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Coping with elderly parents – particularly Alzheimer’s Rant

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

  1. Hello again, thank you for your replies.I guess I am trying to be prepared so I can at least have an idea of what to do .
    It's the change of character I think that worries me.Even when I am in the room with my Mum sometimes it's like I am invisisble and she doesn't acknowledge I'm there.Or the topics of conversation we have are very bizarre.(hope you don't mind me using this example)but she asked me how my periods were and had they settled down yet!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm 41 !
    Another example which obviously distressed her was that she phoned me on my birthday and sad "I can't remember if I've sent you a card,but I'm sure I did" She hadn't but was very confused and muddled and ended up in tears (so did I because she was so upset).

    I will be writing a letter to my Mum's Dr I think and include examples of her behaviour.
    I'm so sorry that you are all having to make hard decisions.I might not being able to give advice ,but I'm happy to read and send hugs.Take care of yourselves too.xxxx
  2. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Balletmum, if you can persuade your Mum to go along and see the Dr with you, I do think that would be a way forward.
    Although personality changes and the disorientation <u>are</u> symptoms of dementia/Alzheimer's etc, there are many other things which mimic these symptoms, thyroid problems and depression amongst others and these would need to be ruled out first.
    So it may not be as bad as you fear.
    Do try and get that Dr.s appointment and then you might know better what you're dealing with.
  3. Thank you ,I will do that and you are right it could be other things going on .There is a history of Stroke in our family .I have found out that memory loss CAN be a sign that a stroke .My Mum already has under active thyroid and has regular blood tests.

    Thank you Lara.
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Just a quick update.
    Obviously the stronger antibiotics are kicking in. Mum much more 'normal' today rather than 'completely out of it and barely awake'.
    I do think she believes she is on holiday somewhere. Was really surprised to see us and asked if we had some holiday. She obviously knows she is somewhere not completely familiar and keeps commenting on the chandeliers and how posh everything is. (In fact the Home is where we had our wedding reception 30 odd years ago when it was a posh hotel.)
    Then the nice German-speaking care assistant came to ask her to 'come with him and have some tea' and she immediately picked him up on a small grammar mistake. Best actual 'conversation' I've had with her in about a month now., even if she did keep saying the same things and asking the same questions.
    Hope all you other lovely carers have had some good time with your loved ones.
  5. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Hi all LCC,
    quick update from me - Mum is needing a new wardrobe as the nice new clothes we gave her for birthday and Christmas last (size 10) are now too small! We think it must be the steroids and ADs which she is on now that have increased her appetite - looking forward to seeing her at the beginning of April and hope she continues with this good form. She is totally confused tho' and kept saying it was February when we spoke yesterday, I told her it was March but she insisted, then said "I hope we get snow", I said why? "Because I want a good summer" she said. Worse than that was Mr.Jo's comment when I retold the phone conversation ".....doesn't always work like that - we've had 2 rotten winters and 2 bad summers.." ........[​IMG]

  6. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Good to hear things are sort of OK with MiL.
    "Mum is needing a new wardrobe as the nice new clothes we gave her for birthday and Christmas last (size 10) are now too small! " We've the same problem with Mum.This time last year she was 9st 4 having gained nearly a stone and a half over the past 9 months. Now she's 10st 10, when I last weighed her when she came out of hospital. Apparently a few Alzheimer's do gain weight rather than the expected losing of weight- especially if they've still got an appetite - and Mum always was a 'comfort eater' when she was unhappy. At least it means they're 'well-padded' should they suffer a fall which apparently becomes increasingly likely!
    At present I'm in the process of sorting her wardobe into ' large for now' and for ' smaller for later', if she does start to lose weight. (Luckily she made her own clothes herentire life and her weight fluctated lots, so we have a good choice to choose from!)
  7. Ruthie66

    Ruthie66 New commenter

    yes my Grandma has TIAs (mini strokes) and these, rather than Alzheimer's were the cause of her dementia.
  8. Ruthie66

