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  1. #1

    How to approach talking with Mum

    My lovely Mum has Alzheimer's. At present, she is functioning reasonably well at home with the help of my Dad.
    She is currently visiting us for a long weekend, so Dad can have a break, and I am struck by how she has absolutely no memory whatsoever of any recent event/conversation. She has also forgotten all the hospital appointments she has attended over the last 2+ years, and all conversations with doctors/family about her Alzheimer's. She and I talked in depth for several hours last night, and I talked her gently through what was going on for her, as she had no idea. She was cross that "no one had told her (sic)" - I assured her that this wasn't the case, but we ended up on a revolving conversation for two hours, as she can't remember what I have just said.
    We have just been through the same conversation again for a couple of hours tonight - she said she had no idea that she had Alzheimer's and no recollection of our talk last night. She said she is glad that I am talking to her about her illness, but in light of her forgetfulness, I am not sure that I am doing the right thing. I feel totally exhausted and emotionally drained, and knowing that she will almost certainly have no idea about our conversation in the morning leaves me asking what the right thing to do is..
     

  2. #2
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    Hello Kate Welcome to TP
    I do hope your dad is enjoying his break and that you are not to frazzled

    Im am sorry to say that its often the short term memory that is affected first though some types of dementia do not affect memory till much later on

    for a long time, though my mums short term memory was short, say, a day (and im sorry to say it does get worse , minutes!) mum could remember things that happened when she was a child

    Im afraid it seems to me that no amount of explaining to you mum will make it stick in her memory, and can lead to upset , distress for you both, so I'd advise you to stop but if mum asks what wrong with me , say something like I did with my mum 'your memory has got bad but dont worry docs are trying to make it better'

    I'm going to put a link here in a mo to a thread on her called compassionate communication with the memory impaired, which I hope you will find helpful, but I must say its a really tall order to follow esp when your frayed around the edges

    http://forum.alzheimers.org.uk/showt...emory-Impaired
    Last edited by lin1; 26-03-2012 at 12:47 AM.
    Lin

    Daughter and former carer

    If only I could have Hindsight beforehand, oh what a difference it would make .

    Odd words,mis-spelling and punctuation are most likely due to my clever phone, it seems to have its own ideas about what I am trying to say, that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it lol
     

  3. #3

    Hello Kate

    I`m afraid it isn`t until you live with someone with Alzheimer`s you realise how debilitating loss of short term memory is.

    It is upsetting for people to be reminded they have been told the same facts time and time again, much better to let them believe it is the first time they have heard them.

    I believe the right thing to do is to live in the present.

    Sylvia

    Former Carer and Volunteer Moderator .

    I cried because I had no shoes until I met a man who had no feet

    About me
     

  4. #4
    I sometimes get the feeling with Alzheimers sufferers that their mind is in a whirl all the time trying to make sense of things, hence the constant questioning. The thing I have learnt is only give simple answers. For example if your mum says have I been to hospital, then say "yes", not "yes, you went to see Mr X because of your memory, and he has suggested you do this and take these drugs". Your mum will have lost you after the "yes".

    Sadly if your mum is like mine, she will just doesnt retain any information and has a total inability to learn. It may also be that out of her normal environment and without your Dad around she is significantly more confused. The questions may even have nothing to do with what she is confused about.

    I think you have to accept that your mum will not be able to remember what you are explaining to her. It is also equally likely that when she is back with your dad she will immediatey have forgotten that she stayed with you, but might keep asking "have you seen Kate recently".

    Lovely that you are able to give your Dad this break though
     

  5. #5
    From our experience of live in carers with mum who has no short term memory we agree with everything that mum says, knowing she will forget. We have stopped discussing the word alzheimers as she has NO REASONING ability. She can only understand things from the distant past, so that is what we talk about.

    If we talk about the future e.g. You have the doctors this Friday, all it does is stress her out. She has no comprehension of when Friday is, but obviously understands what a doctor is, so it worries her. Similarly, she has her hair done once a week at home and we remind her 1 hour before the appointment as anything earlier worries her.

    We find in general conversation talking about the past eg getting photos out is good.

