Alzheimer's-Did I do the right thing?

mishnico12December 13, 2007

Grandma was diagnosed with dementia/alzheimer's about 18mo ago. She is doing okay but I have noticed subtle changes lately. Today she writing her christmas cards out and had one all ready for Grandpa. Grandpa died 25 yrs ago. I told her that and went and got his obituary and now she just keeps reading it over and over. She was very upset that she cannot remember that he died but has since calmed down. Did I do the right thing in telling her? Maybe I just should have taken the card along with the others to be mailed and tossed it later. She is taking aricept 5mg and seroquel 25mg

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Connie Kru

At some point you will know it will cause more pain in her than you want to see and you will just learn WHEN to --Just Let it go--but it is always a transition period while YOU learn. Don't beat yourself up over it. Your will see more and more of this type of thing.
I remember with my MIL--she would insist that she was going home and would want to go to her car. I tried to explain that she no longer had a car and that she lived with us and she was now in another State and we had sold her home that she had before (she was having no part in that story)--I finally realized it was better to let her look --we would walk and walk looking for the car (it was good exercise for her) and she finally would get tired and did not even remember why she went outside and I could bring her back in and it was back to normal for her.

At least she is still wanting to write and send cards--soon that will go away to--enjoy her where she is


    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 1:20PM
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Connie gave you wonderful advice. This is a hard, transitional time.

My mother used to ask frequently about her brother who died fifteen years ago. She'd wonder how he was doing and tell me she thought she had seen him recently. She did the same with her own mother who died in the 60s. At first I would remind her that they both had died several years earlier. But eventually I realized that reminding her of their deaths served no purpose.

She asked again about my uncle on Thanksgiving Day; she was worried because she hadn't seen him for such a long time. I just told her I talked to his wife recently (which was true) and they were both fine. That seemed to settle her.

As Connie, said you'll eventually get a sense of when to just let things go. But it's good to think about it in advance and maybe plan some coping strategies.

    Bookmark   December 13, 2007 at 8:15PM
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Thank you! She seems okay today. She has been going through old letters but not re-reading Grandpa's obituary. She help frost cookies and did a little dusting today.
It's really odd how the mind works. She doesn't remember either of my brothers or I but knows her nephew(who she never really cared for)She still says if he wasn't so 'tight' he might be able to find a girl :0)She still has her sense of humor!
I am just the nice lady who takes care of her. My Mom passed away 7 yrs ago, Grams only child, and I think her death was so traumatic for gram that she blotted out everything to do with her, including us. I will continue to care for her as long as I can. I am still able to work 2 days a week and that is a blessing to get out, but I know that soon she will not be able to be left alone. Thanks for listening

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 5:44PM
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Connie Kru

I took care of my mil and she always remembered who her son was, but when she was in the hospital and the Dr. ask who I was she looked at me and looked at me and then him and said-she is my Mom.
and I was I cared for her just like she was one of my kids.
How old is your Grandmother??

    Bookmark   December 14, 2007 at 9:11PM
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Sorry, I hate to tell you but this sort of thing will happen more and more. That section of the brain that keeps memories like that is not working. It's not going to either.

All you will do when you try to correct or restore memories, is upset her more and more. She feels that what you are saying can't be true since she doesn't know anything about it. Therefore, you must be lying to her. She can't understand why you would do such a thing.

Just ignore things like this. Nod your head, grunt, or whatever it takes. She won't remember. You want to try and avoid getting her upset.

The memory isn't there. It's like it never happened, not that she just forgot.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 11:09AM
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Before I went to college, a hundred years ago, the student counselor suggested I spend the summer working with different age groups to narrow which area of psychology I wanted to specialize in. I worked in a nursing home for only a month as it just broke my heart.
An experience has stayed with me all these years. One of my patients was Bess. Her mind was gone. She thought her bed was her house, the closet for her clothes was a pantry. She told me the flower arrangement was her potatoes. She would be moving her hands and said she was peeling potatoes or making some kind of food for dinner. It was all so real to her. I took time to talk to her and we would plan picnics as she had said she liked picnics. She went from one subject to another in a matter of a few minutes.
One day Bess lay there with one arm stretched up. I tried to get her to lay it down to be more comfortable. She acted like she couldn't do that so I tried to get her attention on something else. I had noticed when I first met her she wore a man's watch. I commented that day that it was such a nice watch. Her expression changed, she lowered her arm and told me," this was Chris's watch, he loved me very much" and she began to cry. I held her and comforted her.
I later asked the supervisor who Chris was and she told me he was Bess's husband that had died years ago. My heart sunk, my throat tightened as it was such a beautiful thing. To think that with beds being houses, a closet now a pantry to her and the flowers were potatoes, she still knew the love she and her husband shared. It says in the bible that "love endures all things". It certainly does.
Some days while caring for someone, we'd like to just hide in a closet or run outside and scream. When all is said and done, you are doing what you do out of love. It may not seem so but the person you are caring for knows this. There mind is in a state we can't really understand their thinking. However, they do know love.
Keep strong and find some time for you and know you are not alone.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 2:43PM
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Lynn, your story set me to blubbering. I took my mom to her eye doctor yesterday, and it was heartbreaking to me to see her confused state. And as Agnes touched upon, the more confused someone gets, the more frightened and anxious they become.

