and has had this terrible life stealing disease for 10 years. Lately everything I say makes her angry but I try as best as to tell her the truth even though she won't remember. Most of the time she doesn't speak it very difficult. 1 have a strong relationship with God and that keeps me going. Soon she will go to adult day care.
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Next time you're at the dollar store, see if you can find a big-piece jigsaw puzzle. Or Walgreens or someplace like that. It might give you two an opportunity for directed small talk that'll help pass the time and keep her brain busy.
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