Q: Dear Regina, My mum has dementia and doesn’t recognize any of her family or how to do anything. She lives with my sister who does most of the care for her. My sister use to be very social but now she does not take it on because of caring for our mother. She refuses to leave mum with strangers. I have two brothers and we are appreciative of my sister caring for our mum. We would like to show our gratitude. Can you suggest a way that will help her and our mum?
A: It sounds like you all are supportive of each other. It is understandable that she does not want to leave your mum with strangers. Are any of you able to or are comfortable with giving your sister a break once a week so she can go out and do something for herself or with her friends? Is there a family or friend that is willing to learn how to care for your mum? You all could pitch in to hire a family member to help her. Or someone to come in and help with chores if your mum is unable to help with those tasks anymore. Ask her what kinds of food they are eating and how is it prepared- provide meals for them so she can relax. Sometimes people say no to these things but all these things take up time but do it weekly and you will see how it will make an impact for your sister. She is busy caring for your mum she doesn’t recognize her own needs.
For your mum make a list of things your mum use to like while growing up and find creative ways to re-introduce those to her. You may need to modify them.
Depending on the level your mum is at, you can all enjoy her together in a family gathering. Allow her to stay connected with family as much as possible.
Should you all decide with hiring outside your families learn all you can about your options.
Q: Good Morning Nurse, Last night was so bad, very bad. Mummy was up 16 times going to the washroom but not going. She ended up having an accident on the floor so I was up at 4:00 a.m. cleaning. She finally went to sleep then up again at 7:15 a.m. It has been like this not so bad for a few months. I am tired. I’m trying so hard to stay strong and I feel bad for her. I don’t like this dementia. It takes everything from mummy and now it is taking from me.
A: First ask her doctor to check her to make sure she does not have a bladder infection, and that she is not dehydrated. If all is clear, it may be time for you to get some night time help.
I am sorry you are going through this. It is very hard to watch your mum lose herself and to realize that you are drained as well. You will have good days and bad days and more bad days. I am sure you have had friends and family that have offered to help and you may have turned them away or didn’t know how they could help. Call them and ask for someone to help you during the day so you can get rest or help you at night. Whichever you feel comfortable with do it. You need your sleep. In order to help your mum more requires your good health and sleep is part of it.
The St Lucia Alzheimer & Dementia Association will have next support meeting 28th January 2017. Contact us for more details.
Four Caregiver Reminder Tips:
• Make eye contact and be sure you have their attention
• Speak slower and calm (not loud)
• Get at eye level when speaking to a person with dementia
• Use short sentences
“People with dementia may have something important to teach the rest of humankind. If we make the venture one of genuine and open engagement, we will learn a great deal about ourselves.” ~ Professor Tom Kitwood
Send your questions or ask about information regarding memory and cognitive changes, contact AWI at firstname.lastname@example.org or 486-4509