Re: grief in the dementia patient

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Hi Lorrie,
First, let me reassure you that it sounds like you are handling things pretty well, considering what you’ve been dealing with – on so many levels too!! And, I’ve spoken just this week with two health care professionals with Alzheimer’s disease experience who told me exactly what you said – that it really is so different when it’s your own parent or loved one with the disease and now you are the primary caregiver. I think that when we advise others about how to care for someone with AD or any other disease, as professionals, we know what rationally, logically works and can suggest to caregivers how to deal with whatever issue is at hand. When it’s our loved one with the disease, logic and rational thinking is now colored by our relationship with our parent and it’s on a more personal level than rational!!

Now, regarding your mother, there may be a better medication to prescribe than Xanax . . see how this works but if it doesn’t address the anxiety, ask her doc about another medication. Also, bladder infections can cause agitation, aggression, etc. When a person has dementia, they usually can’t verbally say how bad they are feeling because of an infection but will express it through their behavior! If you see her becoming more agitated than usual, you may want to check for a UTI.

As you mentioned, your mother has no insight at all – therefore, you will need to make some tough decisions on your mother’s behalf. Remember it’s the dementia that is causing her to need more care than she can provide for herself – if you are the primary caregiver, you will need help caring for her – maybe not all the time, but sometimes during the day. Other patients who also have refused to let a home health person come into their home, have agreed when the caregiver says that the reason they have hired someone to come to their home is to help with doing chores, shopping, whatever, because the caregiver needs the help these days, not to help their parent! Sometimes this works, sometimes not! Is there a Day Activity Center for persons with AD in your area – someplace that offers half or full day care where your mother can get out during the day, get some exercise, and will be cared for by people who know how to work with AD patients? Have you checked out the Alzheimer’s Association in your area? They may be able to offer some suggestions also.

Mostly, try to remember that it’s your mother’s dementia that is driving her behavior, that because she has dementia she needs you to make some decisions on her behalf, and that you will need some help – either from your siblings or home health or another agency – to care for your mother. One other thing I would suggest is to try not to rationalize too much with your mother – when she is angry with you about something, try not to take this personally, remind yourself that she has dementia and walk away for a few minutes –especially when distraction doesn’t work. I know that sounds easier said than done but rationalizing rarely works at all.

I think that because you do care for her so much, you feel guilty about almost any decision you make – but most other caregivers feel that way too!! It’s just so hard when it’s a parent you are caring for because of the changed way you now relate to her as caregiver, daughter, and decision-maker – as well as many other roles. Still her daughter but relating in a much different way.

Lastly, as you would tell any client dealing with this type of caregiving, please take care of yourself while you are caring for your mother and your family . . .

I know this was a long reply but there are so many issues you are dealing with now. Please let us know how you doing, Lorrie -
Barb


Posted on 2010/12/31 10:10




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