Alzheimers: When should someone not be left alone?

Posted by suerc @suerc, May 19, 2019

I have a neighbor who just got a Dx of alzheimer. My mom passed away from this in Feb so I know what is all about. We could see him in the past or starting to repeat himself. My question for you is his wife travels to see her elderly dad out of state about every other weekend. Should we be worried about him at this point. He has taken care of our pets for weekends at a time but lately we have to write everything down and he has still. Even calling us asking us what to do.

@IndianaScott

Hi @suerc One of the hard parts of any chronic disease is the unknown. I know in my wife's case as she journeyed through her war there was no map, no hard and fast rules (other than when she failed her driver's test), my caregiving, and much more.

Again, in my wife's case they told us she might be lucky to live with her condition for 7 years and fought for more than double that. Same when she entered home hospice they said possibly six weeks and she was in that for over 14 months. We just never know in many such situations.

It is only my opinion, but on the animal care I'd say the moment you believe it is any kind of burden or difficulty for him, I'd quit.

I also guess, again just my opinion, that his wife will have to make the judgement call of when she should get him more care that what she can, or is, giving.

Nice to know you, as a neighbor, have a watchful eye out for his wellbeing.

What kind of pets do you have? I'm a dog guy myself 🙂

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Thank you for your response it helps alot. We have a border collie / pit she is the sweetest thing. And then my son needed someone to take there choc lab for awhile while they move however we have had her awhile and it looks like it's easier for us to keep her as they have a 3 yr old that is not very nice to her and a 1 yr old. I think the 3 yr old has been very jealous for a yr that she does not get all the attention any more. But gabby is happier here. We also have a cat Teddy. Busy house

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@suerc

Thank you for your response it helps alot. We have a border collie / pit she is the sweetest thing. And then my son needed someone to take there choc lab for awhile while they move however we have had her awhile and it looks like it's easier for us to keep her as they have a 3 yr old that is not very nice to her and a 1 yr old. I think the 3 yr old has been very jealous for a yr that she does not get all the attention any more. But gabby is happier here. We also have a cat Teddy. Busy house

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You are right, @suerc A busy house! I have one dog and that seems like a lot at times! Being larger dogs that could weigh on your neighbor too I might think. You never know I guess!

How do the dogs and the cat get along? Hopefully nicely! 🙂

Strength, courage, and peace!

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@IndianaScott

Hi @suerc One of the hard parts of any chronic disease is the unknown. I know in my wife's case as she journeyed through her war there was no map, no hard and fast rules (other than when she failed her driver's test), my caregiving, and much more.

Again, in my wife's case they told us she might be lucky to live with her condition for 7 years and fought for more than double that. Same when she entered home hospice they said possibly six weeks and she was in that for over 14 months. We just never know in many such situations.

It is only my opinion, but on the animal care I'd say the moment you believe it is any kind of burden or difficulty for him, I'd quit.

I also guess, again just my opinion, that his wife will have to make the judgement call of when she should get him more care that what she can, or is, giving.

Nice to know you, as a neighbor, have a watchful eye out for his wellbeing.

What kind of pets do you have? I'm a dog guy myself 🙂

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@IndianaScott @suerc It seems that medical conditions have such a wide variance. My mother passed in 1996 from a combination of Alzheimer's and Dementia. She went 10 years with increasing symptoms, but as we look back we saw some signs of it prior to that, we didn't know what we were observing. My father kept her at home the entire time and it was not easy for him. He went for a walk each morning before she woke up. He did not have any respite care, not sure if that was his decision. I do know that her symptoms varied quite a bit. She was typical of many patients in that she interacted very well with animals, but would not with people. When the visiting nurse would come that gal always brought her German Shepherd dog and my mother would interact with the dog but not with the nurse! May you find strength knowing we are here to listen, offer support and a sounding board.
Ginger

