My mom is in a NH and is in the late stage of dementia. She had a stroke in may 2012 and that sent her dementia into the last stage. She is 81.
Since the stroke she is in a wheelchair and uses the sit and stand lift to move to her bed. She now requires full care, and constant reminders to eat at meals or to be assisted. She can no longer make understandable conversations and seems quite content living in this silence. The NH provides great care and I have just purchased a reclining wheelchair for her daily full use to make her more comfortable. She has an alarm on her during bedtime to alert staff if she tries to get up. She is never left alone in her wheelchair because she doesn't remember that she might fall.
I belong to the Alzheimer's assoc her and they have told me that her new stage sounds more like stroke than Alzheimer's. This has me confused. All I have read and questioned tells me that this indeed Alzheimer's behavior. She gets scared easily watching tv, and unsuspecting movement or commotion. She has much difficulty with people's facial expressions and reads this wrong consistently which reflects in her face becoming sad, distorted or crying. It is very difficult to have any conversation with her, she doesn't speak, but she will be ome upset because of her misinterpreting.
It is soooo sad!!!! Not to mention how frightening it is when u realize that what u just said has upset her and you are left wondering what you did, how she interpreted and the guilt you feel for upsetting her even knowing it was truly unintentional.
Is this truly the disease of Alzheimer's? She has no memory recall at all anymore, as well.
It is so painful to see her like this....
I would welcome your replies. THANK YOU!
The following user gives a hug of support to keaner: ninamarc (09-29-2012)
Keaner... My best guess is that it is a combination of both conditions. It is not one or the other. Your Mom had dementia before and that has an affect on her brain. Then she had a stroke that also affected her brain. Both are basically brain damage. So the ability to determine exactly which one causes which symptom is difficult. The behaviors you described are controlled by a certain areas of the brain. In those areas there may be plaques and tangles from the Alzheimer's but there may also be stroke damage as well. Alzheimer's is a progressive disease that slowly damages the brain. A stroke is a catastrophic medical condition that quickly damages the brain.
You saw a progression of the disease before the stroke. This was Alzheimer's at work. Immediately after the stroke you saw another set of symptoms. This is the stroke effect on top of the past Dementia. Stroke effects usually stay stable unless there is further bleeding. Once the stroke effects have settled the further progression will probably be from the Alzheimer's. Yet separating the two is almost impossible from a symptomatic stand point.
So remember that both create brain damage. Don't concern yourself so much with what caused what. Instead find a way to enjoy the moments of joy that you have left with your Mom. Yes it is difficult when she doesn't understand you but you will learn what gives her pleasure. Know that she picks up on your emotional distress. That ability is part of the brain stem activity which is usually the last part of the brain affected by either condition. Instead of trying to talk to her... try singing. The ability to comprehend music and lyrics is different from the language centers and she may respond better. Put a smile on your face and leave your sadness at the door. Please do not internalize guilt for something that is a result of the disease that she has. If you can keep the negative out it will help her be more positive.
Most days I do this rather well but one day last week I was annoyed at the world. Yes, Mom's condition is sad but I found myself also frustrated with other situations as well. Mom's humor turned foul not long after I arrived. She matched my emotional moment. So I left her in the hands of the care givers and left. I worked on my negativity and went back the next day with a happy heart. Yes, she matched me smile for smile. I said many of the same things to her... but it was the non verbal language that was sinking me the day before. It was the sadness in my eyes, the worry furrow in my forehead, and the tension in my shoulders that let her know I was not happy.
Yes this is a sad disease that takes our loved ones from us one ability at a time. We want to fix it and we can't. It takes away hope and loads us with guilt if we let it. Give yourself time each day to process the negative of this disease and then try to put it aside. Spend the rest of your day looking for the moments of joy with your Mom and in your life.
Thanks sooo much for your reply!
I will take your advice and apply it to my visits. The singing is a great idea I will work on getting my iPod updated with music I know she enjoyed and together we will listen. Thank you!!!
I am doing the best I can and learning on the way.....so hearing from others right in the middle of this terrible disease is a true comfort. The support her is a lifesaver!!
Sherry, this is the ultimate on the job training! I have read stacks of books on the subject. They are helpful in their way but it is the people who are dealing with this disease that gives me the best information.... or doing it myself. Each situation is different and you have to take in everything you can learn, then sort it out and apply only what works for you. If you try something and it doesn't work, that is not a failure. You have just eliminated one method and go on to the next. You have to take into account the abilities and inabilities of your loved one.... as well as your abilities and inabilities. Just know it will all go better if you can maintain a positive state of mine!
Mom responds better to my voice than produced music. Lately I have plugged the ipod in my ears and sing along. One ear bud in one ear and the other listening to Mom Thursday, even though she can not speak, she continued to hum the tune after I stopped.... and that brought a huge smile to my face. So try different things. You will hit on something.
Probably it is both stroke and AD. My late FIL died with possible heart attack or stroke (just the doctor's educated guess because he didn't go to the hospital to check.)
However, my late FIL had severe stage of AD given that he could not walk/talk and could not feed himself. His hands were moving a lot while trying to feed himself.
I would say he was more of Alzheimer's and the heart attack/stroke was a blessing that he was able to go in peace in his sleep.
It is important now to give your Mom comfort care. It is not easy. You are in my prayers and thoughts.