Advanced Alzheimer’s/Dementia Help for Care Givers

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Tips for families caring for advanced Alzheimer’s seniors. by francy Dickinson

When your senior is confused…Tips to help with care giving.

Dear Francy: Mother does not remember me any longer. I can hardly go into her room without crying. That makes her confused and she cries…I want her close to me, I want to care for her…but my heart is broken. 

Living life “in the now” is a very hard thing to do, so here are some tips to help you through this awful time in both of your lives. First, would you do me a favor and just trust me that your mother has not really forgotten you…she remembers in her inner mind and heart that you represent love and caring for her. So you just have to try hard to work with that thought.

Ideas for caring for Elders with Dementia:

  1. If you took a nap and woke up to a world around you that was not familiar to you, can you imagine the fear you would have? That is what is happening to your senior when they wake…or go a few minutes without input…they get caught in a world of no memory. They become frightened, angry, upset, totally overwhelmed with fear–their mind running 24/7 with nerves. You must keep your senior connected to your neurologist. Even if the appointments are only every few months…you want to check in with the memory clinic for help. They may take the senior off the heavy brain drugs because they are no longer working. Usually, the drugs are given in a combination to treat the patient for as long as they get a response. Once off those meds the mind of the senior regresses fast. But we are talking about treating the signs of the regression…the fear, the anger, the upset, the nerves. So you need to keep a running note of your care giving days so the doctor can see where they can prescribe different meds to calm and give the senior an underlining feeling of peace in their mind.
  2. You must accept the “living in the now” concept because this is how the senior is living their day. They wake up to confusion – to a life that is out-of-place and they try to cope. Your job is to help them. No longer address them as mom, dad or auntie…call them by their given name. Remember the farther they regress they may recall a family nickname that they were called as a child. “Sissy, Sonny, Toots, Cutie, Sweetie, Kittens” Families often give young children nicknames and the senior may find comfort in that name once again. Always smile when you talk to them…remember they will react as a child does to a face…if you are angry or upset…they will reflect your emotions…that is what a child or dementia patient does. So force yourself to stay “in the now” and “act” calm and happy…that way your elder will be calm and happy.
  3. Take breaks…overwhelmed with sorrow means you need a break. Ask your neighbor to come over a couple of times a week for two hours and sit with your senior…you can take a walk, go for a ride or do the grocery shopping. Ask a cousin or family member that is older and retired to come and give you a couple of hours a week. Ask your children and grand children to come and visit for a couple of hours each week. Yes, you have to arrange the time…no one looks forward to this task..but they will respond with love “if you ask”. So write down a few names of people who will help you just for a short visit. Then call two or three each week to fill your week with breaks here and there.
  4. Deep breath. You will find when you are upset you hold your breath.I do not know why this happens, but we tend to tense up and hold on to our breathing. So, begin a program of taking in a breath with your nose and holding it a moment and then very slowly let it go. Like a balloon deflating…It will release the tension and the stress on your body as you force yourself to breath. I do it in a series of three as many times as I can during the day…just this simple trick will allow your body to relax.
  5. Smile…remember the rule of smiling through tears. Smiles allow others to read your face as calm and in-charge. When you are in-charge the senior in care will feel relaxed and know you have their back. It may sound silly…but it is so true that I implore you to smile.
  6. Set a repeated pace to the day. It is a proven fact that when children are raised with a structured daily routine they are found to be more emotionally stable. So if your senior is constantly trying to remember who, what and where they are…this underlying feeling of a routine…keeps their inner mind relaxed. Plan the day around you, not your senior. Up at a certain time, eat, do exercise, then rest. Quiet time, TV or radio time and then a nap. Up again to cleaning up time, teeth, face, more walking or exercise in the chair. A puzzle on a table to work,a game of cards, a craft project and then a rest for the afternoon…usually a nap in their chair. At 4PM there is always tea and cookies to keep the blood sugar high for the evening and keep the senior from a “Sundowner crash”. Then TV news to keep their mind thinking and you talking about your day. Rest time…dinner time. Then talk time…right after dinner while you are cleaning up the kitchen you have the senior sit quietly and you talk to them about the day. Who called, whose birthday is coming up…what time of year it is and tell them of your own day. Just use a sing-song voice tone and matter of fact talk through things of the day. The senior may or may not respond. If they do respond – listen to them and go with their mind. If they talk of years past, or a fear, or hover on something fearful. Take note of that and do not go to that part of their brain with your conversation again. Maybe a kidnapping or violent event on the news got them thinking they would be hurt…you just change that around and take note not to mention that again.
  7. Find an in-home nurse practitioner to come and check-in on your senior. There is no reason to constantly worry the senior over the big trip to the doctor. Just keep medications that are palliative or for the seniors comfort. The rest of it can all just drift away and their body can adjust to the natural way of their journey.
  8. TV game shows are very good for dementia. They have excitement in the people –clapping, laughing and the senior will respond with pleasure. Radio shows are very good for seniors. Many elders were raised on radio…they like their own childhood music styles and NPR or local radio stations that feature music of their era are great to have playing in the background to “Ground” the senior’s very busy mind.
  9. Just because they no longer talk…does not mean they no longer think. They have just lost the part of the brain that allows them to speak. So you have to talk to them as though they are speaking. You have to look at them and learn their cues to tell you their needs. Or if you are in the black over their needs…you just say to yourself…”what would I want to be doing right now?” You do as much as you can and then release your own worry. You are doing what your heart is telling you to do…that is all that is needed.
  10. Remember, smile…speak in a strong tone…so the senior can hear your voice. Face the senior and talk so they can see and read your face and don’t be afraid of making mistakes…we all do that every day. Just do your best to care for your senior with love. Then tell yourself…what do I need today? Keeping yourself well fed, exercised and calm is the key to your own health and that will reflect onto your senior in positive ways.