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Hi @suerc – I think the issue of when its safe to leave a dementia patient alone is one of the most difficult ones that caregivers face. Everyone is different. And even in the same person, capabilities can vary from day to day. My guess is that if you are seeing issues, the wife has already seen them and is trying to deal with them. My heart goes out to anyone who is trying to care for both her husband with Alzheimers and her elderly dad. If you are close to her and you are starting to worry about what you are seeing, I would suggest talking to her and letting her know you want to help. Having that conversation might also give you some insight into how mild or advanced his condition is. My husband has dementia. I am so fortunate to have lovely, caring neighbors. They take extra time to chat with him when he's out working in the yard and to check on him if anything looks out of the ordinary. If I'm away, they will look in on him from time to time. Right now, that's all we need and it gives me peace of mind without having to hire someone to stay with him – which he would resent and probably refuse right now. Have you had any one-on-one interaction with the wife? If you decide to, I would suggest inviting her over for coffee/tea so she is able to talk freely without concern of the husband being right around the corner.

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@debbraw

Hi @suerc – I think the issue of when its safe to leave a dementia patient alone is one of the most difficult ones that caregivers face. Everyone is different. And even in the same person, capabilities can vary from day to day. My guess is that if you are seeing issues, the wife has already seen them and is trying to deal with them. My heart goes out to anyone who is trying to care for both her husband with Alzheimers and her elderly dad. If you are close to her and you are starting to worry about what you are seeing, I would suggest talking to her and letting her know you want to help. Having that conversation might also give you some insight into how mild or advanced his condition is. My husband has dementia. I am so fortunate to have lovely, caring neighbors. They take extra time to chat with him when he's out working in the yard and to check on him if anything looks out of the ordinary. If I'm away, they will look in on him from time to time. Right now, that's all we need and it gives me peace of mind without having to hire someone to stay with him – which he would resent and probably refuse right now. Have you had any one-on-one interaction with the wife? If you decide to, I would suggest inviting her over for coffee/tea so she is able to talk freely without concern of the husband being right around the corner.

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@debbraw Very valid points you brought up. Boy, this gal is probably so torn and weary, perhaps she is hoping what she may be seeing in either her husband or dad are not as severe as they may be. @suerc If there are any family members [siblings/grandchildren/niece/nephew] hopefully she will approach them for their help. Most towns have a respite care system; in a town I lived in there was an order of nuns who were nurses, and did respite care regardless of faith. Also there are caregivers' groups. I wager she will welcome that coffee and a chance to talk.
Ginger

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@suerc

Thank you for your response it helps alot. We have a border collie / pit she is the sweetest thing. And then my son needed someone to take there choc lab for awhile while they move however we have had her awhile and it looks like it's easier for us to keep her as they have a 3 yr old that is not very nice to her and a 1 yr old. I think the 3 yr old has been very jealous for a yr that she does not get all the attention any more. But gabby is happier here. We also have a cat Teddy. Busy house

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Aww, I have a Staffy mix who’s name is Gabby. She’s a rescue as all my others have been. She is the one one the right. I was reading through this because my father suffered this ghastly disease. His mother and two brothers were also diagnosed before death. I tested positive for the APEO 4 gene. Scary, although I know it’s not a promise that I’ll suffer also. The most frightening thing is that I’m so aware of the early signs now since we were able to have hindsight on Daddy’s, I am recognizing signs in myself. I have a girlfriend who talks with me and acknowledges that she has seen them too. I can’t get my family to agree and take it seriously.

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I made a reply under @seurc about the dog and explained about my father and family and this disease. I’d just like to know when you can get your family to open their eyes. That ignoring the facts won’t make then go away.

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@debrat1

Aww, I have a Staffy mix who’s name is Gabby. She’s a rescue as all my others have been. She is the one one the right. I was reading through this because my father suffered this ghastly disease. His mother and two brothers were also diagnosed before death. I tested positive for the APEO 4 gene. Scary, although I know it’s not a promise that I’ll suffer also. The most frightening thing is that I’m so aware of the early signs now since we were able to have hindsight on Daddy’s, I am recognizing signs in myself. I have a girlfriend who talks with me and acknowledges that she has seen them too. I can’t get my family to agree and take it seriously.

