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How to respond?

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Old 01-10-2007, 03:25 AM   #1
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Unhappy How to respond?

Hi everyone, I joined this forum last November and really appreciated the replies to my intial message, and I have been keeping an eye on the other threads along the way.

A quick re-cap, I'm in the UK and my Father aged 86 I think is in stage 6. He lives a couple of hours drive away from myself (his only son) married to my Stepmother for 23 years.

Since my last message there has been some increased involvement from the health authority although the drug Aricept? is apparently too costly for prescription.... I say apparently because to-date my stepmother has been to point of contact with the authorities, and she provides me with updates...

My contact with Dad is mainly by phone, we (myself, Wife & 2 sons) visted for a day between Christmas and the New Year and try to phone him daily.

My mother died in 1977, and in Nov/Dec Dad has been convinced that either she has just died with an impending funeral to arrange, or that he has just seen her off in a taxi/train etc.

My Stepmother had been demoted to a "family friend" status, and the most recent development is that he is worried about my mother returning and jumping to the wrong conclusion!

I found it much easier to communicate with hime face to face at Christmas, and able to aviod confrontations during conversation, but it's the phone calls that I'm useless with. He called me three times yesterday asking where my real mother was and right or wrong I'd carefully explain that she died 30 years ago and that he re-married in 1983 to my Stepmother. This was accepted but last night he called three more times up to and after midnight asking for the funeral details that I'd apparently given to him at a family party that of course never occured.

He was also concerned about the "woman" staying at his house (my stepmother) as recognised that he was married and that the person in his house was someone else....

My immediate problem is how to manage these calls, I could hear in his voice the frustration increasing, and I did not know what to say. I received two more calls early this morning before leaving for work, the last he became angry before hanging up on me. I must be making things worse...

I did manage to speak with my stepmother last evening, who sounded at the end of her tether... she has phoned the health visitor with a plea for help and is due a visit today, and I'll get an update tonight. I'm also wondering if should I be communicating directly with these people but do not want to undermine my stepmother...

I'm now feeling innadequate myself, and very guilty that I am not doing enough for the both of them.

Your thoughts/advice appreciated



Last edited by Andy5; 01-11-2007 at 12:44 AM.

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Old 01-10-2007, 06:50 AM   #2
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Re: How to respond?

Andy, as hard as it might be for all of you to accept, it might be time for your father to go to a nursing home. This disease can cause your dad to become angrier then you have ever seen him as well as have him saying things that you know are not his normal words. Just remember it isn't him, it's the desease. We write things down for my Grandmother. For instance she recently broke her wrist. Rather then answering her every time she would ask why she had the cast on and repeatedly telling us she didn't hurt herself -we wrote it down on a paper and directed her to it each time. Perhaps show him pictures of his marriage to your step-mother. Make him an picture album of you and your family writing out beside the pictures in detail who each person is. Example - a picture of your wife - This is Andy's wife "Jane." I am so sorry your family is going through this. It is a sad disease. I would suggest you all try to find a caregivers support group. I'll say a prayer for you all. God be with you.

Last edited by Clencher; 01-10-2007 at 06:53 AM.

Old 01-10-2007, 07:34 AM   #3
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Re: How to respond?

I agree with Clencher - he would be better off and happier in a nursing home, and they would not allow him to call you several times a day and disrupt your life. My Mom has a one way phone. WE can call her, she can't call out unless she asks a nurse who will bring her a NH phone (local only).

I went through it all with my Mom as her live in caregiver for 5 years. I had been with her for 3 years when she began to forget who I was. She started waking me up in the night asking in a loud and agitated voice , "who are you, and what are you doing in my house?" A couple of times I was unable to convince her I was her daughter. I now realize that in her mind it was 20 or 30 years ago and I could not have been that old.

More recenly she began asking me about her brothers, her sisters in law. Where are they, why don't I ever hear from them? (they all died many years ago.)

Then she saw herself in a mirror and told us all a strange tale about a 102 year old woman she had seen and spoken to. In her mind that reflection had to be someone else, because she is nowhere near that old. She was 96 at that time and is now 98.

Not only are they confused and forget the rational explanations we give them all day long, they also make other very foolish and potentially dangerous decisions - gong out in the night inadequately dressed, starting to cook and going away, allowing the food to burn, throwing or giving away valuable things, writing checks to beggars or handing cash to strangers.

Mom also forgot how to use toilet paper, how to wash herself, what clothes were hers and what was mine (I am 5'8" and she is 5'1" so you can imagine her ludicrous appearance in pants 8 inches too long, and swimming in a huge shirt (I am size 16, she is size 12).

On the phone she told tall tales to family members who often believed her because she sounded so logical. She made up trips she had taken and people she has seen and food she had eaten (standing nearby, I knew it was all false) .. and accused me of keeping her a prisoner because I didn't like her to go out alone after she got lost at least 5 times ....

