Your Help & Suggestions, Please!

brainhiccupsMay 27, 2008

Although I am no longer my mother's care-giver, I still, basically am, in some ways. Unfortunately, it all became way too much for me to handle, a year ago last June 1st, and currently my mother is residing in an assisted living facility. She is on a waiting list for a wonderful Alzheimer's special care facility and is number 6 out of over 100 on an extremely long list, so hopefully she will have a much better situation soon.

She is at an extremely small facility: maximum 14 residents and one staff member daily on duty during the day, then after 9 p.m. someone is there in another section for emergencies only. My mom is quite the character now, to say it gently, and will argue and get nasty if she doesn't want to do something. She now cusses at people regularly.

My mom is still ambulatory, but her Alzheimer's is definitely increasing fast, making her more and more dependable on assistance. Her personal hygiene habits are taking the worst hit right now.

She is scheduled to take 2 showers a week, and the rest of the days, sponge baths in the evening. The staff got tired of arguing with her and only force her to shower once a week fact that has me pushing to get her out of there ASAP.

She has top and bottom dentures and used to be meticulous about keeping them clean. Over the last couple of months, she's been having occasional recurring sores in her mouth without any explanation other than "possibly she had gotten some food particles hung under her dentures and that irritation created a sore."

Cutting to the chase .....turns out she is no longer cleaning her dentures, or even taking them out at night! The worst part, is that when they ask her for her dentures at night to clean them and let them soak overnight, she argues as usual and they give in.

The only way I found out anything about this was I was appalled at her breath odor and one thing lead to another and I finally found out what was going on. She is refusing to "turn her teeth in" at night because in her mind, (1) someone might steal them, and (2) she doesn't want anyone to see her without her teeth.

All residents teeth are locked up so other residents can't get to them, and the staff gives them out to the residents upon their wake-up call in the morning. Most residents have false teeth, so most are without their dentures at night.

I/we have tried everything: logic, reasoning, health issues, guilt, even threatening and she still won't turn her teeth in at night. She no longer has the mental ability to understand good hygiene and will often lie that certain "things" have been done, but they haven't. My mom, even at 85, is an avid smoker and I even went so far to threaten to not buy her any more cigarettes unless she abides by the rules and turns her teeth in each night. (I was desperate!) But all that caused, was a huge tantrum and getting cussed at, etc., etc., etc.

Does anyone have any suggestions of something I can try? No, moving her to another facility temporarily is not really an option: neither financially and the simple fact that most facilities won't consider a temporary resident. I have to make the best of things and hope and pray that she can get in that other facility fast, as they are much better staffed and more professional.

Moving her back in with us is no longer an option: there is no room and my DH had a heart attack last year and I am really trying hard to watch the stress!

I am praying for some answers, some guidance, but I really don't know what to do and would so much appreciate any suggestions.

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Could you clean the dentures when you go in to see her? Will she trust you? I know this is NOT a permanent answer, but might help, even if they are "dirty" by evening. At least some of the gunk would be cleaned out once in while. Realize you can't be there every day, but once in a while would help some.

As for the bathing, there again, will she let you assist any? Once a week is, well, just that, once a week and better than nothing.

Contact the Care home and tell them she is getting worse and you really need to get her placed. Call every day if you have to. Most nursing homes will try to get a person placed, if for no other reason then to stop the phone calls! I did this with my brother when we brought him back home. Put him in a home I did not like, but he was at least in the same area as family. Then started calling the home I wanted him in as often as I could.........he got moved a lot quicker!

Most places are so afraid of the liability issues they will not pursue with resident who refuses. Plus, if she gets really bad they could ask you to move her, then you would really be in a pickle. The issues you describe can be "fixed" when she gets in to the nursing home.......don't stress yourself out too much and just do what you can to help when you are there for a visit. Try to make it as much "fun" as you can and maybe she will go along with you easier.

Just a few suggestions, not really answers but hopeful you will find part of some to use. Oh yeah, prayers sure do help!

Linda J

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 1:21PM
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there really isn't a solution to this except patience and it may get worse when she goes to a full time nursing home. the most gentle people can turn mean when they get Alzheimer's. so sorry to hear about this. My husband fought his caretakers until he died.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 7:53PM
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Your mom is over the edge and you're straining to pretend she's not. Alzheimer's can be a real bear for everybody. The sooner you get her to that specialized facility, the better. The behavior you've described is beyond the capability of the place she is now as you've described it. Actually, I'm surprised they haven't yet demanded her removal. Sad state of affairs. Is there anything you can do to expedite the hoped-for move?

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 10:26PM
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Talk to her doctor. Tell him that you feel that she needs to be moved quickly. It may be that he could expedite her transfer to the other Nursing Home.

