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Cotton101's avatar

Any suggestions on how to handle my mom who has Alzheimers?

Asked by Cotton101 (3434points) December 22nd, 2009
22 responses
“Great Question” (10points)

She is in the beginning stage of this horrible disease. Trying to be positive and upbeat with her. Hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with my life. Anyone have any experience with the what too do’s and not too do’s?

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SirGoofy's avatar

With all the tender loving care that you can muster.

Cotton101's avatar

@SirGoofy thank you Sir!

gailcalled's avatar

Read this book; it will help you sort out your needs from hers, which will become increasingly odd.

Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s

My 95 year old mother has had senile dementia (severe and almost total memory loss for four years. This book has helped my sister and me enormously in our roles as caregivers. Its a paperback, cheap and available used at Amazon.

(Cotton101; I am sorry that you will have to undergo this experience. Don’t waste your time thanking everyone individually here. Not necessary and not expected.)

janbb's avatar

Oh – that’s so hard. My mother has a very slow developing form of it but othe mental problems so she is very hard to deal with. She has been in increasing levels of care for about three years. I would suggest as much “respite care” for her primary caregiver as possible, not arguing with her version of reality if if doesn’t impact on real needs, and being gentle with yourself and other caregivers. It is so hard to lose the sense of the person you knew; try to hold on to any of the things they love and continue to share them as much as possible. We recently visited my mother and took her out to a botanical garden since she has always loved nature. It was a very successful trip and she is still talking about it.

Cotton101's avatar

@gailcalled thank you so much..will read it!

Cotton101's avatar

@janbb my heart goes out to you…good for you…thank you for the good advise!

janbb's avatar

@Cotton101 The only thing “worthwhile” about some of these experiences is the ability they give you to share/empathize with other people. Keep in touch with us as things develop.

Cotton101's avatar

@janbb will do….it just breaks your heart!.....thank you so much!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

You are dealing with a lot and a lot of it is unknown. Consider this

ChuckEx's avatar

Oh, Cotton, when I saw your question, my heart dropped a mile. I don’t know whether or not you recall me from “the other site”, where I had spoken of this, but my S/O was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease ten years ago.

By choice, I was his sole care provider for the entire period of his illness right here at home. I experienced each and every “stage” of his complex malady, and had to teach myself how to cope with each and every one of them. It’s a daunting task, requiring the deepest of love and devotion of the care receiver.

Were I to have the time and mental capacity, I could write a book. Our “journey” was a “successful” one, in that I maintained the most important elements of his sense of safety, security and, yes, happiness throughout. I so wish I could walk you through it. The care provider must draw upon his/her greatest measure of strength and confidence each and every day. And a the risk of offending a reader or two, I could not have met the challenges without the guidance and help of God.

This is a difficult period for me right now. Charlie, my S/O of nearly 37 years, passed away peacefully a month ago. I miss him so very much.

mellow_girl's avatar

just be patient and when it’s really getting to you remember that she cant help the way she is. if you ever would like to talk with someone you can pm me. i wish you and your mom the best of luck…

Buttonstc's avatar

I just finished two years as a live in caretaker for an elderly couple, both in varying stages of dementia.

Each person is unique in their response to this disease, but generall speaking it increasingly reverses the roles.

You now become more like a parent and they become increasingly dependent like a child. It’s difficult.

I recently saw an interview with Frank Broyles, a legendary football coach in Alabama. He and his daughter cared for his wife with Alzheimers.

He has written a book detailing specific tips and coping which they learned as the disease progressed.

It’s called something like Coach Broyles Playbook Just Goog his name and it should come up easily. I’m sure you can find it on Amazon. I wish I had it a few years ago.

I was very impressed with how specific were the tips he outlined as well as how comprehensive. But what most impressed me was how compassionate and loving his attitude and methods were.

The one concrete suggestion I would have for you is: Dont try to go it alone. You need support and respite as well. Toward the end it can be tremendously demanding and you need help as well, either from other family members, a support group, or part time professional caregivers. It will make a world of difference.

Feel free to PM me anytime.

sliceswiththings's avatar

It’s so sad, my grandma had alzheimer’s for about sixteen years, but in the early stages she was completely herself. The main thing to do is to not get frustrated when you have to repeat yourself over and over.

In fact, my dad used to tell her the same joke every day and she laughed just as hard every time, which brought some joy to the situation.

ucme's avatar

I used to work as a carer for Alzheimers sufferers. My advice to you is simple. Love & care for her as she did you when you were unable. She needs you now more than ever. I wish you both well during this troubling time.

hug_of_war's avatar

My gradma died of it a few years ago, and it’s hard in the beginning to realize how awful the disease it. You have to remember when the person forgets who you are it’s the disease, when they curse you out, it’s the dissese, when their personalitty changes, it’s the disease. People with forms of dementia tend to keep their long-term memories for quite a while so that can be a good way to communicate with them when you get frustrated.

SheWasAll_'s avatar

I just want to say good luck and I hope things get better or at least easier. My grandmother has mild symptoms and it’s frustrating, but I’ve discovered if you don’t fight the situation and accept that she may not know who you are, it makes it easier to live.

Austinlad's avatar

Dealing with this one, too. The best advice I ever heard was, let go of your mom as she WAS and try to deal with her as she IS. Sounds simplistic, I know, but if you really ponder it, it has implications that will help both you and her. Good luck!

gailcalled's avatar

One simple and powerful tool is post-its. We leave them everywhere. In bathroom there is one that says,“Check my calendar every morning,” for example. On bureau is another that says, “Go to lunch at 11:30 at <name of dining room.> Stop at nurse’s station so she can put on my ankle support.”

My sis and I go over that calendar with Ma several times a week; we do all her paper work including all financial business.

We preprogram hair cuts and toenail clipping and also prepay. I should add that my mother is in a facility that provides her own apartment, three meals/day, weekly cleaning and laundry and a weekly check-in from the nurse to set up meds and vitamins for the next 7 days.

When we go out for a meal, we bring very old pictures of her, us as babies, etc. She then has something to talk about, which lowers her anxiety.

pearls's avatar

So sorry, Cotton. I have never had to deal with a loved one who suffers from Alzheimers, but have had dear friends who have. Are you caring for her in your home?

Shemarq's avatar

I am so sorry that you and your family are having to go through this. It happened to my grandmother and it was devastating. I would check to see if there is an Alzheimers support group in your area where you can talk to others going through the same thing. They would be able to give you ideas of things they have done that have helped their situation which may work for you as well. ((hugs))

rhodes54's avatar

Learn how to play, or at least hum, the songs she grew up with. I play piano and sing for about a dozen Alzheimers facilities and the caregivers are never ceased to be amazed with how the right music can transform their residents.

Cotton101's avatar

Wow, some great answers given by everyone! And ChuckEx, too take care of your husband through that time, well, just awesome!

Thank you very much to everyone that not only gave me good advise, but more important, such heart felt comments!

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