Thank you so for giving your love to your family…you are doing a job that no one else will do. You are loving and caring for your loved one. I so appreciate your time, love and the years that you are gifting to that senior. Taking their hand and helping them down the path of their last days is a very hard thing to do…you are doing fine. I trust your judgement.
Blessings, francy

Elder Passing with Honor and Hospice

How Hospice gives such help and care, along with Firemen visiting a retiree– as he faces lung cancer’s last days. by francy Dickinson
Firestation 13s in Tacoma, WA

Firestation 13 visiting an old chum

It is hard to decide when to call for help when you are in the middle of care giving. My brother –in-law was moving downhill with his cancer and the veil of pain and fear were starting to blur. After years of fighting lung cancer, the fight seemed to kick into high gear fast. There was no day/date stamped on him anywhere to know when to call for that extra help that Hospice gives.

The idea of Hospice had taken over my sister and brother-in-law and they felt it was like saying; “the end”. It kept them from the call for help and they suffered alone as the daily tasks of living were beginning to close in around them. As his breathing got more and more difficult, his mind lowering in clarity from reduced oxygen – it was making days, night sleeping and common chores harder and harder to achieve.

Finally, the day came…when there was no ‘feeling better, tomorrow’.  The call was hard for them to make and the first visit of the home nurse was tentative. Did he want a special bed? ‘NO’ Did he need a walker? ‘NO’  Their conversation was rough, short and difficult for all concerned.  The Hospice nurse had been down this road before, she knew the signs and she just told them she was there…it was their choice and they would take baby steps together.

Within just a few days of that first visit; the situation had worsened and another call was made to Hospice. This time the services were really needed and they started to roll in the door. The cancer was making him feel so weak that he was unable to go into the bathroom alone. Walking was impossible and eating had long-lost its appeal. His oxygen levels were so low that he was unable to catch his breath.

The fear and worry that my sister felt, watching him suffer, was overwhelming. Hospice could hear it in her voice as she called them backed and asked how they could help her. This time the flood doors of care suddenly opened.  Out poured professional help that was organized and calming.

Hospital bed loaded down with memory foam mattress and adjustable controls moved into the front room. The home had a fabulous view of the Tacoma harbor and the sun filled every inch as they moved out furniture to make a place of honor for the bed. An ‘over the bed’ table was adjusted in place so it could be used to hold his basket of personal tools. Finally he could sleep in a bed instead of in his chair. His chair was honored with a gel cushion to give his thinning body comfort.

A commode was put into place by the bed during the night and over the toilet during the day to give arms – used to steady and help with standing back up. A wheelchair; small enough to go thru tight places and still hold his tall frame securely was delivered. A new oxygen machine that would dial-up to 10 PCI and add a little water to the mix to keep the nose moist while using the air was set up.

During the next week, a cleaner arrived to scrub down the shower and vacuum any dust away so my sister could concentrate on care of her husband, not the worry of keeping the house clean. The nurse arrived to take down the medications and adjust them for pain relief and put all the pills for the week into a larger daily pill container marked with four times a day. The pills that had once been on every table in the living area were now brought into order and ease of use. No more confusion or missed pain medications, it was all organized to remove the confusion. Very intricate information was written down in a simple and easy to read hand for my sister to administer the morphine at just the right time during the day. A list to write the timing and the result of the dose was established and put in a place that was easy to find and use. Common nursing tips and transfer training were also shared.

Food suggestions and how to’s were left so the small intake of food for my brother-in-law would be productive and comforting. Explanations of how to use ginger ale for stomach gas and calming was added into the mix.  Simple suggestions and easy to do things that made a huge step up in the care giving and comfort level were carefully explained and examples shown.  The change in comfort was immediate and the feeling of panic and worry began to be replaced with confidence.

