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Anyone dealing with a parent with dementia?

Family Parents too demanding? Sibling driving you mad? Tell us!

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Old 9th December 2017, 11:21 AM   #1
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Anyone dealing with a parent with dementia?

My dad is 77. He's quite healthy and very active. He spends his days in the woods hunting, trapping, and has tons of hobbies. Not the type of older man sitting home.

A couple of years ago he started suffering from beginning of dementia. Once in a while his thinking is completely irrational. Once he convinced himself our mother was having an affair and she was preparing to run away to another country. The latest is he convinced himself the neighbor stole deer meat from his freezer! he went to the neighbor and called him a theif and cursed him.

Then he'll have long periods of having a crystal clear mind.

He is not an agressive man, has never been, but my worry is one day he'll hurt our mom during one of his phase. He can be really cruel with her when he's in one of his transe.

Thanks for listenning.
'' The Biggest Coward Is A Man Who Awakens A Woman's Love With No Intention Of Loving Her '' - Bob Marley
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Old 9th December 2017, 11:54 AM   #2
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Sure, did the caregiving thing for eight years. What do you want to know?

Tip from the brain team: When you've seen one dementia patient, you've seen one dementia patient. They're all different.

Who's handling your father's medical care? I found once we hooked up with a dementia/alzheimer's team from a research hospital, things got crystal clear. Having pros involved really helped.
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Old 9th December 2017, 12:02 PM   #3
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Thanks carhill.

Our parents live 10 hours north in a remote area in a tiny town. They have a general hospital close by but they are hours away from specialists. His family doctor diagnost him and gave him some meds.

All of us kids live in a metropole but he refuses to move here. He said if we take him out of his woods we might as well buy him a coffin on the same day.

As long as he has some of his mind we can't force him into anything so for now our mother is the one that assist him. I think our mother needs to be more involved but again she can't fight him. Our dad still goes to his follow up doctor appointments on his own, he's the only one knowing what's in his medical report

When he goes through one of his dementia spout can we reason with him? Is there any point explaining to him the neighbor does not come into his house when he's not there?
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Old 9th December 2017, 12:26 PM   #4
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Here's my take, in general....

1. Depending on type, inhibitions and social conditioning can be altered, either situationally or globally.

2. Perception is reality, just as it is for any of us. Problem with the demented person is the brain is processing that perception differently, hence the departures from what others collectively experience as reality.

3. Learn to lie. It helps.

Example of number three. Mom has a physical problem and needs to see a specialist. Can dad accompany her? Yes.

In reality, her specialist is a brain specialist and will play the game of seeing mom but in reality she'll be in the room while s/he analyzes dad. Mom is really fine. She's lying to dad to get him proper medical care.

I had to lie to my mother to get her to voluntarily commit herself to a locked psychiatric facility when I was at my wit's end. Hated myself for a long time. It was for the best though. You do what you have to do.

4. Safeguard the home and do estate planning...... if you want tips on this, they're usually specific to the situation. In my case I removed the guns and ammo from the house and disabled the vehicles and removed household and other chemicals from the premises, among other measures, during the independent living with care stage. We had done most of the estate planning years ago but I had to go in front of a judge to change some wording referencing my duties as trustee, essentially moving from successor to active. That took a court order.

Each case is different, as are the laws and customs of the locale.

5. Hook up with local dementia resources, online and real world. The research hospital we hooked up with, even though distant, actually had a local facility so it was a five minute drive to brain professionals. They also provided referrals to support and social services. I ended up starting a dementia forum after seeing a marked need for information and support. Now there are lots of them; 15 years ago, not much.

6. One day at a time. It's easy to get overwhelmed, especially the primary caregiver, in this case the spouse. Hook her up with assistance. Can't force her but at least open the door. Help is out there and she's not alone.

I found watching the excellent 2006 Canadian film called 'Away from Her' to be uplifting, if a bit sad. I originally watched it because I'm a Julie Christie fan but found the depiction of the dementia process quite poignant.

Depending on the patient, dementia can be a long or short process and there are lots of good days mixed in with the bad ones. Each day is a new day.

It helps to develop a sense of humor about it. I knew I had arrived when, as the psychosis deepened, I'd arrive at the facility and recognize the yelling immediately upon walking in the door and would comment to the sign-in rep that 'mom is pretty active today'. Yup. That's reality.

In my case, the dementia began with a stroke in an otherwise really healthy person at age 80 and she died a few days short of her 89th birthday. Good run. Hope I live that long. Dying is rarely pleasant. It is what it is.
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Old 9th December 2017, 3:10 PM   #5
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Dad was only 62 when he had his big stroke, he had just retired the previous year and was all set up for a long happy retirement both of them were looking forward to and it turned into this.

Thank you for the info and advice. They are coming over for the holidays, I think it's time us kids start getting involved on a more serious level. He needs to see a specialist and we need to know all the facts. We also need to figure out how to support our mom better through this.
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Old 10th December 2017, 2:25 PM   #6
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Yes, I am currently the family member handling my mom's dementia. She is residing in a very (I mean this) good place. I am the only family member close to her. My dad passed away some time ago, so spousal issues aren't relevant to yours.

I would agree with Carhill and agree with you Gaeta that it may be time for you guys to step in. Your mom may very well be overwhelmed. We are both moms, I know that I would hesitate to ask my kids for help, it wouldn't come naturally.

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Old 10th December 2017, 2:34 PM   #7
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My mom had dementia. I sucks. There is a reason they call it the long goodbye. The worst part was now, as you can see it setting in & they are changing.

Meet with your siblings & have a plan. Make sure mom & dad have all their documents in order: Will, Living Will, Power of Attorney etc. while Dad can still make those decisions. My mom initially balked & claimed I just wanted to be able to kill her. When I explained to her that the living will could require me to take Herculean efforts to preserve her life if that is what she wanted, she executed a conventional DNR.

In the end we got a home health aide. She was a godsend!
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Old 12th December 2017, 2:51 PM   #8
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Im really sorry to hear that your dad has this disease.

My grandma had dementia. It started after a cancer operation she had and was probably triggered after a couple of mini strokes. I wasnt her main caretaker but I sometimes stayed with her when my mum couldnt. She was often distressed because of the disease. Sometimes we would find her crying because she couldn't remember where her mum was (she died 40 years ago). She would also cry because she felt like she was a burden. And yet, we would get the rare days when she would seem like her old self. It felt like a gift. I think people with that disease are still in there, it's just their brain giving them a hard time.

As someone else said lying can help. We lied a lot to my gran, for small things, in order to keep her calm. For instance, when my grandpa was sick we told her he went to see his family for the weekend (he was in the hospital for 2 weeks). When she thought it was 6 am instead of 6 pm we didnt say anything (she felt bad about herself when we corrected her). When she was worried about what to cook we told her that we already cooked. Small things like that. Lots of smiles and reassurance that everything s good.

We were also very careful about locking the doors, we were afraid she may run away and get lost.

Another thing. Things from her past helped. Playing songs from her era seemed to make her happy and got her singing (she always loved to sing). I often asked her to share stories from her youth as she remembered them with detail.

Also a hobby that involves a bit of thinking is good. Knitting kept my gran occupied for hours and she looked forward to it. I have lots of her crafts from the time she had dementia actually... and i use some of them in my home, to remember and honor her <3
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