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dad diabetic and health frail mom has dementia

Hello I  help my parents with medical info, cooking meals, cleaning house, and just visiting. My dad does everything the Dr's say but my mom acknowledges it then doesn't want to  follow  the  Dr's advice .  She was a hard woman before the dementia  so it is hard to help her. I love both my parents but am at a loss when she gets it into her head to decide we need something while at the store when we don't or if she doesn't get what she wants she literally  will throw something  like a child's  tantrum. My father has her at night when the are ready for bed and on the weekends and he totally  keeps the peace by giving in all the time. I just don't know which of us is doing more harm to her, me by treating her like a child with simple explanation  and firm enforcement if needed or my dad by babing  her and giving in. I see this taking a toll on him and his health is fragile so I want to relieve some of his stress. Sorry  to  just  ramble on but here is my question . ....is her behavior typical  of a vascular dementia patient ? She will go along and be with you in the moment then when she doesn't get her way she acts out. Is this normal? Any ideas on how to handle? I have tried patiently  explaining, showing her the correct thing, even trying to redirect her attention but no go. I don't want to make it worse but I  feel she is more cognizant  of what she is doing and where she is then she let's on...I  could  be  wrong  and I  am  afraid  of doing  more  harm. Anyone  have  this  happen  to them?I  would  appreciate  any information  or  advice  that may help me. Thanks for listening

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@sw8447 wrote:

Hello I  help my parents with medical info, cooking meals, cleaning house, and just visiting. My dad does everything the Dr's say but my mom acknowledges it then doesn't want to  follow  the  Dr's advice .  She was a hard woman before the dementia  so it is hard to help her. I love both my parents but am at a loss when she gets it into her head to decide we need something while at the store when we don't or if she doesn't get what she wants she literally  will throw something  like a child's  tantrum. My father has her at night when the are ready for bed and on the weekends and he totally  keeps the peace by giving in all the time. I just don't know which of us is doing more harm to her, me by treating her like a child with simple explanation  and firm enforcement if needed or my dad by babing  her and giving in. I see this taking a toll on him and his health is fragile so I want to relieve some of his stress. Sorry  to  just  ramble on but here is my question . ....is her behavior typical  of a vascular dementia patient ? She will go along and be with you in the moment then when she doesn't get her way she acts out. Is this normal? Any ideas on how to handle? I have tried patiently  explaining, showing her the correct thing, even trying to redirect her attention but no go. I don't want to make it worse but I  feel she is more cognizant  of what she is doing and where she is then she let's on...I  could  be  wrong  and I  am  afraid  of doing  more  harm. Anyone  have  this  happen  to them?I  would  appreciate  any information  or  advice  that may help me. Thanks for listening


Hey there,

Margaret gave you GREAT advice. Although i think i'd give your father slightly different advice. Whether or not she was bossy and difficult before dementia, she is difficult now, and i would choose your battles with her at this point. The world has become an uncooperative, probably scary place to your mom, who is used to imposing her will upon the world (an illusion for us all, but still.) And now her brain is working overtime and STILL not succeeding to make sense of it. All very upsetting. 

 

As Margaret pointed out, you are a loving support to both your parents. Do you think you can talk to your father privately? Maybe when she's napping. Or by email... I'm thinking it's time to hire some help in the home. He'll say he can't afford. She won't like the person. But... it's time. For 80 bucks a week more or less, for 4 hours, she can have a companion, get a meal, and maybe eventually get a lovely bath with a shampoo and hair combed. And your father can go to see a friend, go the VFW hall... whatever, wherever. Get a break.

 

If you want to help them and find out what's free (including free advice), type in your folks' zip code into www.eldercare.gov and go meet with the social worker. You'll find out about meals on wheels, transportation options (for them both), which are the best agencies to hire from, and what else she may be eligible for. At some point, especially given his health, the family might want to look into a dementia care facility for her, that he could visit frequently. and if he swears never to place her in any kind of facility, then he needs to hire help in the home. Otherwise he will get sick himself (or sicker.)

 

So we've made some suggestions. Please write back and tell us what you think. there are many in this community who have wisdom to share with you. What do you think is the next right step?

 

Thanks for sharing your story with us. We all grow by sharing.

 

Jane

Regular Contributor

Hi SW,

 

This is such a difficult situation. 

Not knowing what your mother was like prior to the onset of her illness makes it hard to know what is happening.

But here is my advice after 20+ years as a nurse and 5 years  of beingmy mother's primary caregiver:

Do not sweat the small stuff.

Unless the disagreement is over  something safety related or she will drain the bank account by ordering jewels online, I say let he have her way.

Arguing or emphatic reasoning with someone with any sort of dementia is too often futile and always exhausting.

 

I know it is obvious, but she is not a child that you are raising. It may help just to accept that this is who she is now and you are there to help facilitate things in their lives as best you can. It is not necessarily appropriate to force our will on our elderly parents even when we are sure we are correct. 

 

I encourage you to find support groups for people dealing with loved ones with dementia, either in person (although  I am sure your free time is limited!) or on-line support groups.

 

You are wonderful to help your parents. Release yourself from the stress of correcting behavior and see yourself as a person who is there to support them whatever they may want. Also, release yourself from the worry "am I doing this right?" ther is no one way to do this, try to be kind to yourself and you parents and you willnot have regrets. Once my mother reached a certain age we told her no one could say no to her (this was in jest, but we wanted her to know that she was still in charge of her life). So, if she wanted a manhattan and  a piece of cake for dinner 3 nights running-that was ok with us!

 

Goog luck!

Margaret

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