    Hope this offers another insight for you.
    Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value" Albert Einstein
     

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kate Dinnin View Post
    My lovely Mum has Alzheimer's. At present, she is functioning reasonably well at home with the help of my Dad.
    She is currently visiting us for a long weekend, so Dad can have a break, and I am struck by how she has absolutely no memory whatsoever of any recent event/conversation. She has also forgotten all the hospital appointments she has attended over the last 2+ years, and all conversations with doctors/family about her Alzheimer's. She and I talked in depth for several hours last night, and I talked her gently through what was going on for her, as she had no idea. She was cross that "no one had told her (sic)" - I assured her that this wasn't the case, but we ended up on a revolving conversation for two hours, as she can't remember what I have just said.
    We have just been through the same conversation again for a couple of hours tonight - she said she had no idea that she had Alzheimer's and no recollection of our talk last night. She said she is glad that I am talking to her about her illness, but in light of her forgetfulness, I am not sure that I am doing the right thing. I feel totally exhausted and emotionally drained, and knowing that she will almost certainly have no idea about our conversation in the morning leaves me asking what the right thing to do is..
    I honestly wouldn't bother trying to explain anything - it's just not going to sink in. You have to develop a whole new line in 'conversation' with a dementia sufferer: keep it very simple, never argue (however frustrating that may be when they're convinced of something that's obviously fantasy).

    And if there's anything that's going to upset them or make them cross, pick one of your imaginative selection of white lies*, suitable for every occasion. Often these can be recycled endlessly, since the recipient won't remember that you've said it 3 times already this week. Fresh and new every time, as it were.

    Anything to keep them happy, that's my dementia motto - God knows it can be difficult enough anyway.

    *some of mine are frankly pretty black, but who cares, they work.
     

  7. #7
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    I think one of the hardest things is to realise you cannot have logical conversations with someone with Alzheimers.

    I still try and every time I go into the kitchen and say to myself When will you learn!!!

    It is a hard thing to do to tell white lies, or even black lies, and to agree with everything, but in the end it is the way for peace to reign.

    Jeannette
     

  8. #8
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    yes it is a vicous circle .... in a way we can never learn - we must try not to learn --- because otherwise we will be useless at looking after our partner/parent
     

  9. #9

    Thank You

    I am very grateful for the time everyone has taken to post replies, with useful insight and kindness. Thank you. I am sure Dad would find this useful too, so I will talk him through it when they return to us for a visit on 10 days. Thank you everyone.
     

  10. #10
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    Hi Kate and others

    I think I am almost at the same stage with my lovely Mum who also has ALZ, i have been discussing earlier this evening with my brother that my Dad needs a break as he seems quite stressed....although I'm not sure he or my mother would agree to giving Dad a break...but I thought we'd suggest it soon. Also I find the conversations quite difficult and whilst I'm trying to help Mum (and Dad) sometimes come away feeling I'm not helping at all. Also i worry Dad isn't listening to my Mum and isn't always doing things in her best interest. Scary.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kate Dinnin View Post
    I am very grateful for the time everyone has taken to post replies, with useful insight and kindness. Thank you. I am sure Dad would find this useful too, so I will talk him through it when they return to us for a visit on 10 days. Thank you everyone.
     

  11. #11
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    I find mum has been much easier to talk to now I have stopped trying to reason with her. I just agree with her most of the time.

    The only thing I couldn't agree was when she kept asking to go home (from the CH) and we went round and round in circles. She would say 'I want to go home' and I would say 'you need to stay her to be looked after'. She would say, 'You can look after me', I would say 'I can't I have to work and look after M (my son 5)'. She would say 'I will manage' etc. Or she would demand to be taken home and I would say 'I can't take you home, you need to stay here to be looked after and she would either go back to the above conversation or get cross and say 'well if you won't take me I will have to walk' (she can't walk) or 'just put me on the road' or 'the police will take me somewhere' and I would say 'yes but it might not be as nice as here'! We would do all this and then she would say 'aren't you going to get my things then?' 'Put my things in a bag then' and off we went again. Thankfully, she is now more settled and has stopped asking or expecting to go home at the moment. If she brings it up now, I just say 'you need to stay here for now, don't worry' and she will usually say 'oh you always say that - don't worry' and let it drop. Phew.

    When we chat, she can't remember what she had for lunch, who she has seen, what time of day it is. I try not to ask direct questions. If she tells me she has had something for lunch I say 'I bet that was nice' even if I know she hasn't had it.

    The other day she had been taken outside and the nurse said she didn't like it and they brought her in after a few minutes. I said 'the nurse tells me you have been out in the sunshine' and mum proceeded to tell me a tale about a lovely walk she had been on. Clearly she hadn't been to the places she said but she was quite happy to think she had so we talked about it as though it were real. It is real to her.

    I read once that with dementia peoples memories are like photographs and they get jumbled up and pop up in odd places. As peoples short term memories deteriorate, those photographs are not stored. Mum often mentions a pub which her aunt and uncle kept which was pulled down probably 50-60 or more years ago. She said it was a shame they might pull it down the other day and I agreed and told her about some new houses being built. We had a good natter about how things change.