The bath lady arrived…after first being rejected as a privacy issue…she was now welcomed and able to prove her skills in giving a bath to someone who could hardly move or breathe without great labor. The bath was finished in quick order and a light massage was given. My brother-in-law returned to his chair feeling clean, warm and relaxed.  A simple service that a trained professional gives can lift the spirit. Instead of the worry that their son had gone through when he had changed the shower head and added the support chair. Then he had added his dad and tried to help him with the shower, the discomfort was high and the experience was exhausting. Not now. Now the bath lady has the senior in and out of the shower with time to spare.

A Chaplain showed up on the doorstep; just to introduce herself. Not wanting to intrude on comfort or spiritual issues…she just shared time with my brother-in-law and took in the family dynamics around her.  As she met each family member, she chatted easily and yet expertly with them finding their point of pain and bringing it up into the light.

Each time another issue came to a head, my sister was now able to call and get an RN to return her call and assure her of steps to take to keep the care in a positive mode. As the care became more intense, the time of sleep began to dwindle and the help line to the support system grew.

When talking to my brother-in-law the Hospice team noticed that he was a long time retired fire fighter in the city and they asked what station he worked. One of the team stopped by the Firehouse 13 in the north end of the city. A couple of days later, the large fire truck pulled up in front of the house and out came the young men from his old firehouse. Entering the house and standing around my brother –in-law they gave him support and respect of service.  They chatting about old stories and thanked him again for all of his dedication to his duty ‘in his day’. The view of those young men surrounding my brother-in-law as he carefully worked for each breath of air was so over-powering. Honor; it is so important…emotions and love are so dramatic. My brother-in-law was empowered by the visit – his heart soared high that night.

His adult children that had all planned a weeklong camping trip before the Labor Day holiday now put it on hold. They all rallied to the side of my sister. One stayed over at night; (leaving her family of a husband and two young sons) then returning to her own home to care for family during the day. Then she drove over to her mother’s at night to fix dinner and sleep so she could help with nighttime care.  Their son came over every morning early to prepare a good breakfast, fix anything that needed attention and give his dad help with the daily challenges. The other daughter (with a young infant that was sent to the day care) spends time with her family during the day to keep her Dad’s spirit high as he struggled through the pain.

The journey to life’s end, when you’re fighting cancer,  is never a breeze no matter how brave and how the patient fights. But, it can be easier and calmer when you just reach out and ask for help. Hospice is not the ‘end’— it’s the beginning of care and attention that assists a family and patient through life. It is as important as the highly trained pediatric care team is for newborns. It is just a call away – please make that call. Don’t wait for fear and exhaustion to take over and make the journey even harder.

At this moment, we are all working through the end of life issues with my brother-in-law…but now we are all a part of team that belongs to him. Each of us bringing our skills and special love to his side to ease his days and fill his nights.

Honoring all that served…even if it was a long time ago…serving our country, community and family counts. We thank you for your service and embrace your life’s story.

Here is to Hospice…and here’s to a caring family that understands just giving their time and love makes a difference in the journey towards life’s end.

Thank you, francy

Shut-In: Senior Energy Fruit Shake…YUMM

Energy shake recipe for seniors – easy to make and tastes like a milkshake treat. by Francy Dickinson

Friday Special Treat Day

Shut-In Energy Shake

Totally Yummy Easy Energy Shake

I am going to try to update you with a Friday Recipe treat each week. I like to do easy recipes for those living alone, shut-ins, and those that are on real tight budgets. So, you will have a lot to choose from as the weeks go by.

George is getting more and more into shakes instead of solid foods for all his meals. He likes his in the mid-day. Alzheimer’s and it various medications can take away the feeling of hunger. That means its extra important to keep him filled with good food at the right times of the day. He has lost his taste and smell…they have gone down to almost nothing…so to give him a treat that tastes good is not easy. This shake has worked so well for him.

A good energy shake has protein. Now I like to keep protein drinks around so he can have something to give him a Boost during the day…but you can have a can of protein powder on your shelf too. The powder is less expensive and you want to buy a small box not one of the giant sizes. (we leave those big boxes of protein powder for the body builders) I suggest you get the Vanilla flavor so you can add fruit or chocolate, or even some coffee to flavor it in your shakes.

The good news about this shake is that it is easy to do with the new frozen fruits. I don’t know what they are doing, but this new flash frozen fruit is really adding high quality to the shakes. I get a medley of berries and use a couple for nite time treats…and add a cup of them to this shake and I have plenty for a few shakes. I find them at Walmart or Winco very inexpensive and it means I can serve the shakes all through the year. The frozen fruit adds to the taste and the feeling of an ice milk shake that George adores. This is a winner.

You will see that I add a few little things like 1/2 container of yogurt (flavor of your choice) for its rich taste and good probiotic. Then I top that off with a hit of Metamucil…it will add a little bulk to your drink and you will never know it was there!

