What you have expressed about your emotions and frustrations about taking care of your Mother who suffers from dementia, I've heard so many times before.
This was written in response to -- Alzheimer's Caregiver Lament -- I Can't Get a Second to Myself.
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By Jennifer Scott
Alzheimer's Reading Room
One of the common behaviors associated with someone who is diagnosed with Alzheimer's is to develop what is called "shadowing" behavior.
- Everywhere the caregiver goes the person follows. It becomes difficult for the caregiver to even get a few free minutes to take a shower or drink a cup of coffee.
- The caregiver becomes an "environmental cue with legs" and if they are gone from site for any length of time all of a sudden the person with Alzheimer's looses their sense of safety.
- I have few suggestions. Bob's idea of rearranging the furniture is a great one and should be tried.
- I also suggest compiling "busy boxes" with items that you can access quickly and easily. You can give the items to your Mother just before doing your chores or whatever the case maybe and the items might hold her attention for a short period of time so she doesn't miss you or look for you quite as quickly.
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Try to amass items that used to interest you mother. There is a great magazine called REMINISCE that has articles from yesteryear and it is written for people who have memory loss. This magazine might hold her interest for quite a while, it is filled with pictures and stories from the years gone bye.
- I also suggest, if you belong to a church or other organization asking for volunteers or friends who can commit to coming by for a "visit" at set times a couple of times per week.
- As for you mother not acknowledging the fact that she has Alzheimer's or acknowledging the fact that she needs help; this is also extremely common and can be frustrating for the caregiver.
The true definition of "agnostic" is "to not know". So the "anosognosia effect" on the person is that it causes the person to think and really believe that they are functioning completely normal without any problems what-so-ever.
- They think they can still live by themselves, drive their cars, they don't take any medicines because they are healthy, and they certainly don't believe they need help.
It takes two people to argue and the caregiver has the ability to not argue where the person who has Alzheimer's will not have the same amount of self control.
- I have found it most helpful to say things like "you are right, you don't need help but I will feel better if I help you"; things like that but with as few words as possible. Too many words causes confusion.
Her ability to comprehend "negative words vs positive words" may be very diminished and Alzheimer's causes the person to lose the ability to have empathy in relation to others in the same way you and I can understand that our words and actions effect others either positively or negatively.
The negative behavior is generally not a purposeful behavior but for some folks it is a long term habit of negative thinking.
Where they used to have the internal filters and control to not say the first thing on their mind they now don't have those filters and you never know what might come out!
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Examples of this are people beginning to use curse words when they never have before in front of their loved ones and now they use very colorful language.
- Rapid changes in her mood, going from happy to sad to angry in a flash of eye can be very difficult to understand. It is called "labile" behavior and it is a loss of emotional control.
The labile behavior is not necessarily caused by anything in the environment it simply causes rapid mood swings. There are some medications that may help for mood stabilization.
I am not an advocate for use of medications unless absolutely necessary.
- It is not comfortable for the person who has Alzheimer's to go through their days angry, upset, anxious, or frightened.
I hope this information helps you and your mother along your journey.
Jennifer Scott has been in healthcare since 1984, working with a variety of people with disabilities. She has delivered numerous speaking and educational presentations about Alzheimer’s disease and how to care for those suffering with dementia.Original content the Alzheimer's Reading Room