Saturday, August 30, 2014

Alzheimer's

by Cindy R. Williams

My last post, I talked about my MIL (mother-in-law) with Alzheimer's is now living in our home. I'm the primary care giver and it has been eight weeks.

Each day is a new tornado of bizarre behavior, temper tantrums, repetitive speech loops.

I thought I had patience, but now I know it is time to grow some. I thought I was calm, but now I know I need to learn how to remain peaceful. I thought I was capable of doing everything, now I know I am really nothing. That it is all going to depend upon blessing from my Father.

Prayers and love are the only thing keeping me glued together.

Anyone have any tools and experiences they can share?

5 comments:

  1. Cindy,
    I used to work at a dementia community. One thing you need to have is a Q-tip. When things are bad, just remember--Quit Taking It Personally. Sometimes we feel defeated because this is not the person we have known and loved. We grieve for that person, whose mind no longer exists.
    As a caregiver who is a relative, you might also be feeling some guilt--I wish I could take care of her better, I wish I knew what to do in this situation, I wish she would just let me do that for her, etc.
    Let your mother-in-law do as much for herself as she can. She will gradually lose skills. Let her keep them as long as possible--feeding herself, dressing herself, brushing her hair or teeth.
    Act nonchalant. If you get upset, it will upset her more and she will know she can egg you on.
    Don't say, "I just told you," or "Remember, we just did that," or any other verbiage that will upset her, like, "You ARE home. This is your home now." All those with dementia want to go home. We don't always know which home they are speaking of--childhood home, early married home, last home, etc.
    Change the subject. If she feels she has to get home for some reason, ask, "What are you having for dinner tonight?" She might tell you her secret recipes that way.
    Get down to eye level. If she's in a wheel chair, or sitting, stoop down so you are not "towering" over her, which causes unrest--the fight/flight/fright response. If you are on her level, she will not feel threatened.
    If she is showing bizarre behavior, and is hurting you or hurting herself--violent--it's possible she might need to be put in a care center where they know how to deal with this kind of behavior. There are many types of dementia. Frontal lobe, I believe, is the one that shows violent behavior with temper tantrums that can be abusive to self and others.
    Please join a support group. I started one in the dementia community where I worked. Google the Alzheimer's Association for the one nearest you who can help you and give you pointers. Find out if there's a support group near you.
    I hope I've helped a little.
    It does take a lot of patience. It's easier to care for someone you're not related to because you don't take things personally. You can shrug it off when she calls you names.
    Let me know if I can help you. It's been a couple years, but I used to be one of the trainers.
    It will also be good to watch some videos on what happens to your brain when you have dementia. I'll see if I can find some on the internet.
    Good luck, Cindy. Hang in there. Feel free to email me:
    tobel dot knight at gmail dot com

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  2. Cindy, I forgot to ask you which stage your mother-in-law is in. That makes a difference, too, in the care she receives.

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  3. Cindy, you are in my prayers. Susan said it all. Make sure you take care of you too! Support is important. Allowing others to help is essential. And that whole not taking it personally is spot on! I love the variety of talents and abilities and knowledge that we have in ANWA! so cool!

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  4. Let me echo as a caregiver but not for this....get support. It makes so much difference.

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  5. Susan, I will contact you. What you wrote has already helped. Kari and Terri, I thank you both for commenting as well. Prayers are the best! I have a great update, AZ has a program called SAIL, which we applied for and my MIL qualified so she will be able to have some care at an adult Alzheimer's care center, three days a week--six hours each day. I am soooooo grateful. This will help me get back on my feet physically and emotionally.

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