My brother-n-law is loosing his teeth and they are very sore. He is fighting cancer and it’s not the time to dedicate to dental work. So his food needs to be soft and easy. This is a perfect shake to give him the feeling of a treat with nothing but good stuff in it.

Yes, you can use sugar…but I think we can all use a little less of that and a sugar substitute is so easy to use and no worry over diabetes. You can just do what you like and make it your own treat. You can make it and divide it into two for two people or give yourself one in the fridge to grab at night when you are tired.

This shake is perfect for your day time cooler that I like you to have by your TV chair, too. You will see that changing eating habits is not as hard as you think. If you cooked for 6 and now there are only 2 of you…or if you have lost your spouse and have to prepare food for just yourself. This type of thing is just the ticket.

As a caregiver…take a look at the protein in this drink. Different protein powders give you different measurements. Your senior really does need that protein to keep alert and muscle strong. So try to work a shake in at least twice a week, if not once a day. Adding a banana and other fruits is great too…but the frozen fruits to make this like a milk shake.

Here is the connection for the recipe and you can print it off easily from my recipe page. You will find a lot of family recipes and Shut-In recipes on my page too.

Click Here to Visit and Print Recipe

Shut-In:/ Easy Senior Energy Shake Recipe

  • You have a choice here choose one:
  •    1 Energy drink like Boost (vanilla flavor) OR
  •    1 cup low-fat milk, 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  •    Then add to it, in blender:
  •    1/4 cup citrus fruit juice of choice (I use lemon)
  •    1 small pack of Splenda sweetener
  •    1/4 tsp vanilla
  •    1 cup frozen mixed berries (this needs frozen ones)
  •    1/2 container of vanilla yogurt
  •    1 tsp Metamucil (optional but good for you)

Instructions

  1. The beauty of this is in the frozen berries. They are flash freezing fruits so they are sooo good now. I get the packages in the frozen foods at Walmart and I use them in shakes so they give it the feeling of a frosted milk shake instead of just a protein drink. Oh boy, these are yumm.
  2. You can use your own protein drink that is chilled in frig or you can just get some protein powder and a cup of low-fat milk. Put either one of those (your choice) into your blender, or food processor. Add in the 1/4 cup citrus juice that you like and the sweetener with the vanilla. Then the berries or other frozen fruits (always use 1 cup) use 1/2 of a container of yogurt that matches flavors with your drink, I use berry or vanilla. I like to add the Metamucil to make it even better for George. Then hit the button and swirl until it is thick and rich.
  3. Pour it into one of the new large juice cups with lids. I show one in the picture above. These are at all the stores now and have a built-in straw. What I like about them is that you can close the lid and tuck in the straw to sit them on a table or put it in your walker and not worry about it spilling…Its so handy that way. Look for them at the grocery store and get a fun color…I have a red and pink one…George has blue…it makes it easy to spot around the house.
  4. Perfect shake to start your morning, for an afternoon snack or a dinner replacement. Some times you just don’t feel like cooking, but you need your protein and a great tasting treat!
Hope this helps with ideas for senior care givers. Feeding “Elders in Care” is a very hard thing to do. You will find more ideas on my recipe page…OH, this shake has no age limit….we can all enjoy it!
Thanks again for all you do for your senior family
PS//Excited about my new book coming out in September called “Guiding Family Care” I will let you know when it hits Amazon…would you click on the right side of the page and sign up for my site updates and leave me a comment…I love comments…OH and if you liked the read…please hit the LIKE button..thanks!  francy

George took a Fall

Guide for families giving care to seniors

Out this fall by francy 'Guiding Family Care'

George took a fall and I wanted to update you. by francy Dickinson

I am in the middle of designing my front cover for my ‘Guiding Family Care’ eBook for senior in home care-giving. I am going to have it out by September. So the cover has to be done… I was in the middle of the design process and George took a fall.

He had gone downstairs to let the dogs outside and he went out on his own. He was doing things out there, without a cane or walker. He tripped over the hose,  landed on his hands and Cheryl saw him go down and let out a holler. Gosh that is a scary call.

I raced downstairs and the dogs were hovering over him, he was in shock. I had him stay still for a while to see what was injured and he was able to move. Cheryl and I got him to his knees and then to his feet and over through the downstairs door to her sofa. He sat there for a while saying very little and confused. His Alzheimer’s takes such a hit when anything like this happens.

When he got up he was sore and I had him go up the stairs slowly with our help and then the pain started to hit. His ribs had been cracked and his arm and shoulder were bruised. So for the last three days we have had quite the time of it. I am giving him full care; that means transition, grooming, bathroom transition and bringing him meals. He is in less pain in his recliner chair, but unable to move it without help. He has a whistle that he blows when he needs me. It’s just simple things with care giving, but they all add up to time and energy and added stress when the daily routine is blown apart by a fall.

