I've been trying to get my mum's doctor to give her a geriatric assessment for months and he's finally done it. He phoned today and said he believes she is in the early stages of dementia. So far she can still pretty much manage (though she seems to have a huge amount of missing money, I'm going to take her to the bank tomorrow and see if we can find it). I'm going to call the Alzheimer's society tomorrow and Elder Outreach and see what can be done for her. Also see if me or my niece can get power of attorney so she doesn't give it all away to the cat's home. I don't want to infantalise her, but it is worrying. She would drive me mad living with us (and we don't have an extra private room either), but I worry she'll get lost one day, or burn down her flat.
Does anyone else have any helpful hints gleaned from dealing with a relative with this condition. My mum's still remembering everyone, doing her crosswords, getting her own groceries and watching her favourite shows (though watching Becker has got to be a sign of some form of dementia!). So still functioning, but her functioning is impaired as she doesn't remember what she did yesterday. Ever.
My grandmother is really suffering with Alzheimers. It's very smart of you to contact the Alzheimer's society. I'm sure they'll have lots of good advice and resources for you. It's been insanely hard on my mother and her sisters, so my heart goes out to you.
Grandma still remembers us most of the time (though you can often tell she's confused at family gatherings). She also still lives by herself. However, my mom stops on the way to work to make sure she takes her medication and stops on the way home to make sure Grandma is doing all right. My two aunts stop in throughout the day and evening and they all take turns with doctors appointments, etc. If you have any siblings or other relatives close by, hopefully they will chip in and do their part.
My mother does a good job balancing taking care of Grandma without treating her like a child. My oldest aunt, however, just succeeds in getting my rather fiesty Grandma riled up. So do be careful in how you treat her. Try to remember to treat her as you would want to be treated if the same were to happen to you.
My mom and aunts have tried to talk to Grandma all along about what they need to do and why they need to do it. They remind her of her memory problems when she's lucid and take control of different areas of her life as they need to. The first thing they did was to take any guns out of her house that she had from my grandpa's Navy days. You may not think your mom has any weapons in the house, but check to make sure. She could have some antiques and you wouldn't want her to hurt herself. I wouldn't completely take over the bank accounts and such unless you truly think that its time. That's something that really upset grandma and she wouldn't go for it at first. It wasn't until utilities started getting shut off or she had paid her insurance eight times in one month that she finally handed it over. I'm sure you know your mom well enough to know when its time to start handling things for her, with or without her blessing.
Most of all, if she does get to the really bad stages, remember your mother is still in there somewhere. It's very difficult to stay patient with someone that is accusing you of stealing from them or plotting against them (Alzheimers often causes extreme paranoia). Just let it roll off your back and remember it for what it is. My mom will sometimes get frustrated and hurt to hear some of the things Grandma says on her "bad" days. Then the sweet Grandma will reemerge and mom will remember why she's doing it in the first place. It's like the words of children. You can't take it personally.
Good luck :grouphug
When my dad was diagnosed with alzheimer's the first thing we did was get the power of attorney for one of the kids (me) and my mother because my mother wasn't well at the time either and we worried that something would happen to her and we'd end up going to court to get custody of dad. It didn't happen but it gave us a lot of piece of mind. You should check with senior services. They have people that will come in once or twice a week to clean or do laundry at little or no cost depending on your mother's finances. They also have visiting nurses that will make sure she's still able to be alone. If she'll let you, help her pay her bills so you know where she's spending and you could offer to balance her accounts for her. At some point it's going to be hurtful to her because you will have to take charge whether she wants it or not, but if she was just diagnosed it could be years before you reach that point.
My thoughts and prayers are with you. This will be a long and hard road to travel.
Gosh, giz. That's troubling news. Alzheimers hasn't affected any of my loved ones, but I have known a couple of seniors who were afflicted and it's a difficult, frustrating and sad disease for all involved. :( The sentimental part of me wants to encourage you to spend time with her, getting her to re-tell the story of her life. Maybe you could even videotape her sharing her memories, for your kids to cherish later. I would imagine it would be comforting for her to remember the old days, since she's having such trouble remembering yesterday. I really wish you and your mom the best.