    Ruthie66 New commenter

    yes my Grandma had TIAs (mini strokes) and these, rather than Alzheimer's were the cause of her dementia.
  9. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    For those of you who are thinking of maybe having to place anyonein a home, here is one piece of advice I wish I'd been told sooner. Long rant coming up.
    Many Homes are run for profit (with the exception of Trust Homes) and Mum is currently in one such post hospital. If a 'client' runs out of anything, they simply supply the necessary item- sold at their own inflated prices! So keep a regular check on toiletries. For example my Mum hasn't been using deodorants/hand/body creams, whilst in hospital and (stupidly) I forgot to add them to her toiletries bag for the Home.
    So Day 2 appears a Bath cream lotion, deodorant and Body lotion-all which now have gone on the bill! Mum has these at home (including spares), so I was slightly annoyed to find I'd been sold them (and looking at the prices and considering they're not Mum's preferred brands am slightly miffed!) Also in our family if something we use regualarly was on offer, we always 'stockpiled' for leaner times, so we do have lots of 'reserves'.
    Second incident, which I admit<u> is </u>my own fault. Mum likes her hair combed in a certain way and on visiting her the other day went to get her comb from her room to do it for her. Stupidly I put the comb in my coat pocket as we were talking. Next day find a new brush (priced at &pound;10 label still on) beside Mum's bed! Now if they'd bothered to look there's a perfectly good brush in the top drawer of Mum's bedside cabinet and of course I war returning the comb, but she could have managed for one day. Now Mum's been 'misplacing combs/brushes for the past year (people keep taking them! she says) and I've already bought so many. So I rushed back to her house, rummaged through a couple of drawers and immediately found 3 of each. Made some labels and she now has one set out, one spare in her spare toiletries bag and one in the top drawer of bedside cabinet. (Yesterday I found 5 more combs and 3 brushes, so even if some go 'missing' I've some 'in hand'.)
    So was going through her hand/body lotions (which I have now provided in her favourite variety from her stockpile at home) and they must be using it very liberally -in the hope that she'll soon run out? So will have to keep an eagle eye out! But if I wasn't visiting regularly . . . .?
    3rd incident. Mum says 'Yep' to pretty much any question she's asked. So arrive to find she's been to the hairdressers. Nothing in itself and I wouldn't want to deny her hair care (she does put a lot of store by personal appearance), but she could quite easily say yes to a wash and set every day because she's forgotten she's had it done and then that stacks up! So had to have a talk with staff asking that she just has her hair cut every 6 weeks as she usually does.(If this does sound a tad mean on my part, that's because being currently unemployed we can't subsidise those extra costs and at present we have a limited budget for her personal care needs but if she keeps clocking up the extras we're soon going to be in financial difficulties.)
    Also, everything and I mean <u>everything</u> needs labelling and even then things don't always go to the correct owner. (I provided 5 nightdresses but Mum only ever seems to have 2 in her room!)
    Sorry for the long moan, but hope it might help others. Care is very expensive anyway and if the extras stack up even more so.

  10. May2

    May2 Established commenter

    I do have to say the washing is what annoys me the most. We have all my Dad's clothes named apart form all his socks (they are a bit tricky to name) and regularly he has other people's clothes in his room and they are also often named with the owners name. When he first moved in there were only 2 men and they still mixed up their clothes.
    We have marked all his clothes with a laundry marker but they do need checking regularly as with all the washing they do wash off, especially his handkerchiefs he insists on using, not tissues.
    I think they put everything in on a very hot wash so some of his clothes have needed replacing far sooner than they should have and jumpers have been very ruffed up. He has also had trousers marked with some kind of orangey stain possibly scorched. He has recently got a new pair which I have not only named but dated when he got them so if they ruin them quickly I will know how long he has had them.
    We may be lucky as toiletries, incontinence pads etc are all included. However along with hairdressing we also have to pay for chiropody which is basically cutting his finger and toe nails. Someone comes in to do toes but sometimes one of the carers cuts finger nails and we are billed &pound;18.00 a month for 'chiropody' I quite often cut his finger nails myself now.
    They charge &pound;6.50 to cut a man's hair but as lara mfl 05 says they don't know when they need it and my Dad sometimes has his cut fortnightly, he is always telling me it needs cutting and I keep telling him it doesn't need it.
    I do hope your mother is generally settling in now and apart from a few gripes you know you have made the right decision.

  11. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    To all you lovely Carers out there who have today visited/contacted their Mother with Alzheimer's who perhaps hasn't responded to your gestures.
    It was hard for me to see my Mum proudly announcing to everyone "This is my son-in-law!", when I was sat next door to him and had given her the flowers and card.
    celticqueen wrote this on another thread
    "Now that I am gone,
    remember me with smiles and laughter.
    And if you need to cry,
    cry with your brother or sister
    who walks in grief beside you.
    And when you need me,
    put your arms around anyone
    and give to them what you need to give to me.
    There are so many who need so much.
    I want to leave you something --
    something much better than words or sounds.
    Look for me in the people I've known
    or helped in some special way.
    Let me live in your heart
    as well as in your mind.
    You can love me most
    by letting your love reach out to our loved ones,
    by embracing them and living in their love.
    Love does not die, people do.
    So, when all that's left of me is love,
    give me away as best you can.
  12. PlymouthMaid

    PlymouthMaid Occasional commenter

    It must be so hard for those of you with parents who have Alzheimers as your parents are there physically but so gone in others ways. You are already grieving for their loss really but there is no moving on or distancing yourself from it at present.
    Love to you all. Remind yourself that in their heads somewhere they know they have sons and daughters who love them even if they cannot show it often or at all.
  13. Yes, that was me, Lara!
    Just dashing out to work, so it's a short one, but I'd heartily recommend employing a professional clearance firm to pack and shift everything into storage (our storage unit costs about &pound;600 per 6 months).
    Once it's in storage you can go through everything in your own time. Or end up like me and trying to forget it's there waiting for me. I haven't even been to the unit since everything was shifted there in November. Can't face it. :-(
  14. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Just thought I would add a lighter note to this excellent thread.

