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    Old 10-03-2007, 03:12 PM   #1
    sunnydaze1
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    Forgetting to take medications...

    My mom has dementia symptoms for about five years now, and it seems to be getting worse.

    She lives alone, her older sister, my aunt (82 going on 60), lives next door so that's a help. I try to stop by several times a week to keep the house tidy, make sure she has all her meds, etc. Thank goodness I'm not working right now, I don't know how anyone does and still take care of an elderly parent. I have my own family to care for also, so I can't be with mom 24/7.

    Anyway, her blood pressure spiked last week at the doctors so he wants her to take 4 Cardizem/day instead of 3. That whole regiman has thrown her for a loop. I had typed up a daily med sheet she's been using for the past two years to check off throughout the day as she took them. She just cannot understand it. She takes a few other meds as well, and there's really nothing different than just taking this one extra pill. Now she doesn't remember if she's taking 4. I told her to write it down when she takes one. She forgot to do that today and doesn't remember if she took her noon pill.

    I've discussed Assisted Living with her and she gets very upset and teary eyed. Sad thing is that she says she even knows there is something not right with her and she can't understand herself why her brain doesn't work. I've been as gentle as I can with her about it. Her doctor really has no idea to the extent of how confused she gets. Monday is another appointment with him and I'm going to call and leave a message so he's aware of just how much she's having trouble with meds and cognitive thinking.

    Aricept just made my mom nauseaus so she stopped that; and frankly, I really don't want to see her on another pill.

    It's just so tough trying to talk to her about going into a facility, but as it is, I'm getting burned out. All I do is housework and laundry when I'm over and rarely have the mother-daughter chats anymore like we used to.

    Mom gets confused over the slightest thing that she has to think about...like turning up the volume on the TV...can't understand how it works after showing her at least 30 times how to do it. Doesn't understand if a light switch on the up position means it's on or off. Same with deadbolts...I could go on. She does wear a lifeline alert bracelet, and I think she knows enough to use it if she had to. She will not use the stove...it's new and she doesn't understand how it worked, so that's a good thing. Get Meals on Wheels everyday too.

    Some days she seems sharp, but for the most, she's declining. And her personal care has been neglected...like brushing teeth, washing hair; etc. Where did my pretty mom go?

    She most likely needs to be in an Assisted Living facility, but it is just so hard to tell her that it's time...at least I've brought it up to her so she's aware that it is getting to be too much for me to take care of her. I don't think she'd like anyone to come in, and even then, they probably only stay for several hours whereas she takes these pills at different times throughout the day.

    I'm just rambling here, but I guess I need to know I'm not jumping the gun if I really do convince her to go. How do you all cope with this. Worst part of her leaving her house is the fact that my dad built it by himself, it's a very treasured part of her life. Unfortunately, he died almost 30 years ago at a young age.

    So any advice would be helpful. Thanks in advance.

    Last edited by sunnydaze1; 10-03-2007 at 03:15 PM.

     
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    Old 10-03-2007, 03:48 PM   #2
    angel_bear
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    Re: Forgetting to take medications...

    Hello there and welcome to the group.

    I'm the one who advises with a sledgehammer, so I'm getting in early that if I say anything that offends you or upsets you, I don't mean it. I do not usually gloss over and sugar coat advise, because I have found it pointless. I'm honest (also known as foot in mouth diease sometimes LOL) and straightforward and try to say it 'like it is'.

    On that note, you say Mum has dementia and appears to be getting worse. The sad truth of the matter is that your pretty Mum is being taken over by an imposter and the glimpses you see of your real Mum will become few and far between.

    Yes, that's what this disease does, and at the least expected times. There is no set plan to this disease. You are now discovering that YOU have to be ahead of Mum. She can't help not knowing how to use the remote, she's LOSING skills and is now incapable of LEARNING new ones. Changes to routine throw them for a loop and can make the disease progress faster than expected.

