Q: Dear Miss Regina, my granny has Alzheimer’s and she keeps referring to me as her mum. It confuses me as I look nothing like her mum. I show her pictures of her mum and she does not recognize the pictures. I thought they remember better in their time but she does not recognize her mum in the picture. This disease is so awful! I don’t like what it is doing to her. She does so many odd things. I have to keep watch all the time. Is there a time when things will be easier? —– Confused and Frustrated
A: Hello Confused and Frustrated. Pleased be encouraged. You are a grand-child, angel. Your granny needs you to be happy and in good health and this includes your emotions. I am sensing you may be doing some of this care alone a lot or most of the time. Recognize that you will have good days and not so good days with granny. And it is ok to be frustrated. My recommendations are not science nor does it work with everyone. It is only suggestions that may trigger ideas for you or others in similar situations.
It is common for people with dementia to refer to the carer as one of their parents. You may not look like your granny but the care you provide might remind her in some way of her mum. You are giving her a sense of comfort and this is recognizable to her. The picture may or may not be recognizable. Is the picture a time of when she was an adult or a child? Try different time periods. This will give you a hint of what age she may be in. If you know her history you can relate to her with that time period by using music that she listened to during that time, or TV shows or games during the time period she is experiencing.
As far as getting easier, there is no right answer for this as each carer experiences different stages differently. The disease has a general structure of how it progresses but there are many variants to factor in. Your health and level of frustration with understanding of the disease and your support system is what will factor “easier” or not. It is reported that only 1 in 5 carers will have the needed support system in their family and friend circle. The other four struggle trying to do and cope on their own. If you have a good support system ask for a break in care so you can do something for yourself.
Q: Hello Miss Regina, my mum is with vascular dementia and my struggle is helping her to brush her teeth everyday. I know what it is like to have tooth pain so I try hard to help her keep her teeth in good health. Recently she has not been doing it. I put out everything for her and she just does it. Now she just looks at me and does nothing. When I put in her hand she does nothing, I try to brush her teeth for her and she hits me. What can I do? —– Clean Mouth
A: Hello Clean Mouth. There are a few techniques you can do to help your mum when doing oral care. You are right to keep that up for her as tooth pain can trigger a lot of negative behaviours. Have you tried to model the procedure? Using gestures and pointing. Sometimes your mum may not recognize what you want her to do verbally. Showing her what you want her to do can help. Always get her full attention when showing her what you want done. And doing it one step at a time may help. International Caregivers Association has wonderful training videos that can help. They have Web training for family and professional caregivers. It is no cost to you. http://internationalcaregiversassociation.com/dementia-care-videos.shtml www.angelsofthewestindies.com ; http://iCareAssoc.com The videos are very helpful in different situations.
Every moment counts ~ Three ladies were discussing the travails of getting older.
One said, ‘Sometimes I catch myself with a jar of mayonnaise in my hand, while standing in front of the refrigerator, and I can’t remember whether I need to put it away, or start making a sandwich.’
The second lady chimed in with, ‘Yes, sometimes I find myself on the landing of the stairs and can’t remember whether I was on my way up or on my way down.’
The third one responded, ‘ Well, ladies, I’m glad I don’t have that problem. Touch wood,’ as she rapped her knuckles on the table, and then said, ‘That must be the door, I’ll get it.’
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