Q: DEAR Regina, I help my dad take care of my mom who has early middle stage Alzheimers. I get so frustrated with the condescending comments my dad makes to her. He just doesn’t get it. If she has misplaced an item, sleeps in or washes the laundry poorly he treats her so rudely. I have come to accept that he is just this way and will not change and have started to ignore his comments. Fortunately my mom forgets when he says these things. I sometimes have to walk out the room to take a deep breath because I do not want to argue with my dad in front of her. I struggle more with dealing with my dad than I do with my mom. What can I do in this situation?
A: Spouses that do the caregiving usually have a hard time understanding the brain changes that are happening to their partner. Because the person doesn’t seem sick the logic that it is not their fault does not register to the caregiving spouse. This is where family training is needed and awareness. Some spouses can grasp what is happening and some cannot / will not. They do not understand that their own behaviour and reactions can be controlled where the one with Alzheimers cannot. Caregivers have to look in the mirror at their own actions and behaviours and evaluate them while caring for someone with dementia and this is challenging for them.
I am sure your dad knows she has trouble but thinks she can control it. If you can encourage him to have a family meeting and have a professional come out and give you a home class on what is happening to your mom, your dad will have a different perspective toward her . The change will not happen overnight but it will help him check himself better and rephrase his words or his own frustration. He needs support as well.
For you: Yes, take as many deep breaths as you can so you can focus on your mom. Your consideration to not argue with your dad in front of her is honourable and best. She may forget what he says but she will not like how it makes her feel and she may respond based on that. So you staying positive and being that light and ray of sunshine will help her live well. Please do get support for yourself as well.
Q: Good Morning Regina, I am having trouble with my own memory. I think it is more than just a little. I live alone so there is no one around that I can blame. I do strange things. I look for things and can’t find them, and then later will find it in strange places. I don’t remember putting it in those places at all. I went to my doctor and he told me I was just getting older and work is stressing me. What do I do now?
A: It would be nice if more doctors take their patients more seriously on matters like this. What blood test did he take to validate that nothing else is going on? If you took any lab test I would go back to him and tell him he needs to do further investigation. If you do not want to go back, what we do in the US is get a second opinion and bring all the test results from the last doctor you saw and let the new one look over it. I would be persistent on this. Having memory changes is not normal. Finding out what is causing it early is prudent. Some or all these symptoms can be reversed if the cause is detected early enough and it is a reversible condition. Not all memory loss changes are Alzheimers related.
Dementia makes some people say the funniest things. Keep humour in your daily life. It helps reduce stress and increases coping skills. Laughing at something your loved one says or does is not mean. You are laughing at the situation and don’t be surprised that they may laugh with you. Share your laughter with us.
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