–> I think George blew the whistle less today…so its been four days and the pain is still there, but getting less. He is learning how to adjust to it and walk with his walker again. I took him out the door and across the street – to get the mail and he walked with more speed today. His Parkinson’s tends to make him shuffle, but he was able to pick up his feet in a better walking stance. I can not let him just sit…he has to keep thinking and moving or he will lose his movement memory.

Just another bump in the road that care givers have to adjust to and think about. I thought I would share it all with you, so you can understand the continued stress of being a care giver…at the same time allowing him to heal slowly and get his mind and his muscles strong. So easy to think that falls are the end of an elder’s life. But that is rarely the case; they just make life more difficult…so I am doing my best to motivate him to move safely and heal strong.

My personal frustration is trying to work in-between the whistle blows…but I am getting there. Leave me a comment if you have a similar challenge. OH, a good friend has done an author page for me, if you would be kind enough to visit I would appreciate it. Just click here. When I get the eBook done I will ask you to spread the news for me. It should be out in a couple of weeks, I’m excited and in hopes that George keeps healing so my writing time can increase. Keep your fingers crossed; I want to get this book out the door and into the hands of families that need care giving help on a budget.

Blessings, francy

Alzheimer’s and Afraid

Alzheimer’s and afraid to leave the house or safety of a room:

Fears overcome seniors with dementiaDear Francy; My mother is terrified of leaving the living room…she no longer wants to go to the bathroom or to her bedroom. She feels safe in the living room and she clings onto the chair and I have to pull her out of the room to the bathroom. What can I do to release this fear?

First rule; do not connect with the fear yourself. In other words, do not show worry on your face over her fear..treat your mother with smiles and talk to her in a normal tone of voice. Get her to follow you on a daily tour of the house, maybe have her hold a dust wand or rag while you are touring so she feels the movement of cleaning the home. For instance; “Mother would you come and help me with the laundry for a few minutes?” This everyday routine is soothing and your voice shows no change of character…on a good day she will follow you because she is doing something “for you”. That is how our family responds to us the best…they do things “for us”. Lunch time, you ask her to come make a sandwich for you. If you set up a commode to use; place it at the far end of the living room so she has to walk over to it and be close to leaving the room and then slowly move the commode every few days closer to the bathroom. Taking it easy and slow and using your mild calming voice is the ticket.

Ideas:

  • Always remember to review the small and large problems with her doctor so he can adjust her medications to help her through her fears.
  • Therapy for dementia and Alzheimer’s is not considered helpful when they go into the moderate and above stages.
  • Calming, reassuring and cheerful demeanor is the best treatment to receive positive responses.
  • Third party care can release the tension and often kick-start the brain into a different focus. Ask a family friend to visit, get an in-home care person for a couple of hours a few times a week, etc. Change is fearful for the Senior but it also might spark different feelings that can change the atmosphere of the home.
  • Use music to change moods. Morning music is upbeat and happy, afternoon is slow and calming, evening is fun music with voice, and nite time music is slow and calming.
  • If TV is on all the time; monitor it like you would a young child. The TV voices and noises make a difference in the senior’s mood. Find stations that are of interest and then turn it off for a few hours in afternoon to encourage a rest or nap without noise.
  • Ask the doctor about sweets; I find afternoon sweets with tea help the brain to re-energize. I give George cookies with tea at 4PM every day…then make sure his dinner is on time around 6-6:30PM with meds

Dear Francy; My Aunt is not sleeping in her bed, she is sleeping on the couch and it is not a comfortable couch to sleep on. How can I get her to move to the bedroom again?

IDEAS:

  • Make sure the bedroom holds comforting things in it and not memories of things that might upset her. Pictures of spouse or relatives that have passed can be overburdening. Move the pictures from the wall and put them somewhere else in the house. Make the room comforting. Update the room in small ways and refresh bedding.
  • Take your Aunt into the room while you are there and have a talk on her bed. Allowing her to reset her mind that the room is warm and friendly. Looking through her drawers and have her help you sort them out. Get her re-involved with the room in a positive manner each time you visit. Even having her take a nap, on her bed, while you clean the house or do her chores.
  • Put in a night light in the room and in the hallway to the bathroom for ease of night vision
  • Make sure there is a phone, emergency button or a cell phone available by her bedside table
  • Change the living room furniture so the couch is not as comforting as it has been in the past. Place a TV chair in the prime space of TV viewing. Make sure the chair is comforting and has a table that is easy for her to use for her snacks and other personal behaviors.
  • Call her mid-day and make sure she is not napping all day. In order to have good rest, she needs to have exercise and movement during the day hours
  • If she is using the TV to keep her mind busy…put a small TV in her room with an under pillow speaker
  • If she is responding to time alone, get her a senior rescue anipal. Like a cat, that will fill her day with movement and love. Older animals are easy to adapt to seniors and they mind the senior’s problems like unsteady and forgetful. Cats can stay indoors, use a potty box and eat and drink from a larger bowl that does not have to be replaced during the day. Place a fluffy cat blanket on her bed so she can welcome the cat in the room with her and not feel lonely in bed.