My mother in law is pretty far done with her Alzheimers now. She was always an unpleasant woman and the disease sure hasn't softened her in the least. She now lives in a nursing home but my sister in law gets her out and takes her places and embarrasses everyone. My MIL keeps saying that she wants to come to my husband's house (I don't count) but I have resisted that. She prowls through everything. I told my SIL to just drive her around the block and tell her that they've been here. She'd never know the difference.
I have taken care of several Alzheimers patients and each is very different, of course. A lot of their old personality usually hangs around. I agree with the others, and especially gracie, that you need to get help. Strangers will notice things that you may not. Best of luck to all of you.
Thanks, guys! I wish my sister was here as she's much better at finessing my mum than I am. My mum's always been quite content to let everyone do stuff for her, and has always relied on me way more than I've ever wanted her too (starting from when I was a kid). So I have to put that away now she's finally got a good reason to rely on me! My niece (who's just a few years younger than me) is great with her, and my big brother (my mum's stepson) said he'll help out with the cost of the medicine!* I think he's such a great guy, because she was not Carol Brady the stepmum, believe me!
I feel so bad for her, it must be scary to be going through this. She is 84 though, and not to sound harsh, but at her age I'm hoping that old age gets her before the dementia gets too bad. Her sister's both died in their 80's (mind you they were both stout and mum isn't), so I'd like her to go while the world still makes some sense to her. That sounds awful, but I mean it out of love.
*the doctor said there's a medicine which will slow the onset, but the evil right-wing government will not cover it, even for low income old people! So it's $150 a month, which I don't have right now. I'm trying to get a job though, so once that comes I can pay for it. (there is no way my mum would pay $5 a day for a pill, she still has 20 year old bottles of bubble bath I gave her which were "too nice to use"!)
Giz, I'm sorry to read about your mother. You've been given some great advice here already, and I hope some of it helps you. I haven't had anyone in my family go through this, but my best friend's mother had Alzheimers. They were able to keep her in her condo for quite a while, but eventually had to place her in a home. I know they got a lot of emotional and practical support from the Alzheimers Association. I also remember Leeza Gibbons' mother went through it, and she created her own foundation. Here's the link: http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/08/09/earlyshow/living/caught/main634740.shtml.
Giz - I've been through the same thing with two of my grandparents. I agree that you've already gotten a lot of great advice here. I'd just add that the nursing home option is something that you should look into. Your loved one will get to a point where she won't realize where she is, but she will be well cared for. It's harder on kids or grandkids to make the decision to "put" someone into a nursing facility but if you have some time before you have to make that decision, you should be able to do some research and find a nice place. Having said that - lol - let me share my "tale" about my Grandfather. He was in a nursing home for the last year or so of his life. I guess it is a Southern thing, but Grandaddy always used to refer to butts as "tails" (as in "I'll spank your tail if you don't listen to me"). When he ended up in the nursing home, he had a few problems with his own "tail" and as the dementia progressed, he became more and more vocal about it. One day, one of my relatives took his son (about 4 at the time) to visit my Grandfather and apparently, this kid heard my Grandfather complaining to the nurses "MY Tail Hurts! Do Something About My Tail!".... The kid turned to his Dad and said "I didn't know Uncle W had a tail! How long is it?". We still laugh about that.
I hope that you don't take this the wrong way - Alzheimers/Dementia is nothing to laugh at. I hope that everyone who is going through this with someone they love can look back on their experience in a couple of years and smile at a funny story. We'll be thinking about you.
My dad has dementia (diagnosed as Alzheimers). He was always the sweetest man and now is quite crotchety, refuses to take his medicine, swears a lot, won't shower or change his clothes. My mom was still letting him drive until we came down on her like a ton of bricks. He didn't understand right of way, lost the car, got lost himself, etc. Someone will need to be with her if it progresses very far. There are new meds that help, but nothing cures it, yet. One thing that really helps is music... but it has to be their favorite music, not just any random stuff. My dad can still play the harmonica and sing along with old favorites. I got him CDs of Tom Lehrer and some musicals for Father's Day.
My mom is fine, but my brother AND I still have powers of attorney in case. I think it is good for both of us to have it since that way my mom has peace of mind.
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