    I also have standard 'safe' conversations which I repeat a lot usually around my son and what he is doing at school, where we have been etc. I also use similar excuses when I have to leave 'I have to pick up M' or 'I have to put M to bed'. These are usually accepted easily. Anything to do with him is 'safe'.

    I found this book a big help.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Contented-De...2887846&sr=8-1

    Jane x
     

  12. #12
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    Hello Kate

    I entirely agree with other posters that there is no point in repeating the same tale about how dementia has developed and whatever details might be relevant, but I found that my mum was "happy" with me saying "your brain is wearing out a bit, just like your joints", or "just as your legs give way now and again, so does your mind, that is why you need to be looked after". She was okay with that, cos she wasn't the most intelligent of people, and anything more complicated would have gone over her head even before she had dementia.

    She did once say to me "So, you are saying I am doo-lally are you?", perhaps reminiscent of the days when people with the slightest problem (including single mothers) were shunted off into the asylum. I had to be careful how I answered that. I think I said something like, "I don't think doo-lally is the right phrase mum, but you are sometimes quite confused about things". She accepted that, I think, because she did seem to have absolute faith in me to do my best for her, as my dad would have done. I feel quite proud that she felt like that. I DID do my best, but oh boy, it was a chore I could have done without!!!

    Hope anecdotes such as mine help you.

    Love

    Margaret
     

  13. #13
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    My father is exactly the same. We can sit and have a conversation along with my mum and he understands everything you say. The next day he has no recollection of the conversation and accuses us of lying to him.
    We have been advised not to give him advance notice of appointments/activities as it will stress and confuse him, the only problem with this is that he has never liked having things sprung on him. I am at a bit of a loss what to do. He has been accepted onto a 6 week programme of assessment, 2 days a week at a location he has already been to for alzheimers support. We talked about it on Sunday and again on Monday. Tuesday morning, 1 hour before he was being picked up, he announced that he wasn't going because it wasn't for him and it was all wrong and he just wasn't going. 5 hours later after we had been trying to encourage him to go for the last hour to see what it was like and he called us liars and said we hadn't told him about it at all and he would have gone like a shot if he'd known about it. Please can someone give me some advice on how to deal with this sort of situation because I am getting quite upset by it all. My mother is in her 70's and has had 2 previous heart attacks so I want to do everything I can to reduce her stress levels.
     

  14. #14
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    Hi Susy,

    Sorry to hear about your struggles getting your dad to assessment.

    Hubby and I decided to try and avoid a similar situation when FIL was due for his most recent memory clinic visit. FIL actually has a reasonable(ish!) memory but we are 100% sure that he knows he isn't good with dates or times although he will never admit to a problem. His coping strategy is to avoid such things if at all possible - and he will go to some lengths to get out of things! We knew (well strongly suspected really) that we would have a struggle.

    What we did was to arrange for the appointment letter to come to us in plenty of time and we didn't tell him about it at all. Half an hour before we needed to leave I turned up to take him (he had been warned about that bit earlier that morning but needless to say that was the one thing he did forget!). He got shown the letter (with some silly excuse about us getting it and only the previous day) and I went to make us a cup of tea. To my complete amazement he was more bothered about the "it would be beneficial to bring someone with you" line than the appointment itself. He was most indignant that we hasn't been given any notice and I had to take time off work... Tea finished he went to the appointment meek as a lamb (and wanted to tell them off about the lack of notice as soon as we arrived ) Hubby was sure we would get a load of complaints and mutterings the next time we visited but we haven't heard a single word about it since

    The conclusion we came to was that, because we managed to arrange it so that he couldn't get worked up about it in advance and didn't make a big thing about it at the time (only I went with him instead of hubby as well) it wasn't as memorable. Sadly it did confirm his understanding was as bad as we had suspected but the almighty battle to to get him there just didn't happen.

    FIL used to be the same as your dad in that he liked notice about things and being prepared and organised and so on. The problem is that he actually isn't capable of preparing or organising any more so gets stressed out and upset when he tries to do that because he seems to know he should be doing 'something'.

    I know it seems deceitful in a way but maybe you could get dad ready to go out without actually telling him why or making a big thing of it ('normal' shopping trip...?) Then when the bus turns up or maybe 5 minutes before 'find' the appointment letter and tell him then. He doesn't have time to get too seriously upset and if he is like FIL he is likely to behave a lot better with whoever comes to the door for him than for you

    Good luck
     

 

 

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