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

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I’m Helping Him but He’s Mad-Senior Anger

by francy Dickinson              www.seniorcarewithspirit.com

Dear Francy; My Dad is in his early sixties, he has been divorced and on his own for years. He is now going through a stage that he calls and needs me to do all sorts of things for him. I’m trying to be there for him, I go over when ever he calls, but I’m busy with my own family. When I do go over he’s angry with me. I am his only child and I sadly dread the visits, what can I do?

I understand and I am sorry about this it’s a way with older folks, many times men especially, will display anger when they have frustrations in their life. So, lets begin with his age of sixty plus, that is young he should live into his eighties or nineties, so think of him as a person that needs to be healed and treated, not just old. Get your ducks in a row with the Health Care Directive signed and in place with your name as his partner in health. That is important so you can work with him on his health issues in years to come. Then schedule a good review of his health with a doctor. Write a letter to the doctor and drop it off or send it ahead of his appointment so you can tell him this issue of sudden needs and anger. The doctor needs to know to address emotional issues that might not surface in the exam if he is not notified.

There is a great issue of depression in men on their own. Not that depression does not effect women but men are especially hit with it and they rarely have the ability to talk it through. If he is newly retired, that is often a problem. He looked forward to many projects and kept busy until they were all in place and suddenly, he is faced with years of retirement and no where to go. There is also a problem after a spouse has passed, a year or so later, the realization that life is ahead with loneliness and no reason to be happy- hits. All of these things happen to many people single or in a relationship, that is why we have them checked and go to a support group, senior center or stay active with family to keep their emotional health up. If there is an on going problem, they will need medication and or counseling to get them healthy again. So you have to be pushy about getting a doctor’s opinion. Write down a few of the episodes of anger, so the doctor can see what stemmed the anger and if it might be body or emotional based. Once you have that diagnoses then you can help him with the treatment and go forward.

Tips on dealing with anger;

