Q: Dear Regina, My dad has been taking so many tablets that it is hard to keep track. He just received a new cholesterol medication and has been so mean about taking his medications. My siblings have been forcing my dad to take his medication and it doesn’t feel right. His dementia is getting worse and getting him to do anything has been a real struggle. My mom is having such a hard time caring for him and we try to help. But he is so troublesome. Is there an easier way?
A: Yes, there is an easier way, referring to his medication. First step is reducing his medications where you can. Take all his medications to his doctor for a medication evaluation and find out which ones are really needed and then, to reduce tablets, change some of the ones he really needs to a liquid form. Any medication that can be corrected by diet get rid of, like cholesterol meds (Statins). These meds do not interact well with people who have any cognitive challenges; they make them worse. If his cholesterol is so high in the danger zone, use natural remedies and change all his bad oils to good oils like olive and coconut oils and take him off of processed foods. Amazingly, cholesterol is the easiest condition to correct with diet and exercise. It is not clear how long your dad has been giving you trouble with taking his meds but if it is recent, the cholesterol medication could be the culprit. If he has been this way before the new medication, ask his doctor which ones can be changed to liquid or eliminated completely. Most people do not like swallowing a lot of tablets. Try to see his side of it — would you want to? What if they were all vitamins? Would you want to take that many? Changing them to liquid or chewable forms makes a big difference. Let us know if this helps. The other side of this may be in the approach.
Q: Dear Regina, My Nana has dementia and my grand-dad needs help with her. We have had family come and help her but when I arrived I was disappointed to find the roughness towards my Nana in the care of family members. My Nana was not talking and not helping herself do anything at all. My wife and I excused the family members from their duties for my Nana and we have been taking care of her. She has changed so much and seems to be more awake and alive. She laughs and talks to us whereas before she did not do any of this. We want to share how important it is for people who want to be caregivers for people with dementia must not be so rough and learn to help their patients do for themselves and not do all the work for them. It really made our Nana shut down. She is not perfect in what she does but still gets it done and feels better that she did it herself. Perfection in this case is not what matters. It matters that my Nana is happy AND well cared for not cared to. She is not an object. She still has feelings, so don’t rob those from her. I know you do training and I hope your caregivers are taught this.
A: Thank you so much for sharing your insight. It was once said that teaching people to care is impossible. But in reality it can be taught as we have to teach our children to share and be nice. It is challenging to teach adults to care when they are so set in their own ways. Only those who want to learn will learn. Families — and even great home care facilities — are challenged with finding the right caregiver that has a heart to care for people with dementia or elderly with dignity and respect as an adult.
Our methods of training do emphasize dignity and respect over the task-oriented style of caring. It is no longer accepted to only be concerned about bathing (getting it done), feeding (shoving food in their mouth) and in a safe place (nothing to do). The basic needs are extended to social, spiritual, independent and who the person was before the illness progressed. We do take pride with our dementia care training programmes.
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