coping with emotional changes

Caregiver for mother in law with dementia

DaugterInLaw Community Member January 01, 2009
  • My husband's mom got diagnosed with frontal lobe dementia at the age of 64. We took her car keys about four months ago and as of this month have all moved in together. It has been a real adjustment so far. I hope I can find others with insight and advice on how to make things work smoothly and what to do. Is there an early Dementia sub-group in here? She told me the only way they could tell if it is Alzheimer's is if they did an autopsy. What? She knows who we are for sure but has started wandering aimlessly; she will not stop humming. She just let to the store with my husband insisting she go and is often demanding then childlike and stubborn. I want to help bring some joy into her life and of course my husband's but do not know where to start or where the patience will come from.

    We are having troubles establishing boundaries and handling everything for her. I hope we can find some friends who can help us along the way.

5 Comments
  • Carol Bradley Bursack
    Health Guide
    Jan. 06, 2009

    Specialists now have many tools, including PET scans and psychiatric exams to determine if a patient has Alzheimer's. There are also drugs that can slow the progress. I'd suggest getting your mother-in-law in to see a geriatrician or a psychiatrist experienced in working with people with dementia. The earlier she is diagnosed, the sooner she'll get help in...

    RHMLucky777

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    Specialists now have many tools, including PET scans and psychiatric exams to determine if a patient has Alzheimer's. There are also drugs that can slow the progress. I'd suggest getting your mother-in-law in to see a geriatrician or a psychiatrist experienced in working with people with dementia. The earlier she is diagnosed, the sooner she'll get help in slowing the progress. The old idea that there was nothing to do until they died - well, it has died. There are things that can be done, and diagnosis is the first step.

     

    Good luck. This living arrangement will be a challenge, but if you get in touch with your local Alzheimer's Association, you can get education there. Please keep watching this site for more information and look over all the tools.

     

    Carol

  • jody
    Jan. 15, 2009

    My husband has been diagnosed with senile dementia.  He is 80, I am 71.  I think he is working on about a 12-year-old level, but I am blessed as he can still dress himself and functions fairly well.  I try to be patient with him, but it is very hard knowing that this man/child is not the man you married.  It is an adjustment and my heart...

    RHMLucky777

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    My husband has been diagnosed with senile dementia.  He is 80, I am 71.  I think he is working on about a 12-year-old level, but I am blessed as he can still dress himself and functions fairly well.  I try to be patient with him, but it is very hard knowing that this man/child is not the man you married.  It is an adjustment and my heart goes out to you and your husband.

    • DaugterInLaw
      Jan. 15, 2009

      Thank you for the kind words that is really nice. I can imagine how hard that is for you and my heart goes out to you as well. I am learning to not feel as guilty about being depressed about it and knowing it is normal to feel this way and am taking steps to get things done for her and trying not to yell when she asks me to take her somewhere (today to AARP...

      RHMLucky777

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      Thank you for the kind words that is really nice. I can imagine how hard that is for you and my heart goes out to you as well. I am learning to not feel as guilty about being depressed about it and knowing it is normal to feel this way and am taking steps to get things done for her and trying not to yell when she asks me to take her somewhere (today to AARP for free tax help) four times after my husband said no before he left for work. I can not handle everything and certainly not alone so we have to designate tasks better and determine what she can and can't do. No more check writing as we think she repeatedly sends checks to people and sometimes deposit slips not checks. People will take advantage for sure so this is really scary.
      I am trying to encourage her to paint because she was a career artist, a potter, clothing designer and painter. We just had dinner and I was playing Cat Power which she really liked and she seems to be really enjoying food. There are good days and bad I am sure days to come where there will be nothing for me to cry or pull my hair out about as we get more support and a handle on how to deal with things. I am counting on that happening for us. I need to fight despondency and depression as the lack of incentive carries a weight almost like I get sympathetic symptoms that she has.
      Thanks for all the great feedback and support. The Alzheimer's Association has been really helpful as well even though she has frontal temporal dementia. In early stage there are support groups for her so I am working to get her on the waiting lists and get her doing and involved. Keeping microwave and toaster skills are necessary if I am going to go to work as well. Day by day and with patience and empathy is the only way to make this livable and make this part of her life pleasant. She can still read me and I feel guilty for having coping problems. If I can make her smile once a day I think that is the best I can hope for. I am also re reading my Echart Tolle and recommend him for staying in and dealing with the present moment, whatever that brings.

    • jody
      Jan. 19, 2009

      I, too, deal with depression and dispondency.  I have taken over all the bill paying and did that several years ago.  I also do all the driving.  I was fortunate that Jeff very willingly turned these chores over to me, but they do add to my workload.  Fortunately, I have good help in the area of finances.  But it does get overwhelming...

      RHMLucky777

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      I, too, deal with depression and dispondency.  I have taken over all the bill paying and did that several years ago.  I also do all the driving.  I was fortunate that Jeff very willingly turned these chores over to me, but they do add to my workload.  Fortunately, I have good help in the area of finances.  But it does get overwhelming at times to realize I have to do everything!  I get very weary.  Apparently, I'm at a better stage of dementia than you with your mother-in-law, as Jeff still eats fairly well and has gained back a lot of the weight he lost when undergoing chemo (he also has lymphoma).  But, I just keep trying to learn patience (have pastor and friends praying for this!) and take one day at a time.  But it just "tain't easy" no matter how you handle it. 

       

      Please know you're in my thoughts and prayers.  This disease is vicious and saps the enegry of the most dedicated caregiver.  God bless  you!

  • Leah
    Health Guide
    Jan. 08, 2009

    Please get your mother in law to a doctor.  As Carol said in the previous comment, there are lots of medications which can slow down the process.  I take Aricept for my vascular dementia.  I live with my husband and am still driving.  I challenge my mind daily.  There are many differences in my life since this came on, though. ...

    RHMLucky777

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    Please get your mother in law to a doctor.  As Carol said in the previous comment, there are lots of medications which can slow down the process.  I take Aricept for my vascular dementia.  I live with my husband and am still driving.  I challenge my mind daily.  There are many differences in my life since this came on, though.  And, yes, there are many challenges.  Please read all you can about dementia; this website with its experts is a very good place to start.  If you want to read what it's like to actually have dementia, you can read my weekly blog...LEAH...where I openly tell what life is like.  I do wish you better times with your mother in law.  Just realize that she is not doing any of this willingly...find out all you can about it.  Best of luck.

    Leah