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Coping with elderly parents – particularly Alzheimer’s Rant

Discussion in 'Personal' started by lindenlea, Feb 2, 2012.

  1. Hello, I just wanted to say and let you all know that you are all wonderful ,caring people.My heart goes out to you all.
    My Nan had what they call Parkinsons Dementia ,and that was so very cruel to watch.
    My Mum (who is in her early seventies) has started to behave differently.There are only minor things which have caught my attention however my Mum doesn't seem to be like my Mum.Does that make sense??? I could be worrying for nothing ,but for 18months she has changed.Tolerating and even approving of things she would have had very strong feelings about.Asking me the name of my Dughter's boyfriend and asking how they met -every time we meet.Not realisng that my youngest Daughter had started secondary school .There are other things that have happened too.My Mum is absolutely fastidious about food and hygiene ,and the other day went I went around to visit ,she kept wondering around the house sying she had forgotten where she had put her fruit down.After asking about all the obvious places she could have left it,she said that she had visited the bathroom.When we went back to the bathroom she had left it on the toilet.Mum would have never ever done that.

    I realise that this is nothing compared with the things you have all been through, but I m worried.My Dad makes light of it all(Not that I blame him, but he could not cope at all with his Mum having Parkinsons dementia) .But his conversation is littered with things like"Your Mum and me are losing it " or"we are daft as old bats" .

    Sorry for the long post.And I do mean what I said at the beginning of the post.You are all doing a fantastic job.Sending hugs to you all.xxxxxxx

  2. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    Just popping in to say hello and offer encouragement to those of you facing difficult times with elderly parents.
    Over the past few years I have watched both my parents lose, to varying degrees, their health and their independence. From their own two storey house to using a walk-in bath, installing a stairlift, buying riser chairs, moving into a sheltered housing unit and having occupational therapy provide grab rails, bed guards, chair protectors, specially adapted toilet seats, a commode...you name it, they had it. And they coped...to a degree.
    There does come a point however, as many on here will recognise, when it becomes clear to everyone else that coping is not enough, and I think for most of us the difficulty arises when we know that independent living, however well supported, is not giving them the dignity and security they need.
    It was very difficult putting my parents in a home. I knew how much they wanted to stay in their own place, but I could not watch them struggling with incontinence and basic needs, falling and calling out the ambulance time and time again, yet still maintaining that they were managing ok. In the end the conversation I had dreaded for so long - pointing out, oh so gently, that I felt that they needed a higher level of care than could be provided in their own home - was not as difficult as I though it would be, as it turned out that they had already reached that conclusion themselves.
    Some of you will know that the first home didn't work out, but they have been in the second one for nearly four months and it has made a huge difference to the quality of their lives. In the meantime, my dad has had several heart attacks, caught MRSA and developed pneumonia while in hospital, and is receiving ongoing treatment for skin cancer - despite all of this, he is back with my mum in the home and they are both thriving. My mum has new hearing aids and has her hair done every week - she even allows the home cat to sit on her lap! -, and while they both still have the occasional fall, the point is that someone is always there to pick them up and get help if they need it.
    So I guess what I am trying to say to those of you struggling with the dilemma of when and whether to consider residential care, is that sometimes it really can make a huge difference, and that there are some fantastic care homes out there, where your loved ones will be well-looked after and happy.
    Thinking of you all
    Lalad x
  3. deanow

    deanow New commenter

    As my Mum and I take our first tentative steps along what I fear may be a long and bumpy road, reading this thread has made me cry and smile in turn - cry for what I think may lie ahead for her and smile because there are so many caring people in the world.
    Take care eevryone.
  4. PlymouthMaid

    PlymouthMaid Occasional commenter

    We had my Mum in tears today as poor dad has broken the second of their lovely dining chairs by pushing himself backwrd and then sitting on the cross bar as he tried to get up (hard to explain). It sounds petty but she loves her home and worked hard through her life to get nice things and I think it is just another sign of how their lives are having to change and there is no going back. My daughter just phoned to say that she doesnt think Dad will be able to visit in their new flat as it is up two steep flights of stairs. All little things but all adding up to stress for Mum and more of everyday family life closing down for Dad. I am going to start 'babysitting' dad once or twice a week in the evening so that Mum can still go dancing as she needs to see her friends. I thibnk she is on the edge of a nervous breakdown but of course, like most, I have to go to work to pay the bills so cant offer more assistance. Like many, they get no other help as they dont qualify since they have some savings which they live on. Sucky old age. Hope you all had ok weekends. I find all these things are worse at weekends as that is when i see my folks.
  5. PlymouthMaid, is your dad over 65? If so, he may be eligible for Attendance Allowance. It's not means tested, so savings aren't taken into account.
    This could help fund a care visitor to pop in a few times a week so that your mum could have a break.
    Your mum should also be entitled to claim Carer's Allowance. It's a pretty derisory sum, but every little bit matters and could help your mum retain her sanity.
    If I can be of any help, please shout out. Chin up and have a restorative cup of tea (or glass of wine).
  6. PlymouthMaid