I hope this helps with the everyday issues that all families face with their dementia senior’s care. Thank you, for your gift of care, these are hard issues to face on a daily basis. Keep talking and asking for help…your care has so much value. It is totally understanding that frustration and self doubt will consistently arise while caring for anyone with dementia. Keep strong; your love and kindness do make a difference in this person’s daily routine.  

HELP- Alzheimer’s Anger Too Hard to Handle Alone

Senior and Alzheimer’s Anger Issues by francy

Dear Francy; I am an only child of two wonderful people. My dad is now in his eighties and has dementia and he is getting so angry and hard for mom and I to take care of– what can we do? We are tired, sad and just in a daze.

George in Fun times B4 Alzheimer's

Before the Alzheimer's Anger there was Fun

Well blessings on you and your mom. How lucky he is to have you both and don’t be fooled, he loves you and knows you are there to help. But Alzheimer’s and other dementias just take over the brain and you need help to make it easier for your dad and the care givers. So, what I need you to do is to be calm and just take a deep breath and then think like a doctor would think. Because when a body is off kilter, it has to be diagnosed and any possible medication or treatment has to be given to help.

RULE ONE: GET THE RIGHT DOCTOR FOR THE JOB

Now this may seem so simple but if you do not have a full time neurologist you need one right now. Today: ask a few friends, your family doctor or family members that might have used a neurologist in the past and get a name. Or go to your local drug store and ask them for three names of neurologists within a 20 min drive that prescribe for dementia/Alzheimer’s patients. Get a name and immediately call and ask to make an appointment and tell them your father is in great need. If they have a long wait list, ask them to refer you to another neurologist. Get this done.
DO NOT GO TO YOUR USUSAL FAMILY DOCTOR. Please understand that your family doctor is trained for caring for the normal range of body aliments. He/she is not an expert on brain chemistry, medications and treatments for brain ailments. Just as you would go to a heart surgeon for  bi-pass surgery, you will go to a neurologist to have them help your dad with his dementia.

Once you have that appointment. Take your mum out of the house, to a coffee shop and have a notebook with you. Ask her to help you write a list of things that your dad has been doing and try hard to put a range of time on those events.

EXAMPLE NOTES FOR ALZHEIMER’S PATIENTS REVIEW: 

  1. Last summer; Dad started getting shorter tempered. At that time we could calm him down and the next day he would be fine.
  2. September; Dad just started to be angry on almost a daily basis about small and large things. Nothing we say seems to release him of his anger. We try and try to do things that will help, but he just throws things, and uses terrible language and we are feeling so upset on a daily basis.
  3. During the holidays; dad got even worse. He was mad at our attempts to celebrate or to have holiday dinners. He refused to even sit at the table and he did not even eat the pumpkin pie (his favorite)
  4. Now on a daily basis; mother and I find our feelings hurt and we still try not to engage in his rants. We are tired and getting personally depressed. We need help.

Can you see the review? It’s simple and to the point– it allows the doctor to see the timing of his decline and to see what you have done to help your dad. Now the next job is to get a list of his medications together for the doctor to review.

EXAMPLE OF MEDICATION LISTING TO TAKE TO DOCTOR ON EACH VISIT:

You will prepare this list only once and type it on the computer. Then you will update it as appropriate and take it into the doctor on each visit. Any doctor needs this list to review. You will also make a copy and keep it in your handbag for Emergency Room visits. This is important for anyone with a brain/emotion illness they will have heavy duty meds and the hospital and all doctors need to know what the medications and supplements are and how to treat any other physical problem around them.

1/ 1,000 unit of vitamin C       morning w/food

1 multiple vitamin       morning w/food

Doxazosin mesylate     4mg     One a day (to relax bladder muscles)/nite

Hydrochlorothiazide 12.5mg per day 1/2 pill  (for blood pressure) /early day

Ok this is just an example- but you want to take time to read all of the pill containers and write down the name of the pill, the amount , what the pill is for and when to take it – plus the w/food.

Now that you have done this…anyone can come and take care of your dad and make sure they give him just the right amount of medications at the right time. This allows you and your mom to relax and know you can add a professional or family member to the care giving list. And your doctor is going to be able to enter the information in their computer and advise you on supplements to add or take away from the list and medications that will enhance your dad’s life at home while you and your mother are giving him care.

TIME TO BE REAL WITH YOURSELF

No one, not even a loving daughter/son or spouse can be with a person that is combative, angry, and demands full time care without breaks. A care giver has to stay strong in order to give care. So, you have to put down a schedule in your notebook with your mum. Talk about it and be real about it. Stick to the schedule and do whatever you can to make it your bible.

EXAMPLE:

Monday: Mother’s day all day and I will call on the way home and see if she needs anything picked up from store.