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Hello @debrat1 Love your pups! I have a rescue Lab and our daughter will be getting a rescue this Friday! I got Napa when a family got a pup as a 'gift' and then tired of her.

I wish you the best and agree that the future is never known to any of us.

On the topic of family recognizing, acknowledging, etc. our health journeys I am reminded of the fact we can not change those things that are out of our control. Throughout my wife's 14+ year journey there were those who consistently thought she was not 'really' ill or that I was just an alarmist when they'd ask 'how is she doing?' and I would answer honestly.

Glad you have your pups! I love their love!

Strength, courage, and peace

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@debrat1

Aww, I have a Staffy mix who’s name is Gabby. She’s a rescue as all my others have been. She is the one one the right. I was reading through this because my father suffered this ghastly disease. His mother and two brothers were also diagnosed before death. I tested positive for the APEO 4 gene. Scary, although I know it’s not a promise that I’ll suffer also. The most frightening thing is that I’m so aware of the early signs now since we were able to have hindsight on Daddy’s, I am recognizing signs in myself. I have a girlfriend who talks with me and acknowledges that she has seen them too. I can’t get my family to agree and take it seriously.

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@debrat1 Welcome to Mayo Clinic Connect! We're glad you're here. I guess it can be both intimidating and enlightening to know that you have that gene. And that it might or might not cause you problems in the future to a greater degree than what you already recognized can be scary, am I right? Like @IndianaScott said, it's so important that family recognizes the issues. For my mother, she and my dad lived quite a distance away and I rarely saw them. On the times that I did I could really see what was going on. Please come back here and let us know more about yourself and let us know how we can help you.
Ginger

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@IndianaScott

Hello @debrat1 Love your pups! I have a rescue Lab and our daughter will be getting a rescue this Friday! I got Napa when a family got a pup as a 'gift' and then tired of her.

I wish you the best and agree that the future is never known to any of us.

On the topic of family recognizing, acknowledging, etc. our health journeys I am reminded of the fact we can not change those things that are out of our control. Throughout my wife's 14+ year journey there were those who consistently thought she was not 'really' ill or that I was just an alarmist when they'd ask 'how is she doing?' and I would answer honestly.

Glad you have your pups! I love their love!

Strength, courage, and peace

Jump to this post

Aww, so cute! I just hate it when people are so callous and decide to throw away an animal like trash. If your not going to be responsible then don’t get one. I agree. Ill tag you @gingerw to keep in loop. I kept telling mom that something was up with dad and she wouldn’t accept it. It even took me awhile. It’s strange looking back. Daddy was such an easy going, beloved and fun person who seldom lost his temper or said anything against others. There were several instances that I thought wow that is so unlike my dad. I remember exactly though when I realized something was definitely wrong though. He and mom were at my house and we, my mother and I, were discussing something about his mothers cooking being so good when I was small. When I say there was an explosion I’m not exaggerating. Out of the blue he exploded and jumped up screaming at me not to ever talk about his mother again and kept telling my mother to come on because he was leaving. I was dumbfounded. He went out the door. I told mom to wait and went after him. He was standing by the porch and I asked him what was wrong and if he’d sit down with me for a minute. I believe he was as confused as I was. He did sit and I asked him what was wrong and he said something about his mom again. I told him no one was talking bad and how much we all loved her. Then it was over. He came in and they stayed until the visit was over when it originally was going to be. I took mom aside and asked her about it. She aid he’d been doing strange things more often. That’s when I told her he has to see and doctor and can’t let it continue without knowing. I lost him a piece at a time after that. Long, slow and painful. One night my mom called me around 1:00am and says daddy has lost it and shoving her. I could hear him through the phone ranting. So not my father, he was gentle and my mother and him were best friends. I never heard a real argument between them. I live about two hours away from home there. I told her to tell daddy I wanted to talk to him. She told him and he got on the phone mad. He’s shouting she wouldn’t let him have the keys to the car. I was able to talk him down until he was calm and back to normal. He gave my mom the phone and I asked if she thought I should go over. She said no she thinks he’ll be fine now. I called the next morning and we discussed it. I explained that she can’t have him be physically combative towards you. He doesn’t mean it but that she could be hurt. It happened again in the middle of one night and we went through the same scenario. I told her after that, if it happens again she has to accept we will need to do something about it. My whole family are law enforcement officers and I’m well aware of something called a Baker Act. I’m sure everyone is aware too. I told her we were going to have to get him to the hospital and get him expedited help for not only her safety but his. A month or so later I drove over at 3:00 am in the rain after talking him down again. I got there and told daddy I wasn’t well and needed to go to the hospital and needed his help to go. I wanted this calm. When we got there I asked him to sit with mom a minute. Let me say this was not anything she wanted. I can’t explain how difficult it was for me. My daddy and I were very very close. I was his standing for a son. The oldest of two girls but a big tomboy. Daddy took me fishing, taught me basketball, took me to the place where the guys played pool and everywhere else I wanted with him. We were buddies. Anyway, I went in and explained the situation so they could have a heads up in case it went south. He was very calm and accepting. I think he understood.
This has gone on longer than I realized. I’ll finish in a later post but just wanted you to hear about my experience. Thanks!

