Dear Francy Help with Alzheimer’s Medications

by francy Dickinson

Just returned from training for a few days had a great crowd and did a nice class in senior emergency preparation. It’s always enjoyable to train a good group that are active in their minds and bodies even at advanced ages. The word is aging, but trust me – they’re doing it with grace. For all of you that are joining my blog today…thanks for the good time hope you enjoyed all the new information. By the way you will find my Care-Givers Workbook 101 on the products page of my website and it has loads of tips for caring for dementia and Alzheimer seniors.

Dear Francy: My husband does not want to take any medications for his Alzheimer’s. He has good health and he does not want to “feel funny” – I care for him in our home and I am so worried about it all.

Well, bad news for your husband, his Alzheimer’s has impaired his ability to make decisions for his own health and you get to choose if he needs different medications or care.  Your husband’s demeanor is only going to get worse. It will either go into highly frustrated and intense anxiety or it will slow into a non-responsive or retreating mode. Either way, they are not good for him or you.

Now, I know you have been a good kid and gotten a Health Care Directive and Power of Attorney to cover your husband. If not…this is the moment to do it. Go on the net and buy the Borderbund software called Family Law– it’s very inexpensive and it has a step by step program to take you through the legal part of the Health Care Directive. (Or buy a hard copy of the directive at Office Depot) Then go and get it notary stamped at the local bank and then make copies for his doctors so there is not question on who is making the decisions.

Then sit down and write your doctor ( a neurologist) a letter. On the top it will say. Please have doctor read this before our appointment on Thursday and then put into my husband’s file – his name here– Then you begin. You tell the doctor how your husband is acting at home. Is he upset and worrisome, or super quiet and not interacting with you? Just slowly go through a few things that bother you about it and ask the doctor to begin your husband on an emotional drug to keep him calm or keep him engaged in the world and a Alzheimer’s mediation that works for mild Alzheimer conditions. Always remember to ask for generic if he can so you can afford the medication. Then you will fax the letter (go to a Copy Shop for faxing if you need to) and make sure it is sent off and they receive it before your appointment. If you do not have an appointment make one and send the letter to arrive a couple of days head of your appointment.

This means the doctor has time to review your letter and make a review of your husband and his condition and when you arrive you will find him informed and ready to help you. Because this is really about you. You are the care giver, you are your husband’s only life line! Without you, he is not able to do anything. So, you are the important party here. If you are feeling overwhelmed and unable to give him good care, there is a problem. If the overwhelmed is from no medications, that is just not fair to you.

I have to help my husband with his meds twice a day. He would never, and I mean never remember, on his own. I had a day when I was training and then came home tired and he went all day without his meds. Morning and night. I had put them out, but I was not there to remind him. So, by the next day he was acting strange and I checked and was so disappointed in myself for not remembering to check on him. It’s hard for us as care givers. After all – I was tired and stressed with the training class and all that went around it and was gone, then home to be exhausted and losing my voice after training for five hours a day for three days…so, I was in need of a little TLC too!  No one can be perfect, but we can try to do as good a job as possible. The next morning we started again, I gave him his meds and he went forward on his plan. But his body did not, he had a very bad reaction to the meds with diarrhea after the body had gone a day without them. So, this is why meds are so important to take on time and for us, as care givers, to have a plan in place if we get tired or sick.

My husband had a cell phone, so if I am not going to be handy…I set the alarm for his pill time. He is still well enough to remember what the alarm is when it rings. But if he moves out of that stage – and into a deeper problem with memory – I will just call my friend or sister and ask them to call him and remind him and ask him to take the pills while he is on the phone.

George’s Zoloft is so important to his emotional health that it reflects right back on me if he does not take it. So, I always say if George misses the morning pills, that “I have missed my Zoloft” – Even if I personally do not take the meds, they effect my life so negatively if he forgets to take them- it feels like we are one with this medication. Medications for emotional and mental conditions are simply to be prescribed and taken. There is no excuse other than selfish behavior- the reason for so many homeless people is that they have problems taking their meds and it reflects so badly on their abilities they can not function properly without them. Dementia and Alzheimer’s is a combo of emotional and mental conditions that have to be cared for and treated with medications to ease the symptoms.

Often my husband will ask me,” Don’t you think I take too many pills?” He can do this over and over again. So, I have a list of his meds and what they do for him and I just show him the list and ask him which pills he wants to stop taking? – The answer is always, “Well I suppose they’re all OK, you should have shown that to me before.”  (Trust me, I have shown this list to him on numerous occasions, but his memory for things like this is simply non-existent. This having a list handy is really a life saver for me- on the daily repeats that he now endures)

So, to review:

  • Get your legal papers in order so you’re really accepted as the person in charge of decisions for anyone with dementia/Alzheimer’s
  • Explain the changes in your spouses behavior to the doctor in a letter – sent before his appointment. Then you will not have to have an embarrassing confrontation in front of the doctor. This will allow the specialist (neurologist) to make a better choice of medications. Sign the letter with your name and Power of Attorney on the bottom…so he knows you have the ability to make these decisions.
  • Make sure medications are taken on time, everyday…no matter what is happening in your life. Most of these drugs are taken with food, so after breakfast and dinner is better. Ask for generic for your budget and if they are too expensive- tell the doctor to give you a slip that you can fill out and send into the drug company and they will gift you the drug – if you’re on a tight income range.
  • Remember the care giver is just as important as the patient. You are the reason for his health and well being. You are the strength that is going to carry him on for a long time in your own home. If he wants to be in his own home, you get to set the rules and taking meds and keeping him safe is your job. You make the decisions now. That can be hard for people that have had long time marriages and the husband has been the power point of the relationship. But life changes, you now have to stop being the nice girl that listens and follows and become the assertive lady that sets the pace and keeps the care level high.
  • Think of yourself as part of a care team. Your husband, then you, as the care giver, and then the doctor…that’s the triad that is going to make this tough situation of giving care for the long term, to Alzheimer’s spouse – successful in your home.  

I applaud you for your kindness and patience in your care giving. Alzheimer’s takes more than a Seniors mind, it takes the once sweet relationship of husband and wife and turns it on it’s head. It leaves the care giver lonely and feeling alone before the spouse has even died. But you are not alone, you have so many others that are right behind you and you need only ask questions and we will all try to help.

Please go and enjoy the rest of the Alzheimer blogs on my Dear Francy blogs and visit my website www.seniorcarewithspirit.comto get more information. Don’t forget, when you get to the stage that you need  care facility help for your loved one, please contact me and let me help you through that process with our Loving MemoriesSenior Care Facility Placement Service that is FREE for you to use.

Thank you, francy

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