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Dimentia

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fieryred33143

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Anyone have a relative that is suffering from or suffered from dimentia? My poor grandmother is losing her mind
. She hasn''t completely lost her memory. She has facts and dates but they''re all mixed up in her head.

For example, about four months ago she went to the hospital for a while for something unrelated. While there she kept asking when was my father coming home and to please make sure he knows he can''t take the subway because of the attacks. My father passed away nearly 14 years ago but he used to work in Manhattan and the attacks she was referring to were the 9/11 attacks that shut down public transporation. And then of course my uncles and aunts would remind her that my father passed and she would cry for hours before realizing that he had passed years ago (they eventually would just say he''ll be here at 5 so that she wouldn''t cry). So all of the data is there its just not in order.

My grandmother is in Florida (she lives in NY) and I''ll be visiting her this weekend. This is the first time I''ll get to see her since her condition has gotten worse and I really don''t know what to say or do. I don''t know if its best to correct her when she gets some data wrong or just play it off as if what she is saying is correct so that she doesn''t feel bad.

My grandparents have been together for 60 years and they love each other very much but the dimentia is making her a tad violent and my poor grandfather just doesn''t know what to do to make her feel better. The whole thing is really sad
.
 

neatfreak

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Aww Fiery, I have no personal experience but my research experience lets us know that it is often much much much harder on caretakers and family members than on the person suffering from it. Just go and try and have a great time with her. I would probably not correct her so that your time with her can be as enjoyable as possible. HUGS!
 

tlh

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I lost a couple of my family members as they were going through dementia. Everyone behaved differently than I remembered. I don''t really have any advice. Photos didn''t help either, they didn''t know who they were looking at. We just always brought food when we would visit... even though the appetite was going, we just brought something they always loved... which was cherry cordials and those butter mints.

Hugs! I am sorry you and your family have to go through this.
 

Skippy123

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Date: 2/19/2009 11:12:09 AM
Author: tlh
I lost a couple of my family members as they were going through dementia. Everyone behaved differently than I remembered. I don't really have any advice. Photos didn't help either, they didn't know who they were looking at. We just always brought food when we would visit... even though the appetite was going, we just brought something they always loved... which was cherry cordials and those butter mints.

Hugs! I am sorry you and your family have to go through this.
Here too. I wish I had something helpful to say but I am sending you a huge hug and prayers. I am sorry about your grandma.
 

mayachel

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Hi Fieryred, I''m sorry this affecting your family. My df''s grandmother started drifting two years ago. It has been hardest on his grandfather as there are times when she doesn''t recognize him. She remembers her husband, but doesn''t know that is who he is. About three months ago she started a type of ARB, I''m not sure which. But it has made a significant change for halting the progression of her dementia. She has gotten to the point where his grandfather needs to cook with her, because she may turn the stove on and walk away. It took a lot of pushing for them to hire a helper to come in to just spend an hour or two a day with them so that his grandfather can take care of himself, go for a walk etc. Otherwise he hates to let her out of his sight.
 

fieryred33143

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Thanks everyone for the support.


Date: 2/19/2009 11:42:39 AM
Author: mayachel
Hi Fieryred, I''m sorry this affecting your family. My df''s grandmother started drifting two years ago. It has been hardest on his grandfather as there are times when she doesn''t recognize him. She remembers her husband, but doesn''t know that is who he is. About three months ago she started a type of ARB, I''m not sure which. But it has made a significant change for halting the progression of her dementia. She has gotten to the point where his grandfather needs to cook with her, because she may turn the stove on and walk away. It took a lot of pushing for them to hire a helper to come in to just spend an hour or two a day with them so that his grandfather can take care of himself, go for a walk etc. Otherwise he hates to let her out of his sight.
Mayachel-this is really hard on my grandfather too. They are attached at the hip and he just feels helpless. He actually wants to move to Florida now so that they get away from the cold and he feels that a change of scenery will lift her spirits but she doesn''t want to move. In the meantime, the family has just been going over every day to make sure everything is ok. My grandfather used to take long walks in NY (he didn''t believe in the subway LOL) and now he won''t leave the house at all because he doesn''t want to leave her alone.
 

