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Alzheimer Changes: Noticing Those Gradual Changes

Image of Regina Posvar
If Only I Can Remember By Regina Posvar

Q: Dear Regina, I take care of my godmother and she has Alzheimer’s. Recently, she has been putting things in her mouth like a child. I am having trouble keeping up with her and she is having trouble staying at the table to finish her meals. This has been happening for a few weeks now. Is this part of the disease? How can I stop her from doing this?

A: It sounds like she is moving to the next level and, yes, this is common. She has lost the ability to recognize items. Her sensory receptors are very active and she is trying to make sense of things and her surroundings. She is responding on impulse to what she hears, smells, touches, feels, taste and sees. If she likes it, she will explore it. If she does not she will get away from the unpleasantness.

The best thing to do is learn what she likes and does not like and adjust the home. When you want her to focus on something like meal time, make sure there are no distractions around that will take her off the food. No TV background, change dancing music to soft music so she can enjoy her meal otherwise she will stand up to dance 🙂 or go to where the sound is. Sometimes sitting with her and eating a meal together will help. Model what you want her to do.

This level can be exhausting for family and it can be a fun time. Just remember she is responding to what she likes or does not like.

Q: Dear Mrs. Posvar, my grandmother lives on her own and is really not safe to be on her own. I have checked around for homes and not many choices are available for her since she has Alzheimer’s. Why are the places so costly? Is private care better?

A: The cost of care in a community home is not that high if you break it down into perspective. It also depends on the cost of living for that person. For example, what is the cost of her power bill, gas, food, water and miscellaneous things for a person who owns their home? How much does that person spend a month to maintain the comfort of her liking? Now add renting a home or mortgage. For the average elderly, I am sure they own their own home, so these places would seem high. Now add the cost of private care. You will see that the community home care is not over the top.

Private care can vary depending on whom you hire. The Caribbean is famous for turning their housekeeper into a caregiver and this is an inexpensive way to go. Trained caregivers and nurses will cost more. No matter who is doing the care, there is risk. The best way to protect your grandmother is to be very involved with the home you take her to or the caregiver you hire for her. If you do go private, be aware of the needs of the caregiver as well or you will burn them out. This is a challenging job. There is a difference between someone that babysits your grandmother and someone who is helping your grandmother live her life effectively with dementia. Your grandmother can enjoy her life while living with dementia.

Q: Hello, Nurse, I am trying to figure out how to dress my mummy. She is so troublesome and very aggressive when we try to clean her and change her clothes. We are very calm and patient but nothing works. She is beating the help and this has to stop. Would medication help?

A: Medication can certainly calm her down but that does not mean she likes the approach of care. If her aggression is only around personal care, there is a lot of learning from her that is needed. I am sure she doesn’t understand what you are trying to do and she may have a vision distortion that keeps her from understanding your intent. Try standing in front of her at eye level so she can see your face. Speak normal but slower and shorter sentences and motion what you want her to do. This will take practice but skill is needed in these situations. Although everything I recommend here will not work every time, it will encourage different approaches. Medication is recommended when agitation and aggressive behaviours are causing distress to the person with dementia and emergency situations. They are used as a last resort.

Her doctor can help in these situations.
Send your questions to angelsofthewest@outlook.com or text 758-486-4509

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