    Bookmark   May 27, 2008 at 10:44PM
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Ask the home you would like to get her in for suggestions for another home. Yes the home she is in now could insist you remove her because of disturbing other people. No do not take her in your home. Talk to her Dr. and make sure all the legal stuff in in order. Many Alzheimer people can get quite violent and mean. Is she on the proper meds and does she take them. Are there senior agencies in your area to help out? Hope this helps

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 12:26AM
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As mentioned above, look into moving her - even if it's just on a temporary basis - to a long term care facility. You indicated this was out of the question, but I'd line up some ducks in the event you're forced to move your Mother because of her advancing behaviors.

Change, etc. is hard on Alzheimer's victims, but it seems she has gone beyond what her current "assisted" living situation can provide. When her number comes up for the placement of choice, make another move. Believe me, it's done all the time and this is a situation facilities are well familiar with - so they don't balk at it, despite what you may have been led to believe.

In the meantime, do what you can when you visit. Teeth, hearing aids, glasses all become problematic. As does showering and bathing - and what harm is done by once a week bathing? She will most likely have a once a week bathing schedule in any Long Term Care facility. Right now it's easier to give in to your Mother because one person taking care of 14 residents is totally inadequate.

If she's getting mouth sores, a trip to the dentist might be in order to get that cleared up. Have him write down a list of very simple instructions on how to take care of her dentures - many Alzheimer's victims will pay more attention to a "professional" telling them something than a family member etc. and are still quite capable of following simple written instructions. That might save her from future discomfort since mouth problems can lead to other serious health problems.

I'll say a prayer for you that #6 comes up in short order. But in the meantime, you'll have to be pro-active. You're your Mother's best advocate.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 11:10AM
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First, I want to say how VERY much I appreciate yall's support, wisdom, suggestions, and understanding! Although this is 'cyber' you all have touched my heart and made me feel better and I am extremely grateful!

Late yesterday, I was overpowered with an urge to drop in on the administrator of the facility where my mom is on their waiting list. SUCCESS!!!! They decide to place my mom temporarily in the nursing side of this intense facility until an opening comes available to move her a couple hallways down to the #1 in the state rated Alzheimer's care unit. I was beside myself with a feeling of relief! She should be moving very soon, possibly within the next week.

I have tried to not only talk to her, but I tried every way I could to offer my help in her hygiene during my visits, but she bucks me even worse than the staff. As per her sores, a Dentist examined her and explained the problem and what should be done, but mom just said "that was a bunch of hooey!" God love her: her logic and reasoning is almost gone now.

Please believe me that I have tried everything I knew of, and suggestions from others, but I'm afraid that her dementia is well in control now, unfortunately.

This new facility is quite special and I have dropped by on numerous occasions to 'look things over' unannounced. I ran the checks online through the government agencies and spoke to many people who have been or are affiliated with them and I feel secure that this is the best place for my mom. Thanks be to God for listening to prayers!

You are a very special group of people and I cannot thank you enough!

God bless you all and thank you very, very much!!!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 4:29PM
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Thanks be to you for paying attention and doing what needed to be done.

Hope all may work out for the best. Alzheimers/dementia/call-it-what-you-will can be VERY difficult to work with.

(Franky, don't see much benevolence from any higher power who may, allegedly, be involved.)

    Bookmark   May 28, 2008 at 10:00PM
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How is your mom doing? Did you get her moved in to the nursing home?

Linda J

    Bookmark   June 2, 2008 at 7:10PM
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Hi Linda:

No. not yet. They are remoldeling several rooms and as soon as one is ready, she gets it. The admin said before the end of the month, so I am hopeful.

I picked my mom up yesterday and took her on a tour of the new facility. She was excited, initiating conversations with many she used to do. But later, it all turned to confusion, and once again, my mother was no longer herself. It's so hard watching her deteriorate and I hate this disease!!!

Thanks so much for asking how things are going! :)

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 1:47PM
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P.S. Forgive me, how are things with your family? Better, I hope.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 1:50PM
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Hi Kate,

Glad your mom will be moved before much longer. Yes, it is a horrible disease but so are many others. Parkinson's has taken my brother over to where he can not do much at all for himself, another horrible disease which I hate. However all of this is what HE has handed us and we shall make the best of it.

My mom is being taught how to use a wheelchair you propel with a lever (in her case on the left side). So far so good, mom likes it and managing to learn how to use it. It will give her mobility within the nursing home, allowing her to come and go from her room as she wishes. However she is still not able to stand using her left side for support, therefore she will not be going anywhere for quite a while, if ever.

Dad is doing great, taking a nap right now! He stayed home while I ran to the grocery store today. Told me he would just rather sit at home on a rainy old day. I will have him help with dinner this evening so he will feel useful.

Gosh, I am rambling! Sorry! Thanks for asking.

Linda J

    Bookmark   June 4, 2008 at 2:32PM
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