shimmer

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Date: 2/19/2009 11:42:39 AM
Author: mayachel
Hi Fieryred, I''m sorry this affecting your family. My df''s grandmother started drifting two years ago. It has been hardest on his grandfather as there are times when she doesn''t recognize him. She remembers her husband, but doesn''t know that is who he is. About three months ago she started a type of ARB, I''m not sure which. But it has made a significant change for halting the progression of her dementia. She has gotten to the point where his grandfather needs to cook with her, because she may turn the stove on and walk away. It took a lot of pushing for them to hire a helper to come in to just spend an hour or two a day with them so that his grandfather can take care of himself, go for a walk etc. Otherwise he hates to let her out of his sight.
I''m really sorry Fiery. I would encourage your grandpa to look into treatment as it can slow down the process.

Mayachel--She sounds exactly like my Grandmother. What is ARB? My Grandma is not on any treatment right now (they don''t think it''s right!), I have read that if she doesn''t start it will progress until she can not even feed herself. She does the oven thing, she forgets our names. She still has a good long term memory (telling stories from long ago) but she sometimes can''t remember the names in the stories.

Fiery, I know that my Grandma feels really really bad when she can''t remember our names. I think it stops her from trying to talk as much as she would like to
. I don''t correct her if she gets information wrong, but if she is struggling to remember something I help her out. She knows that she is not correct. It must be so hard for her.
 

KimberlyH

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Fiery, we lost my mother-in-law to complications from Alzheimer''s just over 2 years ago. She had the disease for 8+ years and my husband was her primary care giver. It was a difficult experience, but I''d give anything to have her back, Alzheimer''s madness and all. I don''t want to give too much advice, in case you''re only looking for support, but the following really helped us to cope:

Remember that they can''t help it. Answering the same questions repeatedly, dealing with their upset and anger (it''s common for a person with dimentia to become agitated easily), taking over care and tasks they once handled themselves. These things can be quite difficult, it''s key to seperate the person from the disease.

Laugh. My husband and I still laugh about the time I took his mom for a walk and she wacked me in the leg with her cane because I told her something she didn''t want to hear (she may have done that if she hadn''t had Alzheimer''s
), and about the time that she put paper towels in the dryer, and when she started cooking her brocolli at 4pm for her 6:30pm dinner, and so many other silly things that happened as a result of the disease. If we hadn''t laughed I''m not sure we would have survived.

And finally, remember the time left with this person is finite. When you just can''t muster the phone call or the visit, remember there may not be many more opportunities to be there for the person.

I am so sorry you and your family are going through this. It is definitely challenging and difficult to process. One more suggestion, regarding dates and facts, perhaps you or another family member could type up a history/timeline for her to refer to, and purchase a whiteboard for your grandfather to write the date/day on each day to help keep her straight. Also, doing puzzles, watching TV shows and writing down what it was about, crosswords, and such are great brain activities to help slow the process.

My best to your grandma, you and your family.
 

Sabine

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Awe, Fiery, so sorry your family is going through this. When I met dh''s grandma for the first time about 5 years ago, she was just starting to go through dementia, and it got progressively worse until she passed away this year. She was living in an assisted living place, but her husband had passed away a number of years ago. I think this was probably easier for her because they kept her to a strict routine, although she would often ask when she would be going home.

I''m sure it''s different for everyone, but just from my personal experiences with her and what I saw of dh''s parents'' experiences, it was easier to just not remind her of bad things that had happened. If she asked about how someone was who died, we just said fine and changed the subject. In terms of her forgetting the good times, pictures definitely helped! I had to be reintroduced to her many of the times I saw her, and I would be introduced as Matt''s wife, and she''d say, Oh, Matt got married? and she''d be upset she couldn''t remember. But when we''d quickly show her a picture of herself at the wedding and remind her that she was there, it made her feel better, even if a few minutes later she couldn''t remember who I was again.
 

