"So why are you concerned about your mom?", I asked.
Susan began to tell me about how mom seemed really confused lately. She talked about finding her pearl necklace hidden under the cat litter and other strange things that were happening.
"She was diagnosed a few years ago", she went on to tell me. And until recently she was doing okay. My sisters and I live pretty close so we drop by pretty often.
"But, lately, things have been really strange." Susan said. " Mom is convinced that there is some strange old woman in her bedroom and bathroom. I try telling her that no one is there but she is convinced. So much so, she is sleeping on the sofa. She has also been soiling her clothes a lot and I think it is because she is avoiding going to the bathroom. How can I convince her that there is nobody in her home!
Susan was clearly frustrated with the situation.
What many people don't understand about Alzheimer's Disease is that it is not just about losing your short term memory. Alzheimer's can change the personality of someone turning that sweet little lady into an angry person who swears and spits. Many changes can happen to the person with this disease.
Yes the short term memory is affected!
As such the person with Alzheimer's will travel back in time to another period of their life. They may see and feel as if they are 20 or 30 years old again. In their mind they are. This can cause a lot of confusion and anxiety.
Imagine if you really thought and felt that you were a young woman and looked down at your hands and saw the hand of an old woman? You would think that something terrible had happened to you.
Now take it a step further
Walk into the bathroom and look in the mirror. There is some strange old lady there, right?? This is what was happening to Susan's mom and she was distressed to say the least. Wouldn't you be?
You cannot reason with Alzheimer's
I explained to Susan that it is impossible to reason with someone with Alzheimer's. They are rooted in another world and to try to drag them into your reality is simply not going to work. All it will accomplish is to make both of you frustrated and upset.
You have to enter their reality
It may be easiest to just remove the mirrors. You could also make up some kind of explanation about this old lady. Tell mom that she is just someone who is visiting and then redirect mom by getting her involved in another activity.
Mom should not be living alone at this stage
If mom is having this much confusion, living alone is not a good option. Mom could easily get scared and confused and may wander away. Safety guards need to be put into place and someone needs to be with her around the clock.
Small Assisted Living Residential Care is a good option. These smaller homes give mom the feeling of living at home not in an institution. Light Heart Memory Care has only 8 residents to each home creating a unique "family". Residents and caregivers eat together, socialize and enjoy the comforts of living at home.
Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.
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