Taking away the car keys and moving your elderly parent are the two situations adult children dread. No one really wants to take away mom or dad’s independence. We would like to believe that somehow things may return to normal. Furthermore, we really want Mom to be able to stay in her own home. With dementia it can become tricky.
Dementia Does Not follow a Straight Line Progression
The real challenge with this disease is that it can appear to be here today and gone tomorrow. In other words, Mom will be terribly confused and may have strange behaviors one day while the next day she is acting perfectly normal.
You May Second Guess Yourself
It is no surprise that adult children waiver back and forth about whether placement is the best thing. How can we place Mom when she is acting perfectly normal today? You may even wonder if you were just imagining her behavior yesterday. The truth is you want Mom to be okay and you hold on to those good days.
Furthermore, if siblings are involved the situation can get really sticky and confusing. An out of town sibling may only talk to mom on the phone and rarely visit. People with dementia will try to hide their problem. And they can be quite good at it too. Of course, this can be easy to do if the child is visiting for a short time.
Yikes! This can cause strained relationships between the siblings. One sibling thinks it is time to move mom and the other sees no problem at all. They may wonder why their sibling is trying to "put mom away?"
While, they may both want the best for mom but have very different views on what the best means.
So how do you know when it is time for a move?
There are some red flags you shouldn’t ignore. These 4 red flags may signal that the time to move mom has arrived.
Wandering and Getting Lost
This is probably the biggest Red Flag. We have all seen the Silver Alert Billboards around Houston. These are put up when a senior gets lost driving and the family alerts the authorities. But even someone who is no longer driving may wander away from home. They could get lost in the woods by their home or wander into a busy street. Not knowing how to get home they may wander their subdivision and pass out from exhaustion or dehydration.
Delusions and Visions
Sometimes an Alzheimer’s patient can become really confused. They may look in the mirror and see an old lady staring back at them. They do not know who the old lady is and may feel as if they are being stalked or watched. This can cause paranoia.
The mind can play a lot of tricks on someone with this disease. An Alzheimer patient may confuse afternoon shadows with real people. This can cause worry and anxiety.
Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Behavior
When anxiety starts happening most every day it can signal that it is time for a move. If you are trying to care for someone with these symptoms it can be overwhelming. Someone who has anxiety often shows signs of OCD
(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) also. They may ask the same question over and over again.
“Mom would forget that she just ate and would cry for more food constantly! I felt bad not giving it to her but she was gaining a lot of weight. The doctor said we needed tom limit her calories”
A Small Residential Memory Care Home has caregivers who are trained to be able to engage Mom. This can help lower her anxiety levels. They are trained in techniques to redirect a resident who if stuck on one thought.
When You Are Overwhelmed
This is probably one of the most overlooked signals. Yet it is so important!
You must realize this disease is not just about the person who has been diagnosed. When someone has dementia it affects the whole family! As such the situation should be looked at from a whole family perspective.
When you have been caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or some other kind of dementia you may become exhausted. This is a very challenging disease. One person cannot do this alone no matter how much you care or how hard you try. It really does take a village to care for someone with dementia.
You may have good intentions but that is not enough. The person you love can and will sense your frustration, exhaustion, and despair. This can cause more anxiety and depression. The cycle just continues. If you really want to help your loved one it is time to let go!
Become the daughter, the son or the spouse once again!
At Light Heart Memory Care we only care for residents with moderate to late stage Alzheimer’s Disease. We take over the day to day care so you can go back to being a daughter, son or spouse again.
Pat Mack has been helping families make the right decisions to care for someone they love since 1997. Email Her Today for more information.