sctsbride09

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Hi fiery red sorry your family is dealing with this, I usually dont post but since ive got experience...My grandfather started developing dementia 5 years prior to his death. At first it was little things like forgetting names and misplacing items but it quickly escalated and my grandmother and I were his caregivers for app. 3 years bfore he was hospitalized. It is very difficult both on the primary caregiver, and on the person with dementia to deal with this alone all day every day, so first off huge KUDOS for your family stepping up and all pitching in. I think that is one of the most important things in dealing with dementia, having a strong support network. I can honestly say that your grandpa is REALLY going to need it in the future. Second, in my experience with my grandpa, it was always best to let small "mistakes of info"(we called it) slide and try to keep on topic with the few things he remembered. My grandpa fortunately never got violent with us (only when he was put in the hospital), however, he did become exteremely emotional with a capital E. This was a man that I never saw cry over ANYthing to crying everyday. So, we had to be very careful about what he saw on tv, what people talked about with him, newspapers, etc. I dont really know what else to say, except Im so sorry. Dementia is just awful and its very difficult to see someone you love slipping away from you. all my best to you and your family
 

swingirl

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Sorry to hear your family is going through this. My father suffered with Alzheimer's for years before he passed away. Very difficult to see a loved one go through that. I haven't read all the posts but from what I've learned sometimes it is best not to contradict what the person with dementia is saying. The corrected/new information isn't really relevant because they probably won't remember it but still have to suffer the emotion that goes with it, especially in the case of losses.

Also encourage your family to consider nursing home care at some point. There comes a time when the caregiver can't do it anymore and their health/safety become jeopardized. Many kind sweet people become violent, belligerent, wonder away, try to escape, and do dangerous things around the house. You need to take care of your grandfather just as much as your grandmother. Gook luck.
 

Sundial

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I can sympathize with this situation. My dad had alzheimer''s until he passed away in 2005 and my father-in-law has dementia and is in a nursing home. I think it is important not to leave her alone and to make sure that your grandfather gets some help in looking after her. Be patient with her and don''t bother to correct her mistakes. If she will go get her in for a medical checkup to see if there are any medications that will help slow the progress of her dementia.
 

Tacori E-ring

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My grandma and DH''s grandma both have it. Both women live in a home. My grandma thinks I am my mom and always says "who''s baby is that?" when referring to Tessa (which breaks my heart). Sometimes she thinks T is me and asks about my dad as if he were my DH. She doesn''t know what month or year or season it is. I am sure she wouldn''t know who my DH is and I think she fell asleep at my wedding reception. But then she will remember random things and fixate on that fact. My brother wrote her a letter saying he would take her to lunch when he got back from school and she brought it up like ten times. She cannot hear and refuses to wear her hearing aid. You know its bad when her friends at the home nag her about it (by the way in her group of three my grandma is the YOUNGEST at 88). But she has her own apartment (which is more like a hotel room) and is safe there.

DH''s grandma is worse. She often asks my MIL about her son and daughter (both of them died YEARS ago). MIL just lies and says they are doing good. She''ll ask about her car (which was sold or died a long time ago). When we visit she wants to know what car we took and who sat where in the car
But I have been lucky and usually catch her on her good days. On those days she knows who I am, Tessa is, everyone. Sometimes she will go on some random tangent about christmas lights or something. Physically she is worse too (wheelchair, diapers, etc...) She is in assisted living so it is more of a hospital room.

It is sad but both are clueless about it. They seem *happy*. Honestly I wouldn''t try to correct her. That will just confuse and frustrate her.
 

fieryred33143

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Thanks everyone.

Some of these stories break my heart. Its amazing what the mind and body will do at an old age. I''m going to take everyone''s advice and just not correct her if she makes a mistake in front of me. It''s just odd to see her that way because she''s not the grandma I''m used to.

When we went to NY last year she was staring to get a little fuzzy but it wasn''t that big of a deal. She kept asking FI and I if we wanted to eat. She must have asked no lie at least 8 times. And every time we said no because we just had a big meal. Out of nowhere, she just serves us the food as if she forgot that we declined. And of course we ate it while giggling because she "forgot" I feel awful now because I didn''t know how bad things were getting for her.
 

