Cancer and Alzheimer's - help?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Rach01, Jun 23, 2015.

  1. Rach01

    Rach01 Registered User

    Jun 20, 2015

    I'm still quite new to this site, but had a couple of helpful responses in my first post so thought I'd see if I can get some advice again.

    My Grandad has Alzheimer's and was recently diagnosed with Lung Cancer, my mum is his main carer however she is away this week so I have offered to attend a hospital appointment with my Grandad on Thursday, where they will be making a plan for what treatment he will need - we're hoping it will just be radiotherapy.

    I attended the last appointment with my mum present, and found that my Grandad looked quite blankly when the discussion was in place.

    Does anyone have any advice they can give me in regards to the best way of preparing my Grandad for the appointment and throughout the appointment. I am going to take notes, but my Grandad won't ask questions and feels that all the appointments are a bit over the top.

    Can I ensure he's understanding without patronising?

    I'm not sure even sure what I'm asking, just any advice re appointment attending would be good!

    Many thanks

  2. daisydi

    daisydi Registered User

    Feb 25, 2015
    Hi Rachel, not sure if I am going to be much help but firstly I would write down all the circumstances surrounding your grandad's illness and hand it to the consultant so you dont have to be discussing his condition in front of him and also write down any questions you feel you may need to ask in case you forget anything. Taking notes is a good idea and then try to explain to your grandad in simple terms or get the professionals to do that for you. It's a horrible situation for you but I can't think of anything else to say. Good luck
  3. Kezzamac

    Kezzamac Registered User

    Apr 28, 2015
    Hi Rachel

    I'm so sorry your grandad is going through cancer as well as Alzheimer's.

    I can't really offer any help, but just wanted to empathise.

    When I take my Mil to any doctors appointments I explain carefully why we're going. She'll ask at least 3 times on the way 'why are we going?'. During the appointment she sits and stares into space and the doctor and I do all the talking. Then afterwards, without fail, she says 'well that was a waste of time!' But she has no idea why we were there or what the results were.

    So I totally understand where you're coming from. All you can do is try your best to explain things, but the chances are, he will forgot pretty quickly afterwards anyway.

    Good luck.
  4. florabunda

    florabunda Registered User

    Nov 13, 2014
    Hi Rachel
    My 86 year old mum also has dementia and breast cancer. She is adamant that she does not have cancer, because her body will not allow that to happen! The GP persuaded me to take her to the consultant, who explained that she has a large malignant lump which will become fungoid and smelly if left untreated. But mum is very clear that she does not want to be "messed about". And I respect that. Why not leave her in la-la land where she is happy for the time being, and cross bridges if and when we come to them?
    A few weeks ago I attended the funeral of a neighbour, who had endured nearly 3 years of horrible treatment for bowel cancer.
    What is the point? We must all die of something. You can only base your decision on your knowledge of your loved one's wishes before they had dementia. But I personally would go for quality rather then length of life every time.
    Don't know if this is any help at all - I hope so.
  5. Countryboy

    Countryboy Registered User

    Mar 17, 2005
    My Dad and Mum , mums Brother & Sister all had dementia and all died of a Cancer
    but ther were in their ninities so lived to good age
  6. Fred Flintstone

    Fred Flintstone Registered User

    Aug 28, 2014
    S. E. England
    #6 Fred Flintstone, Jun 24, 2015
    Last edited: Jun 24, 2015
    Hi Rachel and welcome to the forum.

    My first thought is, how helpful would it be for your grandfather to know and understand that he's been diagnosed with what is probably a terminal illness particularly given that he probably wouldn't be able to do either?

    In your place I would try to get him good palliative care, just to keep him as comfortable as possible and to try and treat the symptoms one by one as they appear.

    Heroic cancer treatment is probably simply impossible for him. My own father needs a permanent catheter because of an enlarged prostate. When I asked about an operation, the consultant urologist said that it was not only a matter of whether he would survive the operation, but also of how long it would take him to re-mobilize afterwards. On the latter point he said the chances are that my father never would.

    I understand King George VI was never told he had the cancer of which he was to die. He had an operation to remove an obstruction in his lung, so he was told, and passed away quietly in his sleep.

    It all depends on the stage of the cancer, and of what treatment is appropriate to the needs of a sick old man with dementia.

    You've said your mother is away this week. Are you able to speak with your mother before the appointment? Alternatively, would you be able to leave the appointment with the consultant with decisions deferred, all being subject to the proviso that you have to discuss future treatment with your mother? My feeling is that the latter will probably be necessary, but the uncertainty in the meantime will be stressful.

    I suggest you ask the consultant to send your grandfather's GP a full medical report on his condition so as you and your mother can try to make the best decision on his behalf. If you or your mother have a good relationship with your grandfather's GP, he might be the best to advise you. He will probably share the contents of the report with you.

    Best wishes,
  7. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    End of 2012 and at the beginning of Mums dementia and before her actual Alzheimers diagnosis, she was diagnosed with early stage bowel cancer.

    Even then there was nothing we could really do or say to prepare Mum for her appointments or tests. We had to take it as it came.
    Mum could only really say No/Yes to questions, nothing in depth.
    The bowel cancer prep of withdrawing food/solutions to drink/ enemas, and frequent trips to the loo and resulting sore bottom, Mum found very distressing

    Even after having a colonoscopy and on being told they found a pre/early cancerous polyp on her bowel and would require surgery to remove part of her bowel she still didn't quite grasp the seriousness.
    Even on the day of her surgery and they were measuring her for a colostomy bag if one was needed she didn't ask questions.
    Thank goodness she got the surgery OK & didn't need a colostomy bag, but the anesthetic did hasten her dementia, and was formally diagnosed with AD July 2013.

    Mum also has Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia, which is slow growing and so far just has regular blood tests.
    I have POA for Health & Welfare but along with my sister we have decided that Mum is not to have any more colonoscopies. She didn't handle it well 3 yrs ago, and would be worse now.
    We just have to go on symptoms alone, with a yearly blood test for a bowel cancer marker.
    Also with her Leukemia we have decided that any lumbar punctures/bone marrow biopsies/chemo at Mums age and given AD will not add to her quality of life nor much to her quantity.

    Unless your Mum was there I think you will have to just do the best you can, make notes, ask questions, and not be pressured into making decisions without consulting your Mum first. The question is if your Grandad has enough cognitive function to understand by including him, or will it distress him more?

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