1. susie68

    susie68 Registered User

    Apr 16, 2008
    2
    East Sussex
    Hello! My mother-in-law is currently undergoing all the assessments from medical & social services in order to get some sort of diagnosis (which all professionals concerned believe will be dementia/alzheimers).
    However my question today is about the social protocol involved in conversations with someone with the illness - I ask because the last time I saw mum-in-law (Margaret) I worked around the questions/comments which suggested I didn't live with her son, however when she asked me where my husband was I did then point across the room at Martin (her son) and said "Well he's just over there". At which point she burst into tears. So now don't know whether to just go along with her view of the world, or to redirect/correct (gently!) when appropriate. For example, we're currently having conversation after conversation about why we didn't tell her we got married which we do counter with "Er we did, you were there" - no upset so far in response to that so it seems sometimes she can deal with a factual correction. Is there any right way to tackle conversations?

    Also, Margaret is coming down for a few days today (Martin's just gone to get her) and the last time she came down she went to bed at 7pm, then reappeared at 11pm with her clothes ready to get dressed as it was the morning - is this expected/normal behaviour? (As she currently lives on her own we have no idea what she does when at her own house - other than going to bed by 7.30pm so we don't phone after 7pm now!) Martin wants to try to keep his mum up til later - is there any value in that?

    Thanks in advance for any insights.
    Best wishes,
    Sue
     
  2. Mameeskye

    Mameeskye Registered User

    Aug 9, 2007
    1,669
    NZ
    Hi Sue

    Unfortunately there is no protocol with this disease. Each sufferer is different. What you have to do is make the best guess as to the best answer at the time. However becuase you can't enter your MIL's reality don't berate yourself too much if your answer is not the right one. You know that you try your best.

    I used to enter Mum's world if she was happy in it and only correct if she was distressed. Sometimes then you need to distract, if the reality is also going to cause pain. e.g. ranting Mum on phone asking why I was not coming down to Dad's funeral (it had been 4 years earlier!!) Then I had to point her gently back. Then went on to tell her what her grandsons had done today to distract. It sometimes worked, it sometimes didn't!

    As to the sleeping times I know that in the earlier stages the NH gently tried to steer people into correct sleeping habits, where they could. Bath, cuppa and supper with a wee blether and bed, making it a wee bit later if they had been going to bed very early (For what was their norm as this was one of the questions they asked us!) At some times it worked, at others...well there were days when I would go in at mid-day to be told Mum was still asleep as she had been up chatting to one of the other residents until 3 in the morning!

    You may find that your MIL is able to take her clues from you. Mum often did before going into the NH and when I stayed she knew when to go to bed, when to get up because of me. It does depend on how far the disease has progressed.

    I found Mum was always better by the end of a stay as to her orientation to time and place as you have a structure, after an awful first couple of days.

    Good Luck and Welcome.

    Mameeskye
     
  3. Skye

    Skye Registered User

    Aug 29, 2006
    17,000
    SW Scotland
    Hi Susie, welcome to TP.

    The only protocol is that you try to avoid upsetting your loved one -- and if that means going along with her version of reality, then that's the thing to do.

    You say that she can sometimes handle gentle correction -- in that case, try the correction first, and if that seems to upset her, back-pedal quickly and apologise for getting it wrong!

    It could be that she is clinging to Martin as her anchor, and resents you being part of his life. It could even be that she ses him as her husband, and thinks you're taking him away from her. These delusions are quite common, perhaps you could gently sound her out on this?

    The time-distortion is also quite common. Margaret wakes up after a deep sleep, and thinks that it is time to get up. The fact that it is dark outside, and everyone else is asleep, just doesn't seem to register.

    Thy Mameeskye's technique of delaying bedtime, but if that doesn't work all you can do is reassure, give a warm dring and gently guide back to bed.

    It's not easy, I'm afraid!:eek:

    Good luck,
     
  4. susie68

    susie68 Registered User

    Apr 16, 2008
    2
    East Sussex
    Re Advice

    Thanks to you both for such speedy feedback - really helpful & reassuring.
    Thanks, sue x
     

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