Clairitek

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I can totally relate to you Fiery. Unfortunately, I have some experience with dementia and Alzheimer''s Disease.

My mother''s mother suffered from dementia, Alzheimer''s Disease, and a seizure disorder for about 10 years before she passed. She got sick when I was 10. We first notived her dementia when she would be cooking. She would turn on the stove and then put her hands over the burners to try and figure out which one was on because she could no longer figure out the diagrams. She would serve cold food on dirty plates too.

My father''s mother has been going in that direction for about a year now. She has totally lost the plot and seems to "time travel" often, sometimes thinking that my father is her old boyfriend or something. Many times she sees a picture of me and FI and makes a totally inappropriate comment like "If she hadn''t gotten him, I would have!!" She has not been able to cook for herself for a long time. They started to have frozen meals delivered to help her out. She would take them out of the freezer and not know how to heat them so they would spoil on the counter. We finally got her into an assited living home because she almost burnt her apartment down a few times. She irons compulsively and leave the iron on or vacuum her home and then put the vacuum back in the closet, still on. The motor burned out and almost caught fire.

My mother''s father turns 99 this weekend. I know it must have been terribly hard for him to watch the love of life, wife of 50+ years wither away to a shell of herself. He took care of her right up until the moment she passed in their home. Whenever I watch The Notebook I bawl my eyes out because it makes me think of my grammy and papa.

I haven''t read any of the other posts on this thread but a medication that seemed to help a lot with my mother''s father when he was starting to show signs of dementia was Aricept. It really seemed to give him some more clarity and he is able to converse with us more easily.
 

Kaleigh

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Embrace her for who she is now. That's the best gift you could give her. I know it's hard, I have been in your shoes too often. Just keep an open mind, and enjoy your visit with her. You'll have a great time I'm sure, just let the conversations flow. If she forgets, let it go.. And so on..
 

Clairitek

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Date: 2/19/2009 11:14:08 PM
Author: Kaleigh
Embrace her for who she is now. That''s the best gift you could give her. I know it''s hard, I have been in your shoes too often. Just keep an open mind, and enjoy your visit with her. You''ll have a great time I''m sure, just let the conversations flow. If she forgets, let it go.. And so on..
Ditto Kaleigh.

Sorry I forgot to address this stuff in my response. I suppose I was just too overwhelmed with thoughts that I sorta forgot to get to the point.

Whenever I talked with my father''s mother on the phone (she lives in England) I just play along with what she says. I find its easier than confusing her. I have also started referring to my father by his first name (and our other family member''s by their names) instead of "Dad" so she doesn''t have to wonder if I am speaking about her father or mine.
 

mayachel

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I am so impressed to hear everyone else''s stories, and amazed how similar they are to our own experience. df''s grandmother has lots of stories from years ago to tell us. We listen intently. She regularly forgets who we are, often mistaking df for his father. We may be out to dinner with them and repeat the same conversation, answering the same questions each time we see them.

Again, dittoing others in saying there is no point to getting annoyed or frustrated with her when she forgets. She really has no idea. She asks the same questions because she honestly doesn''t know the answer and is just trying to keep her facts straight.

In our situation, she has had the darndest time figuring out where we live. Literally 20-30 times in a visit she will ask us where we live. I just answer as though it were the first time we were telling her. (We moved into our first house this fall.) I look at it as her way of letting us know she''s aware on some level that we did.

It seems as though she does best when a routine is kept. When her surroundings stay the same. When the family was visiting out of state last fall, she was very upset at the hotel. When I try to imagine it from her perspective, she likely was waking up, in a strange bed, in a strange room with no idea where she was. Scary.

ARB''s are a class of blood pressure medicines that are being used experimentally to halt the progression of dementia. Aricept has also been getting good short term reviews. In our case, it hasn''t corrected the losses, but it has significantly slowed. It seemed for awhile that she was slipping away faster and faster.

I am in awe of how much love and kindness his grandfather expresses for her.
 
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