I called my mother the night before to remind her of the appointment. I told her to stay in her apartment & wait for me to pick her up, but instead she went downstairs to the lobby of her assisted living facility and waited who knows how long for "someone" to pick her up. By the time I arrived, she was crying and worrying about being left all alone. She didn't even recognize me at first. Of course, one of the caregivers was with her and trying to console her, but she still was quite agitated.

Eventually, she realized I was her daughter, and she was so relieved. As you said, just knowing that someone who loves her was there for her, calmed her down.

Later she asked me about her mother again. However, this time she told me she couldn't remember if her mother had died. So I told her the truth. My mom accepted that information without any problem. In fact, she said that given her age (my mom is 92 years old), she thought that perhaps her own mother was dead. I was actually surprised that my mom was having a rare lucid moment where she could reason something out.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2007 at 3:39PM
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Sometimes we expect the memory loss, anxiety, tears, and confusion. When a lucid moment happens, it does catch us by surprise. Could maybe the care center assist in doctor appointments by going to her room about 30 minutes prior to leaving to make sure she's ready and take her down or wait with her till you arrive. I know, it's not in their job description but that place is getting a lot of money for her to stay there. It is ASSISTED Living.
I'm glad she recognized you and things got better. Sometimes the mind puts up a wall and everything is unfamiliar to them. That of feeling alone and not knowing what to do is terrifying to them. I can't imagine what that would be like unless I revert back to childhood. Life should be kinder when we get older but as we well know, that's not necessarily true.
Sometimes we have to take baby steps as a regular step is too fast for them. What do you enjoy the most? How about you take some time and do it just for you. Momma used to say that "sometimes it's hard to reach back and pick yourself up by the seat of your pants. Don't be too proud to let someone help you."
Take care and promise yourself laughter, smiles, and a rainbow tomorrow, but most of all LOVE.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 3:35PM
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Lynn, I did exactly what you suggested. As soon as we got back to the assisted living facility, I talked with the "wellness coordinator" (Don't you love all these fancy titles?). I explained what had happened and she told me to just call ahead the morning of the next appointment; the staff would make sure my mother is dressed, has had breakfast, and is ready when I come to pick her up. I think that will work out better and create less anxiety for her.

Your mention of baby steps is so true. We worried about how to handle Thanksgiving because lately my mom's gotten confused about where she lives. She's had caregivers call me and then when she gets on the phone, she talks about needing to go home. When I question her, she knows she's in her apartment, but for some reason she doesn't think the apartment is her home. I was afraid that a trip up to my house for Thanksgiving dinner would throw her off. Luckily, her assisted living place had a wonderful Thanksgiving feast planned in their dining room. I made reservations for our family, and it was a wonderful experience. My mom wasn't stressed because everything was the same as her daily routine, and she was able to introduce us to some friends & staff members. In fact,it was so worry free that we're planning to do it again on Christmas Day.

    Bookmark   December 16, 2007 at 7:36PM
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I believe anything different than the normal routine is stressful to them. I even stress out if my day is planned and something happens.
Having the dinners there with her probably somewhat keeps her calm as it is at her "place". Familiar surroundings, people she recognizes, and most important her family.
I do wish you and your family the merriest of times this Christmas and may the New Year be as peaceful as possible and filled with LOVE.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 1:56PM
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there may come a time when the "home" that she remembers and talks about is where she grew up. If and when this happens, just go along with her.

You are going to find that often the best response is a little fib. Anything to keep her from worrying or getting upset.

Too often, family wants to get the loved out to spend the day, or out to lunch, thinking that they would enjoy a time away from the NH or assisted living arrangement. This doesn't alway work well as any change from the day-to-day usual routine takes an adjustment that they can't make easily. They may not realize how they feel, but normal routine is a safe, comforting feeling.

    Bookmark   December 17, 2007 at 2:32PM
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I hope this help you. I had to place my mom in the nursing home because of Alzheimer and I often thought if I did the right thing. I say yes you did the right thing. Somewhere down the road you will have peace and that's a promise. Don't dwell too much of that because there will be many times when you will ask yourself if you did the right thing
concerning her.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2008 at 9:27PM
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