Caring for someone with dementia / Alzheimer's

Posted by Scott, Volunteer Mentor @IndianaScott, Aug 30, 2016

Thanks for the great idea, @colleenyoung. I think a specific discussion is warranted given the challenges dementia can present to caregivers.

My mother-in-law (MIL) had what was finally determined to be frontal temporal dementia. She had the disease from her 60s until she passed away at 86. My wife was especially involved in her mom’s caregiving due to some serious denial in other family members and a GP who refused to diagnose, even when significant deficits were obvious (mistaking the UPS deliveryman for her husband and not knowing the difference between roads and sidewalks). The most unfortunate result of this, to me, was the lost time when my MIL and her family could have been having meaningful and important discussions about significant matters of importance to her and them.

In my wife’s years of fighting her brain cancer, she, too, exhibited many of the aspects of mental degradation and physical losses one would affiliate with a dementia patient.

As an aside, for several years I worked for the national Alzheimer’s Association raising money for their research programs nationwide.

I wish everyone struggling with this disease and their caregivers and families strength and peace.

@lindasmith

It seems like everyone thinks I’m the one who is losing my mind! Most people have no idea how frustrating answering and clarifying the same question is, and yet, the same person can play bridge. I am my husbands caregiver and I get so frustrated, but then I finally remind myself to take the focus off him and drop the judgement. For me, I get tired and know that the likely hood of all this effort is what? So am training my brain to stay in the present:

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Hello @lindasmith I know each patient and their journey in this is different, however I did come to grips with one thing while my wife and my MIL were on theirs.

I had to learn to do what I simply called 'suspending logic' with them. In their cases the disease was what caused their mental deficits so no amount of trying to correct or explain did any good. So I suspended logic and just began to go with THEIR flow.

Not for everyone I'm sure, but it was a significant help to us in our journeys.

Very wise thinking. Each journey needs to be traveled on the best responses for each situation, and you need to figure it out to some degree. I can't say that I suspended logic and left a lot of the understanding to the period of time after they were gone. I need to find the logic in time because it is necessary for my healing and forgiveness. It is very helpful to be surrounded by some comfort and support, and I didn't have much of that. And I was blamed for the problems in the first place, so that stopped my efforts in reaching out for help. I don't have anger in my heart over my past anymore, and I managed to find a way to live comfortably without losing my home. Life is good on the farm at age 83. I have some peace of mind. It has all worked out o.k. Dorisena

@dorisena

Very wise thinking. Each journey needs to be traveled on the best responses for each situation, and you need to figure it out to some degree. I can't say that I suspended logic and left a lot of the understanding to the period of time after they were gone. I need to find the logic in time because it is necessary for my healing and forgiveness. It is very helpful to be surrounded by some comfort and support, and I didn't have much of that. And I was blamed for the problems in the first place, so that stopped my efforts in reaching out for help. I don't have anger in my heart over my past anymore, and I managed to find a way to live comfortably without losing my home. Life is good on the farm at age 83. I have some peace of mind. It has all worked out o.k. Dorisena

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Hi @dorisena So delightful to hear you are doing well! Now I want to go watch an episode of my favorite old farm TV show — Green Acres!

Scott, I am so glad you enjoy fairy tales. We tried to get our grandchildren to watch the show so they would understand how TV was in the early days, and they couldn't identify with any reason why we would watch such a show. They didn't understand the term "farce." Our grandchildren learned the real farm life and showed champion animals at the fair. They got big checks in the auction of their market animals and spent it going to agricultural college. So they couldn't identify with the silly humor of that show. We never thought of it as a farm show, however. It was just silly Hollywood humor. We laughed.
A neighboring homestead is named "Green Acres" and we smile when we drive by. Our grandchildren don't get it. Dorisena

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