    Another thing is Mum will (highly likely) NEVER be ready for assisted living. Very rarely does anybody want to GO there voluntarily. It means loss of independence, loss of control, and admitting something is wrong. As you said, Mum knows something's going wrong, she's got dementia, she's not stupid and she's fully aware of her world going topsy turvy. No longer can anybody expect her to be in our world, now you will find you will have to find ways to go into her world.

    Remember too that she only spends a very short time with the doctor, and so he probably won't have a clue as to Mum's progression in this disease. This is where you need to start a journal, documenting changes and events and how Mum copes or doesn't cope. You've got a good ally, a relative next door, although in time that will change as Mum's dementia worsens.

    Unfortunately, this disease is nothing but 'doom and gloom' and a lot depends on family interventions and a supportive medical health team. I advise you to get together with family members, the doctor and community nursing and see what else you can do NOW before an emergency happens. Mum will not get better, Mum WILL get worse.

    Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but forwarned is forearmed.

    Hugs

     
    Old 10-03-2007, 05:03 PM   #3
    Gabriel
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    Re: Forgetting to take medications...

    Thank you angel bear for saying all that you do in the way you do. I know you were a great help to me. As for me, when my mind was muddle I needed somebody to be straight forward with me.

    Sunny, welcome to the forum. There are some great people here with lots of patience and great advice. I was in exactly your same position except Dad has vascular dementia and Mom, who has Alzheimer, was his caregiver. Mom was smart enough to hide her inabilities for a couple of years before we realized that some of the disfunction belonged to Mom and was not all Dad's fault, as she told us it was. My sisters and I spent another year trying to keep Mom and Dad at home, in the house that Dad built over 50 years ago. We so hated to see them have to leave and neither of them were "ready" for assisted living. Some wise person on here wrote that the patient is never ready. You place them when the caregiver is ready. We would put pills in 7 day/4 slot a day pill boxs and they would not take them or Dad would get confused and take two days in the same day. Mom forgot to help him. I ask Mom to write things down and she told me she would write down the things she forgot. (I still have to chuckle on that one) We tried in home care and that left them at home alone at night. Mom hated the in home care. It became evident that Mom was forgetting more and more and she was supposedly Dad's caregiver. Three weeks ago, after Mom ran off the sitter in an UGLY string of events, we gave them no choice and moved them into assisted living. I have never felt such relief in my life. At least now I can sleep knowing they are safe!!! Mom is adjusting ok. Dad is having some difficulties but it is getting better. I forsee the day they will both be happy.

    Your mother has no ability to learn.... only to forget. It will not get better.... it will only get worse. A few suggestions. Please get a POA so you can handle your Mom's affairs. Since we moved Mom and Dad we have faxed that piece of paper dozens of times. Even the power company needed a POA to change their address since we have not sold the house yet. Please be vigilent about money. Are her bills being paid and are there scam men hovering around. My Mom spent enough at Walmart in the last year to furnish a small home. That was her outlet. The person you see in front of you is an imposter but your Mom needs your help to deal with the disease that is taking her over.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayer. I wish for you the energy and creativity to deal with this horrible disease. Also remember that venting is good. There are some break ears here that have been where you are and very good at listening.

    Love, Deb

     
    Old 10-03-2007, 05:15 PM   #4
    savv55
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    Re: Forgetting to take medications...

    Hello and welcome:

    It sounds like your Mom is fairly advanced in her symptoms. When they start to forget to take medications, can't remember to write things down to help them, forget how to use the remote, and are not taking personal care of themselves - it is definitely time to intervene.

    It is so hard to put them into care but it must be done. Don't do what we did and wait too long, until something happens that spins their life completely out of control. In the meantime, you could try blister packs for her medications - the pharmacy will do this. In order for this to work she needs to still know or be able to figure out what day of the week it is and take the meds on the right days and the right time of the day. We tried this but at that point my parents could not even follow that and there is no way to teach them as they cannot learn new things no matter how simple it seems to us.

    Those good days make you hopeful they can cope a little longer but don't be fooled, as Angel Bear says - it only gets worse. Plan now to move her to a care home. I feel very bad whenever I read others going through this. It is a feeling of despair that no one understands unless they have been through it. Thinking of you. Good luck. Shirley

     
    Old 10-03-2007, 05:17 PM   #5
    Martha H
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    Re: Forgetting to take medications...