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@debrat1

Aww, so cute! I just hate it when people are so callous and decide to throw away an animal like trash. If your not going to be responsible then don’t get one. I agree. Ill tag you @gingerw to keep in loop. I kept telling mom that something was up with dad and she wouldn’t accept it. It even took me awhile. It’s strange looking back. Daddy was such an easy going, beloved and fun person who seldom lost his temper or said anything against others. There were several instances that I thought wow that is so unlike my dad. I remember exactly though when I realized something was definitely wrong though. He and mom were at my house and we, my mother and I, were discussing something about his mothers cooking being so good when I was small. When I say there was an explosion I’m not exaggerating. Out of the blue he exploded and jumped up screaming at me not to ever talk about his mother again and kept telling my mother to come on because he was leaving. I was dumbfounded. He went out the door. I told mom to wait and went after him. He was standing by the porch and I asked him what was wrong and if he’d sit down with me for a minute. I believe he was as confused as I was. He did sit and I asked him what was wrong and he said something about his mom again. I told him no one was talking bad and how much we all loved her. Then it was over. He came in and they stayed until the visit was over when it originally was going to be. I took mom aside and asked her about it. She aid he’d been doing strange things more often. That’s when I told her he has to see and doctor and can’t let it continue without knowing. I lost him a piece at a time after that. Long, slow and painful. One night my mom called me around 1:00am and says daddy has lost it and shoving her. I could hear him through the phone ranting. So not my father, he was gentle and my mother and him were best friends. I never heard a real argument between them. I live about two hours away from home there. I told her to tell daddy I wanted to talk to him. She told him and he got on the phone mad. He’s shouting she wouldn’t let him have the keys to the car. I was able to talk him down until he was calm and back to normal. He gave my mom the phone and I asked if she thought I should go over. She said no she thinks he’ll be fine now. I called the next morning and we discussed it. I explained that she can’t have him be physically combative towards you. He doesn’t mean it but that she could be hurt. It happened again in the middle of one night and we went through the same scenario. I told her after that, if it happens again she has to accept we will need to do something about it. My whole family are law enforcement officers and I’m well aware of something called a Baker Act. I’m sure everyone is aware too. I told her we were going to have to get him to the hospital and get him expedited help for not only her safety but his. A month or so later I drove over at 3:00 am in the rain after talking him down again. I got there and told daddy I wasn’t well and needed to go to the hospital and needed his help to go. I wanted this calm. When we got there I asked him to sit with mom a minute. Let me say this was not anything she wanted. I can’t explain how difficult it was for me. My daddy and I were very very close. I was his standing for a son. The oldest of two girls but a big tomboy. Daddy took me fishing, taught me basketball, took me to the place where the guys played pool and everywhere else I wanted with him. We were buddies. Anyway, I went in and explained the situation so they could have a heads up in case it went south. He was very calm and accepting. I think he understood.
This has gone on longer than I realized. I’ll finish in a later post but just wanted you to hear about my experience. Thanks!