  1. You are the pivot point to anger – as the caregiver it is you that can start or end an angry session. So arrive up-  in energy and remove your emotions and just do what is needed and leave. It is very hard to do this, because you will think that the person hates you or you have done something wrong. But emotional anger has a base in the person not with you…so pivot that anger by being in charge of your own emotions.
  2. I deal with my husbands dementia all the time and I have learned to refocus him into a different project, idea, talking point or action. This will remove his frustration of the moment and get him thinking in a different direction. It takes practice, but I have learned how to avoid a lot of arguments by keeping him off a subject and onto another. I do this by interrupting a conversation and interject a whole new thought pattern.
    Example:George was up in arms about trimming our trees, had spent hours getting saws out in his work space and trying to do this task. I went out and told him my back was bothering me – could he come and help me move something in my office? He followed me into the house and the anger and frustration of his project was over the pattern broken. After he helps me, I praise him and get him a piece of pie and he then releases his day long project and returns to his TV or reading and the anger and frustration is over.
  3. If your dad has had a history of being involved in faith center or events, or if he has long ago given up a hobby –this is the time to reintroduce him to those events. Doing something he knows is easier for a senior than starting something new.
  4. Interaction with others. No one can be on their own for days at a time and stay happy. Little things start to become big things and small problems become a big mess. So, break this pattern by making sure he is doing a few weekly outings. Senior centers have card days or bowling teams, or any hobby he likes. Local libraries need volunteers as do teen centers and soup kitchens. Senior Universities are all over the place with weekly classes and lectures on fun subjects. These classes are just an evening or afternoon of information and it becomes an enjoyable routine. Your own family has weekly outings he could join, sports events, teen pick up from classes and school, school performances, bi monthly family picnics or dinners. There are ways for him to move into the world again and keep him with a weekly calendar of events that will fill his mind and spirit.
  5. Exercise is a great way to bring a senior back into good health. Joining you for a walk twice a week, or getting him into a senior bike program or golf game can improve his mind and his outlook.
  6. Talking to a support group or hobby group is great for a man’s interaction. You will find that Twitter and online support groups also provide a non evasive way to express feelings and interests. Woman usually have women to talk to, but if not, they too need to be attached to a group that will help them express their feelings among friends that understand.
  7. Eating well, can be a huge thing for men or women living alone. Days of empty food and no supplements can make a big difference in any ones life. So adding food from you or a service could be a big boost. He may have a neighbor that’s a senior and would be willing to provide 2-3 dinners a week, for a small charge. You then know that good food is on his plate and helping him feel well. Being creative with care is never easy, but it can make a big difference in his lifestyle and emotional wellbeing.
  8. Moving; many seniors try to keep their home forever. Nice if they can do it, but over burdened with yard, house, money or repairs is not a pretty picture for anyone. So, if he needs to relax and get yard or house cleaning help get that done. If he is not able to really do the work, then suggest a few visits to local townhouses where yard work is provided or retirement communities where everything is at hand for easy living. Moving early means a life of comfort in retirement, not worry over a huge move sometime in the future, usually when the senior is unwell. Keep them close to you, but find a place to tuck them in with a smile. The retirment communities are so diverse now, that you can find all price ranges in your search.
  9. Get him a pet to protect and care for at the local humane society. Often a furry pal will totally change a person. Instead of having a day ahead with nothing to do, you suddenly have to feed and walk the dog or change the cat box. It’s just this small chore, that keeps a senior busy and thinking of something other than their own problems.   
  10. Ask him to help you – what do you have around your home to fix or do? Men love to be of service, figure out different chores and ask him to come over and do them and then give him a good dinner and movie to share. Example: I would ask my mother to come over and make pie crusts. Then we would freeze them. She loved to make pie crusts, mine have always been horrid, so it was a nice way for her to do for me and I would get her talking and give her a nice day and dinner. Now that she is gone, I buy the frozen crusts which do not come close to the ones she made for me as well as miss our times together.
  11. Do not be a child, sit down and talk about anger issues. Tell him you are here to love him and have a nice visit to help him, but this anger is out of bounds. If there is something that bothers him about you, get it out and see if you can talk it through and leave the issue behind. Let him know, you will not be abused with words, they are hurtful and you do not want to have them in your life. Do not involve yourself with anger, this is a grown up talk between two adults, not a shouting match. But, remember, this conversation only works if he is not drinking, or in a depression or any altered state, those situations change the playing field and are why you need to have him checked out medically so you know what is what from the get go.
  12. Interaction during your day. Call him and ask if he is watching a news alert, or if he is going to watch a special program that night. Make things to talk about so you have more of a give and take talk during your week. Get your teen to teach him how to text message to them even if he does it on the computer. Set up a Twitter or Facebook account and get him used to it so he can enjoy it. This stuff is a perfect thing to do with grandchildren. Add an MP3 player with his favorite music and downloaded books from the library, a new digital camera or video for the kid’s sports events. Those are things that grandchildren will enjoy doing for him and give a boost to connections within the family.
  13. Don’t forget the geneology part of life, it can be very involved and fun to learn about heritage. To express an interest in wanting your kids to know about their past family history and ask if the family pictures could be organized for them. This is a project that can involve your dad, you,your kids and many other groups that do geneolgy in person or on the Internet.
  14. Know that as people age, the progress of health and mental health is not in stone. Dementia can set in early or late in life. Heart health can hit you in your thirties as well as in your sixties. Aches with arthitus can zap your energy and a simple addition of joint supplements can make a huge difference in pain control. So just take it step at a time, and read and learn because helping someone age means that you are helping yourself age well in the future.
  15. Reality is that most women are the organizers of events, food, doctor appointments and family for men. That is how our society works. So, if your dad does not have a gal in his life…you are the it girl. So, try to just let this sink in and add him to your list of boys to care for in your life…once you get this in place in your own mind, you can move your dad into a lifestyle that is good for him and for you. I know there are exceptions to this rule, but I have found very few in my care giving years.

I know that your creative mind will come up with other ideas. Once you get your mind in a direction to solve problems it becomes so much easier. Just remember anger does not mean they do not love and appreicate you. Seniors just have troublem expressing their feelings and dealing with their body changes. So be a sleuth and find out what is at the base of the anger, not what is on top of it.

Please do go to my website at www.seniorcarewithspirit.com for more ideas. I have a great e-book called Care Giving 101 Workbook that will help you with giving care in your own home or in the senior’s home. It has all the basic home nursing tips and gives you ideas to support yourself as well as your spouse or loved one. These books are very popular with care givers and I encourage you to buy one so you can feel more in power of your situation as the care giver. It can be very lonely out there all alone when you are giving care – I want to make the experience more comforting for you.

I write these blogs to share information that I have gathered in my many years of care giving. I am now tending to my husband with Alzheimer’s and my books and services are how I’m able to stay at home and care for him. Thanks for all you are doing for your own loved one, blessings. francy

PS I am on Twitter @seniorcaretips and I would love to have you listen to my talk radio show on senior care issues just click the radio button on my home page. The show is on demand so you can listen whenever you have time.