Tuesday: Mother has morning with dad…then a neighbor, church friend, relative or professional care person comes in around 1PM and stays until 3PM and mother leaves the house. She can shop, she can read quietly at the library, she can go for a walk, or she can just drive somewhere and be quiet in the car. But she is out of the house and is quiet and away from your dad. This way she will feel a release and be calmed and regenerated.  I will call her on my way home and make sure all is well.

Wednesday: Mother is home all day and I will stop over after work. I will help her with any chores around the house and make dinner for her and dad. I will clean up and she will just sit while I chat with her and dad. If there is a situation, I will do my best to relax it and refocus dad. I will make arrangements for my own family to have dinner and an evening – without me at my own home.

Thursday: Dad goes out of the house. Mother takes him shopping, or for a walk at the mall, or drops him off at the senior center for cards or a movie. Thursdays mean out of the house…but the rule is he is well fed before he leaves. A sandwich is taken or a go out to lunch – is planned and a snack (just like you would if you take a toddler out) is tucked into your mother’s purse. Most important he is home by 3’ish…Sundowners will kick in around that time. Sundowners is a syndrome that means the energy in the body/brain dips low as the sun sets and the dementia patient is very prone to this. At home they need a sugar treat with a cuppa tea and quiet for the rest of the day.( This sundowners is experienced each and every day). Outings are done early and should only be 2 hours in length. This will allow the care giver to get out and your dad to get exercise and then be home to crash and nap.

Friday: Mother is once again there in the morning and the family plans to visit in the afternoon. Ask any relative or friend to come and visit on Friday and talk to your dad. This is a visit for him, so an old army buddy, business friend, faith based friend will do nicely. You can also ask a faith organization for a home visit for a male and they will put him on their list for every Friday. Just 20 minutes to 1 hour is needed to keep your dad’s mind up and interested in something new. Your mother is there, but out of the room, so your dad can say anything he likes without hurting her feelings. This is his time…and it then becomes your mother’s release and relax time also. You will call and check on your mom and plan for the weekend.

Saturday or Sunday: should be family day. If there are grand children or cousins, they can come and cut the grass, wash dishes, do windows, vacuum and help the grandparents with the house chores. 2 hours is all that is needed to pick up the house and have fun. They should bring over a dessert so Grandpa has some sugar for his brain and they have something fun to eat. Then it’s time for them to leave. Or if the day is planned to stay together they can make a family dinner and be quiet while Grandpa rests and then enjoy a big meal together. The kids can bring their computer games and such and just understand that it is a visit that is required of family because it is a part of life. This influx of energy with new people during the week is important…it raises the energy level of the home and your dad will be able to react off of others not just you and your mom each day.

The other day of the weekend is spent relaxing for both your mom and dad. Ready to hit Monday rolling along with your weekly plan all over again. This type of routine allows your mother time to rest and look forward to things each week. It allows you to plan your week and your own life and family routine and involves other family, friends, neighbors, faith based friends, or professional care sitters and givers to be involved and allow you and your mother to have a plan. This pre-plan may not go perfectly each week, but it is better than a daily fight of trying to cope with chaos instead of planning peace.

Your listing of weekly time, is yours to make —but making it and then planning appointments around the listing gives you both hope…

CHECK LIST:

  1. Dr. appointment – made and ready to go
  2. Notebook: writing a review for doctor to be given at check in so he can read it before the appointment
  3. Enter all medication listing so the doctor is ready to help your dad with new medications and print out copies for doctor appointments and a copy for your own handbag to have on hand
  4. Notebook: the weekly outline of what each of you is going to do every day for yourself and your dad. Asking others to help you, hiring a professional to be an in-home break for your mom and other activities that will help both your parents. This will keep your own mind clear and your emotions steady so you can deal with whatever comes out of your dad. His medications should do the trick of calming him down. And remember to call the doctor if the meds don’t make a difference. There are loads of different medication combinations (or cocktails) that can be done to enhance your father’s life as he declines in his Alzheimer’s

I send you blessings and know that the above is how I deal with my husband’s ever increasing anger and I have an appointment right now to review his decline. It’s a constant sadness for me to live with my husband’s Alzheimer’s…but sharing with others helps me cope.  francy

Please go to my website and sign up for my monthly newsletter so we can support each other  www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

5 Tips For Summer Senior Fun

Free Music Concert in Tacoma area park

by francy Dickinson    www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; Mom has a broken hip and now is unable to walk on her own, so we do not go out. I find the wheelchair is hard to get in and out of the car. So we seem to be stuck in the house. On hot days and with a full summer ahead, not to mention a hot fall – it does not leave much to be joyful about? Oh boy, we are going to go crazy with each other. I do work during the day and my son is still living at home, in high school…so mom spends lots of time alone. Got suggestions for relief?

