I need some advice

shamboJuly 8, 2008

My 93 year old mother is in a lovely assisted living facility. She's got some friends and the staff is warm & caring. This last year, however, she's slipped more & more into dementia. There are times she's convinced that her parents live across the street and she tries to walk over to their house. Of course, the staff watches her carefully and makes sure she doesn't get past the parking lot. I've had to come down twice to get her back to her apartment.

About once a month, she'll have an aid dial her phone so she can talk to me. It's always the same story: She's stuck and she wants to go home. When I talk to her, she knows she's in her apartment but for some reason, she doesn't consider it her home. I usually just distract her by bringing up her great grandchildren or the weather or whatever.

Last night she called me again telling me she was stuck at the AL. She kept repeating that she needed to get out and move somewhere else. She started talking about how the people there weren't Christians so she needed to leave. I told her I would visit her in a few days and we could talk about it. Then I started talking about all the people that she knew there, and she agreed with me that those people were very nice and good friends. Eventually she calmed down a bit.

I've seen flashes of this paranoia in the past. Once she was convinced that the staff were all Iraqis. A couple of weeks ago she was angry because some residents think that she is younger than she really is (she's been telling residents that she's 103 instead of 93).

Is there a better way to handle these episodes? Something other than just distracting her and redirecting her thoughts? The place has a memory care unit, and I know she may eventually have to be moved there. My only reluctance is that any kind of move or change in her routine always has such a negative impact. I'd like to put off that move until it's absolutely necessary and the staff feels she's no longer able to cope with AL.

Thanks for your help.

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I wouldn't move her until the staff tells you she needs more care than they can provide. You just have to turn a deaf ear and keep redirecting her. The stories my Mom tells are the hardest part for me. I want her to stay in touch with reality, but it only frustrates us both to correct her. He stories are things like she wants her other daughter to have everything she has. She said my sister paid her hospital bill one time to keep them from taking her house. She has always been fully covered with insurance. I know it is the dementia talking. She took care of her affairs years ago and my siblings and I own the house. I am sure she tells the neighbors whoppers about things that aren't true. We just have to roll with the punches. I had an administrator of a care home tell me "Don't put her in a place like this until you absolutely have to." That was odd coming from the administrator.

    Bookmark   July 8, 2008 at 5:48PM
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No, redirection is about the only way to handle this. You're doing a good job. It's hard to keep reminding yourself that you can't expect them to be logical any longer. That part of their brain is gone, and isn't coming back.

The anger and paranoia of certain types of dementia is very hard to deal with, especially when it occurs in someone who never showed such personality dysfunction previously. You are no longer dealing with the person you once knew - this person is now different than the one you grew up with.

    Bookmark   July 9, 2008 at 12:27PM
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