    Am currently staying a few days with TheoGriff Snr. He will come into my 'bedroom' i.e. the dining room, several times during the night with a cup of tea for me. I haven't drunk tea for over 60 years, so in the morning there are 4 or 5 cold cups lined up.

    But last night he kept bringing me . . . Magnums!


    And I ate the first one.


    Best wishes
  15. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Oh, lovely Theo! Bless your Dad. It's good to have a lighter note sometimes.
  16. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Manashee, that would seem to be a good idea to put everything into storage and sift through at a later date. In fact elder son came up with a similar idea yesterday, to basically sort into rubbish/keep for sorting later and pack up some stuff to alternate occasionally at Mum's home, like artificial flowers in vases/baskets, trinkets,old birthday/Christmas cards to keep things fresh but familiar. Will also reassure her that not everything's gone, which will be a weight off my mind.
  17. Thank you so much. I will make sure the doctor sees her this week. She hasn't been drinking anywhere near as much as she used to so it's possible. I'm going to see her tomorrow.
  18. thistledoo

    thistledoo Senior commenter

    Can I join this thread? I nursed my Dad with Alzheimer's and watched him deteriorate for four years before he died. Each visit was heart breaking. In the end I wanted to visit but part of me didn't and the hurt on his face when I left still brings a lump to my throat. He knew I was someone close that he could depend on and associated with 'home' but couldn't remember my name at the end. He always thought he was coming with me when I got up to go because I took him everywhere, shopping, outings, doctor and hospital. I can't put into words how that made me feel without re-living it. I just might be able to help those of you that are going through the pain and agony of caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's.
    My Dad sometimes became depressed and he was usually quite a 'sunny', even accepting personality. He used to tell me that he could live anywhere and not to worry... when he was down, I used to think that maybe this was 'the end' drawing near. I spent a great many times thinking that. Usually he had an infection and wasn't well. After the GP had been called and antibiotics etc. prescribed or even a hospital stay, he would be 'himself' again. I got to learn that his moods were often a sign that he wasn't well.
    I too worry about the future. My Gran had Senile Dementia and my Mum nursed her, so she was at home with us. So, the chances are quite high that it could happen to me. During the years of nursing my Dad, my Mum was ill too, sadly she passed away (not with Alzheimer's). My Dad didn't really know that she had gone and that was hard to bear. I try not to dwell on it all and I am better now but it has made me feel differently about work, life and retirement. I don't mind sharing, if it helps someone else and might help me with those dark moments that still engulf me sometimes.
  19. jonowen

    jonowen Occasional commenter

    Hi Roseangel, sounds like your Mum has an infection or something but the dr. will get her sorted and you can move forward from there. We've been through this too and it is a relief to get the dr. involved so you're not guessing about next steps, if you know what I mean!
    Update on our "caring at a distance" - my son and his lovely girlfriend came up from Glasgow yesterday to pay granny and grandad a visit and I phoned last night to see how it was all going. Oh dear, as we were talking there was a bit of a rumpus which turned out to be granny starting to get ready for bed (in the sitting room) - she was in a hurry because she wanted to get undressed before the carer came in (to get her ready for bed!) and was shouting at them to look away - my poor son was mortified. He then said how granny had tried to cook lunch for them before they arrived and had everything in one pan and burnt black. On a serious note, she's not safe at home but the dementia means she doesn't understand any more.
    We have a very caring aunty and cousin who are in most days and they reckon my father-in-law is showing signs of dementia too now. We will be there to visit in 3 weeks and I feel guilty because I'm dreading it already.
  20. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Oh jonowen big hug [​IMG]
    "she's not safe at home but the dementia means she doesn't understand any more." That's the really tricky part. I don't know how to suggest you go about it either. Before all my recent trauma, I'd been told to sell it to them as 'staying in a nice hotel for a 'holiday', which is in fact what Mum now believes. When she even wonders that is. Most of the time she just accepts she's there and hasn't got the wherewithal to even wonder why she's there.
    The tricky part for you will be to help your F-i-L to cope with the guilt. What you might see as signs of dementia might just be signs of stress coping with his wife and her behaviour.
    Don't feel guilty that you're dreading the visit, I have to 'steel myself' everytime I visit Mum. It really does make us so sad to see our relatives behaviour and how they turn in someone else and it is hard.I actually found they'd cut Mum's hair quite short in an urchin style she would never normally have picked herself and in non-matching clothes (always wore everything matching) with a stained cardigan and it really hurt to see Mum like that. It was as if she was a completely different person and ven the physical appearance wasn't my Mum let alone the personality!


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