    PlymouthMaid Occasional commenter

    Thank you Manashee. I think they may get Attendance, not sure but I suppose it is accepting that they have to pay someone, Dad is quite resistant to having a 'stranger' in the house at present. I didnt think she was entitled to Carers allowance as she gets her pension and I thought it was one or the other.
  7. Yes, the hard bit will be getting your mum and dad to accept help from someone outside the family.
    I'm pretty sure that pension income doesn't count as 'earnings' when assessing eligibility for Carer's Allowance. The carer has to be 'caring' for 35 hours or more a week and the person they're caring for has to be in receipt of one of three specific benefits (inc Attendance Allowance).
    More info here:
  8. Thanks Lara and (((hugs))) back to you too. Also to all the others on here going through hard times.
  9. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Thanks for that lalad. I remember reading about your parents on the other thread, Your dad's one tough cookie to survive all that.
    PlymouthMaid I can imagine how distressed your Mum became over the dining chair. Like many people of that era they had to save long and hard for all their 'nice things' and they are tremendously important to them. (That's the bit I dread with my Mum, having to 'dispose of all her precious things', because we need to empty the house to rent it out to help pay for the care.) " All little things but all adding up to stress for Mum and more of everyday family life closing down for Dad". That's one of the really difficult things -watching their world close in around them. It's definitely worth looking into Attendance Allowance. That's one of the first things our CPN said and to paint it 'worst scenario' when filling in the form. I'm just about to see if she now qualifies for the higher rate and how to extend it from her present lower rate.
    We're off this week to look at Homes, see solicitors about 'activating' PoA and try to find out from ther how soon they estimate she'll need nursing care and whether the Alzheimer's specialist Home will ask Mum to leave if she developed complications.
    Love and hugs to all.

  10. Lalad

    Lalad Star commenter

    I hope you find a good home for your parents Lara. I think first impressions count for a lot, but be prepared for their preferences to be different to yours. You might find it helpful to put off clearing the house for a month or two, just to give yourself a breathing space - I have put most of their things into storage temporarily and am now sorting through it gradually rather than trying to do everything at once.
  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Thanks for that lalad, but unfortunately with being self-funding we're going to have to rent out the bungalow as quickly as possible to help fund the Care and even then there's a big shortfall.
    As to first impressions, we don't care about decor, modern furniture etc., it's the standard of care which is most important. Apart from today when Mum was much more with it, Mum really doesn't take too much notice of her surroundings as long as she's looked after, made to feel someone loves her and good meals are provided. Actually dreading having to take her to look round once we've whittled down the possibles, as she's now incapable of making a rational decision anymore. Today she was asked about tomorrow's meal and was asked sandwiches or cheese and crackers? To which she said her usual "Yep" and when I pointed out she had to choose between the 2 she just didn't understand. So she could just be swayed by the fact that a chair in her favourite coulour was there!
  12. Balletmum, I do think you have cause for concern with your mum. She is obviously not severely afflicted yet but the fact that she is acting out of character and that you are noticing it does mean something is wrong. My mother is now well down the dementia road but even now she still just says she has a poor memory. On Friday she did admit she has no memory. Can you ask the doctor to come and have a look at her or go and have a talk to him yourself? Just so that you can start planning ahead. It is an awful thing to face but unfortunately once it starts happening there is no stopping this dreadful illness. You just have to start coping with it and hoping it won't be too brutal. we are all here for you.
  13. deanow - we've all been where you are now. That was me just over 4 years ago, so I really feel for you, dear.
    If there is anything I (we) can do to help, in any way, please feel free to shout out. If you don't want to post here, then please feel free to PM me.
    Love to you and your mum.
  14. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    deanow and Balletmum as you start to travel the road ahead, please feel free to use this thread. As I've found there's many posters here who can provide help and encouragement or #just a listening ear'
    I know, looking back that my Mum was 'symptomatic' long before I was willing to admit the possibility, because we'd already seen this road with both German Aunts and I wasn't willing to entertain the possibility. Even when we had the official diagnosis I wanted to scream "NO! Not my Mum!"
  15. Interesting documentary on BBC2 now...
  16. GeeMarie

    GeeMarie New commenter

    Don't trivialise your worries Balletmum- that will only make you feel worse. It's important that you get it off your chest, not matter how small it is.

    I agree with the above, maybe you could speak to someone? It took us a while to admit my Nan needed testing, and by then the drugs they gave had little to no effect. The sooner they start, the longer they can hold on. It might be that it's too early for that, but if they're at least aware that there could be a problem in the future, it's something.

    Hopefully you are worrying for nothing- it would be good if it was just a bout of forgetfulness! I think you're sensible to keep it in mind, though.

    Sending love and hugs to everyone who needs them!
  17. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Well, jonowen, as you say good and bad news. I presume she's still hospital at present? (My mother won't even use a walker, let alone even look at the wheelchair in her room.) So it's good that the wheelchair enabled your brother-in-law to take her out. Your Dr. sounds good too, is that local GP or one of the good ones at hospital?
    Again big cyberhugs to all posters and lurkers who are coping with this problem.
  18. In all honesty, Lara, only you can make that decision. Personally, I'd opt for the home specialising in Alzheimer's as they will have resources and expertise that could well make a difference.
    Take care.
  19. Sorrim

    Sorrim Occasional commenter

    Hi Lara. I can't offer any advice really because I'm not quite at your stage with my mum...yet . However, I do agree with Manashee, because that's what I'll be looking for when my mum needs a home. I feel the home specialising in Alzheimer's care would be the one I'd go for if there was a choice. It is such a difficult decision though. Good luck and let us know how it goes. Take care of yourself. Hugs.
    Sorrim x

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