In a Nursing Home your Dad will have proper care, be safe, be warm and fed, not able to do anything dangerous, not a threat to others or himself. I think by stage 5 or 6 it is high time for in-patient care ... at least in my experience...

Good luck with it.



Old 01-10-2007, 05:05 PM   #4
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Re: How to respond?

I agree with the others. A nursing home is probably the best and safest thing to do for your dad right now.

Your stepmother must be one wonderful woman. My heart goes out to both of you.

It amazes me that your father is that bad off and can still remember your phone number. My dad still remembers my mom's death but nothing about the funeral. He still remembers everyone as far as we can tell. Yet he doesn't know what a ringing phone means or how to dial out.

You can ask to be included on the details. You can offer as much help as you wish but it is difficult from a distance, I know. My dad used to live with me but is now a 12 hour drive from me.

You have your life where you are. By taking these phone calls, you are doing something. Please try not to feel guilty because you can't do it all. None of us can. Not even your stepmother. If you wish to do something more and you are able to, try to take a couple of days to go to your father's house and offer your stepmother some time for herself. It would mean the world to her. And maybe you could spend some time alone with your father.

Wedding photos by his bed, on the refrigerator, on tables all around the house might ease the questions about the "family friend" just a bit. Another idea is to make a fake wallet sized obituary of your mother's death with a notice of burial as if it had already happened before the obituary was printed. Then your father could be gently directed to that when he asks about your mom. I don't know if this would help but it's just a thought.

A word of advice: Stop trying to explain all of this to your dad. Listen to his concerns and fears. Console him. Tell him you'll check into whatever is bothering him at the moment. Change the subject to something pleasant. The more you try to explain, the more confused and upset he will be. This is a perfect example that honesty is not always the best policy. It's ok to tell those little white lies, the ones that will save grief for all concerned.

Good luck!

Live, Love, Laugh.

Old 01-11-2007, 12:54 AM   #5
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Re: How to respond?

Thanks for all your thoughts and best wishes...

My stepmother called an emergency help line two nights ago, and yesterday I spoke with the coordinating nurse before and after she vistited Dad. We are advised that there are three options:
1. Dad complies with his medication requirements and this should help calm him (apparently he has been refusing his tablets etc.)
2. Dad willingly takes a break at a respite home to enable my stepmother to have a break
3. His phycologist assesses and enforces hospitalisation for further assessement

My stepmother and I spoke last evening, she has had some success with the medication and he was much calmer yesterday. The nurse had suggested a short break away to Dad so that stepmum could have a rest - he flatly refused as I expected. Stepmum is expecting a visit this morning from the doctor but is against compulsary hospitalisation as am I.

I'm going to see the Nurse next week at her request, she believes that Dad's condition is progressing quickly and we may pass through this difficult stage soon anyway. I will be exploring nursing home options over the coming weeks...

Thanks everyone and God bless


Old 01-11-2007, 07:10 AM   #6
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Re: How to respond?

A friend's father had Alzheimers. When he got to the point where he no longer knew his own wife he also became violent. Despite being in his 80s he was a big man. The kids begged Mom to put him in a nursing home but she insisted that she would care for him because he had always taken care of her. Well, the violence finnally convinced her and she had him committed. She was much happier, she went to visit him every day. She made sure he was bathed, shaved and fed. But at the end of the day she could do all things she couldn't when he was home because she had to constantly watch him, like clean house and shop. Tell your Step Mom that even in a home she can visit and make sure he is well taken care of. She can visit all day with the knowlwdge that if he becomes agitated there are people who can restrain him and protect her. And she can go home at night and sleep soundly, which is good for her health. If she ruins her health trying to care for him she actually hurts him because if anything happens to her who will make sure he is cared for properly? She can check up on the treatment he gets in a NH ONLY if she alive and well enough to go there.

My friend's father eventually passed on and his Mom is doing great at almost 90. My friend might have lost both parents if she insisted on keeping him home until the end because she would have been worn out and done in by the stress and strain.

Old 01-11-2007, 01:12 PM   #7
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Re: How to respond?

Excellent advice - I hope many people will get moving and do what has to be done!



Old 01-17-2007, 10:48 PM   #8
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Re: How to respond?

It is a definite sign of progression with AH when he cannot remember being married. Although I labeled pictures in frames, and my mama died ( her only child) she no longer spoke of her and regressed in her mind to what I think was around 10 or 11. She asked for her grandmother and mother repeatedly as well as her brother and sister. She did not understand the people that came to see her. As she began the mental age regression I would find objects for that age to soothe her. Her favorite was a soft cotton baby doll that she would hold and rub. Perhaps when you place your father and get an idea of where he might be mentally in age, get things that would be familiar or comforting to him. Just a thought. I know this is hard, hang in there you are not alone. Also, he may be agitated b/c no matter how you try to make him see that his life is here and now, he has gone back to a different time in his life and cannot grasp the reality of time.
Mim Gregg

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