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Thank you for the first half of the story. Was he diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? Do these outbursts happen to most Alzheimer’s people? This scares me. So far my sister is quiet and compliant. She has had dementia for about 7 years. Is this something my husband and I need to watch and prepare for? Sallysue

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@debrat1

Aww, so cute! I just hate it when people are so callous and decide to throw away an animal like trash. If your not going to be responsible then don’t get one. I agree. Ill tag you @gingerw to keep in loop. I kept telling mom that something was up with dad and she wouldn’t accept it. It even took me awhile. It’s strange looking back. Daddy was such an easy going, beloved and fun person who seldom lost his temper or said anything against others. There were several instances that I thought wow that is so unlike my dad. I remember exactly though when I realized something was definitely wrong though. He and mom were at my house and we, my mother and I, were discussing something about his mothers cooking being so good when I was small. When I say there was an explosion I’m not exaggerating. Out of the blue he exploded and jumped up screaming at me not to ever talk about his mother again and kept telling my mother to come on because he was leaving. I was dumbfounded. He went out the door. I told mom to wait and went after him. He was standing by the porch and I asked him what was wrong and if he’d sit down with me for a minute. I believe he was as confused as I was. He did sit and I asked him what was wrong and he said something about his mom again. I told him no one was talking bad and how much we all loved her. Then it was over. He came in and they stayed until the visit was over when it originally was going to be. I took mom aside and asked her about it. She aid he’d been doing strange things more often. That’s when I told her he has to see and doctor and can’t let it continue without knowing. I lost him a piece at a time after that. Long, slow and painful. One night my mom called me around 1:00am and says daddy has lost it and shoving her. I could hear him through the phone ranting. So not my father, he was gentle and my mother and him were best friends. I never heard a real argument between them. I live about two hours away from home there. I told her to tell daddy I wanted to talk to him. She told him and he got on the phone mad. He’s shouting she wouldn’t let him have the keys to the car. I was able to talk him down until he was calm and back to normal. He gave my mom the phone and I asked if she thought I should go over. She said no she thinks he’ll be fine now. I called the next morning and we discussed it. I explained that she can’t have him be physically combative towards you. He doesn’t mean it but that she could be hurt. It happened again in the middle of one night and we went through the same scenario. I told her after that, if it happens again she has to accept we will need to do something about it. My whole family are law enforcement officers and I’m well aware of something called a Baker Act. I’m sure everyone is aware too. I told her we were going to have to get him to the hospital and get him expedited help for not only her safety but his. A month or so later I drove over at 3:00 am in the rain after talking him down again. I got there and told daddy I wasn’t well and needed to go to the hospital and needed his help to go. I wanted this calm. When we got there I asked him to sit with mom a minute. Let me say this was not anything she wanted. I can’t explain how difficult it was for me. My daddy and I were very very close. I was his standing for a son. The oldest of two girls but a big tomboy. Daddy took me fishing, taught me basketball, took me to the place where the guys played pool and everywhere else I wanted with him. We were buddies. Anyway, I went in and explained the situation so they could have a heads up in case it went south. He was very calm and accepting. I think he understood.
This has gone on longer than I realized. I’ll finish in a later post but just wanted you to hear about my experience. Thanks!

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Thanks for your sharing, @debrat1 I find it interesting and appreciate being able to read this post.

The first inclination I had with my MIL was when she visited our home. One floor, two bedrooms. She kept getting lost and not being able to find the bedroom, which was visible everywhere in the house. Plus that trip she always had to have her overcoat in view.

Thanks again! Looking forward to 'the rest of the story' as Paul Harvey used to say!

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