5 Tips for Seniors in the Summer

  1. Get a walker, not a cane: when a person has issues with possible falls use a walker around the house and a wheelchair outside the home. Sit down and have a face to face with the facts of life for you all. When there is any big problem in the house; all three of you must be in on the discussion. Then go to the medical supply and try the different wheelchairs and take them out to your car and see if you can lift them in and out. Let the people at the supply store help you find a good fit. There are a variety of chairs and with a doctor’s prescription your mother’s insurance and medicare should take care of it. If not, rent. You need that lady mobile- like it or not both of you need to make that wheelchair your friend.
  2. Look up freebies. Our local museum is giving a FREE entry with an AARP membership once a month. The two small communities around us are doing FREE concerts in the park, once a week. Our local zoo has a Senior Day each month and the local ball park has family packages for tickets with drinks and hotdogs for $20 ea. The ball park has a special section for wheelchairs with great views. There is so much that can be done for very little investment in anything but your time.
  3. FREEbies and Coupons. Nationwide chains are giving two for one coupons a lot this summer. Your different local restaurants will have them too. Go online and look up some of your favorite spots and find the deals. There is a free pie at Sharie’s, there was a Free Slurpee at 7-11 on July 11th, there is a FREE ice cream cone at Costco some time in August and these events just mean you have a simple goal. Go out get a treat, walk around, come home…simple but fun for all.
  4. Invite others in to your home. Summer is an easy time to have a BBQ for family and friends. You can have the various grand children or cousins over for watermelon or an ice cream social. You can have a plant exchange with friends or neighbors. You can have sandwiches and ice tea for church friends, or your siblings over for a smores party. you can also meet at a park with friends and family and have a potluck with games for the kids, or a joint game for family. Thinking young and entertaining young often works just right for a senior, too.
  5. Senior Centers are a great place for the senior to play cards, do crochet, take a class and best of all? Travel. Many senior centers will have special price day trips that will take the senior, in their wheel chair, to local sites on a van or bus. It’s a fun time for the senior and often a good friend, the destinations are around your state that take an hour or two to drive to and from and many times the senior has not seen the area for a good deal of time. I also like to check for openings. Mom and I went to two different new library openings and we went to a large box store opening. We got freebies and had a fun time with the celebration of the opening and mother felt good she was at the beginning of a new place. Be sure to check with your city online website and see if they have disability tours of the city and special senior events. These are often well planned and enjoyable for the senior. Don’t forget a good movie can be a cool resting place and fun treat – senior prices and online coupons will make the movie easier on your budget too. We have friends that have free outside movies once a week in their residential village…all are welcome.

If the senior is well – doing two outings a week is reasonable. One, may be for fun and the other, for doctor or shopping. Planning ahead and putting the date on a wall calendar and talking about the event is great. It builds up the importance of it like a regular holiday. My husband does not want to miss a free concert in the park. My mother did not want to miss the spring trip to the tulip and daffodil fields. These small outings bring easy enjoyment and the cost and the time involved is quite small.

 Make sure you talk about things that might be keeping the senior from wanting to be out. Bladder problems, pain, confusion any fear can be addressed and figured out if you talk them through. Its the shy quality of senior’s to talk about their personal problems that will hold you back. Once again, be a family talk openly about issues that matter to each of you. Dont let using a “Depends” be an issue to keep your mother in the house instead of at the park with friends.

I remember being in my early 20’s and taking my own Grandmother around town for things. I did not mind at all, as a matter of fact we had fun doing different things together. It seems the age difference goes away when you’re enjoying an event. Since these events were just a ride of less than an hour or two for the most part, the event can be done and still do things for the rest of the family. I know you will think of things far more fun than I have but its the planning and getting out the door – that’s the important part. Days will fade together and summer will be over if you go day to day…make all of life have meaning with small adventures of pleasure.

Dont worry about dressing fancy, having lots of money in your pocket or spending cash on souvenirs. Those things are not required for having fun in the sun around your home area. Hope you enjoy…francy

Francy with Missy  Come and enjoy more info at www.SeniorCareWithSpirit.com

 PS: 

 DONATE: I spend time-sharing with hundreds of families all over the US so they can cope with caring for their senior. I’m at home with my husband, George, on a full-time basis and I always appreciate a donation for my time-sharing with you on this site. I thank you for your kindness…and ask that you share my site information with those that you know are caring for seniors — francy 
 
 Join my Newsletter Listing: I just got the July issue out the door…I send out a newsletter and talk about the behind the scenes of daily care giving with George and clients. You’ll also hear about Missy and my crazy, busy life with joy – in the middle of chaos. Its a more personal look at Alzheimer’s. When you click and go to my home page it will take you through the sign up with your name, city and email and I will send you a small thank you gift Free…for your time. I will hold all your information private. You will receive a monthly newsletter and can remove your name any time from my listing. And once again I would appreciate you spreading the news about my work, there are  alot of care givers out there that could use someone to talk to and get ideas back. Thanks so much – francy