    As AngelBear said, this disease only gets worse. My Mom is now in the absolute final stage, ready to die.

    I began taking care of her when I moved in with her in 2000. By 2005 it was clear that she could not even be left alone for a few hours a day, and the live in caregiver (me) was being sleep deprived by being awakened on and off all night while she sorted out kitchen drawers, went out of the apartment for a walk in her nightgown at 3 AM in New York City, etc. Once she woke me up demanding to know who I was and why I was in her house.

    We too were not happy with the idea of a nursing home, although we knew it was going to happen. To give me some relief, my brother agreed to let Mom move in with him and his wife. Two months later she fell (wandering around at night in the dark, having turned off all the night lights to save money) and broke her hip. Hospital - rehab - and by then it was clear to everyone that she was not thinking clearly, was refusing the rehab exercises, became wheelchair bound, incontinent, and now, slow death from being unable to digest any food. She is going to be 99 this month, if she makes it, which is unikely.

    The first 2 years in the NH she was content there. They are well organized and have a social program of concerts, outings and games. She met new people who she thought were her lifelong friends. Once she had been there for a month or two, always believing she would go home as soon as she was able to walk (which was not going to happen since she refused to even take a few steps a day to get her strength back), she forgot about home and thought she was at home. her room there is now her home.

    It was forced on her and us by the broken hip. But in your case I would get her into some kind of care BEFORE she has such an accident and is unable to walk again - also, a NH has a strict routine, no confusing changes, decisons are made for you so you are not threatened by making wrong choices, pills are given by a nurse at just the right time, you have nothing to remember or forget - so no stress - ... it was a good solution.

    By the way, we have no money ,so after a short while Mom got into Medicaid and they pay for the exact same care she got while paying her last dime out for care ...

    Good luck with it - nursing homes are NOT the terrible places of the past. It has the friendly atmosphere of a social club or family hotel.

    Love,

    Martha

     
    Old 10-03-2007, 06:12 PM   #6
    sunnydaze1
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    Re: Forgetting to take medications...

    Gosh, you all have earned your Angel Wings, that's for sure!

    To angel bear:

    You were in no way offensive at all...I so appreciate the honest truth. I needed to hear from someone else that these symptoms are not exaggerated in any fashion; that I'm not nitpicking on her and trying to find fault with things which she cannot control.

    As far as the doctor, you're right. He only spends about 10 minutes with her and she does seem fine. He has no idea how daily tasks are so confusing to her.

    To DGabriel10:

    You're idea about the pills sounds so logical...but as you said, my mom has lost the ability to learn and I know it would confuse her even more. My aunt does lose her patience with her sister (and she's the older one!) and I even worry about her health as well.

    I have had POA for several years now; have been taking care of all the banking; bills and finances for her, so at least that is not of concern.

    To savv55:

    My biggest fear is that she will fall or do something to hurt herself, and waiting too long to do something about this situation has been on my mind also. She had a hip replaced due to deterioration and from surgery through rehab, she was never the same mentally. I think just being gone from home for 5 weeks did something to her head.

    To Martha H:

    My thoughts are with you and your mom at this final stage. I do not have the room in my house for my mom; and I really don't think she'd be comfortable here anyway if it were possible. If she moved in with her sister, I think they'd drive each other crazy and I'd have two invalids on my hands. My mom is a very private person and likes her space and solitude. I only hope I can get her a private room in one of these places so she can feel somewhat at home eventually.

    Mom has the best policy for LT Care Insurance, so I'm not worried there; it's just making that big step to do it.

    There is a nursing home next door to me that is known to be the best here in this part of the state. That is where she did her rehab, but they don't offer assisted living there, but it's good to know it's so close and I'm just a house away if that is where she ends up.

    I thank you all for such kind; heartfelt advice and prayers. I needed to hear what I've been trying to deny.

    Last edited by sunnydaze1; 10-03-2007 at 06:13 PM.

     
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