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Communication problems

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Liz57, Feb 14, 2015.

  1. Liz57

    Liz57 Registered User

    Dec 22, 2013
    184
    I know I should know how to deal with this one but I'm struggling and would appreciate some advice from those who've been there.

    Mum's memory is now so bad that she doesn't remember anything literally from one second to the next. This morning I've just missed a phone call from her (didn't get there quick enough) so immediately called her back. She was, as usual in the morning (all day for that matter) confused and scared because she's on her own so I explained that I will be in to see her in a little while. However, I started the conversation with "sorry I missed your call, what's the problem?". She denied making any call and was absolutely certain she hadn't picked up the phone. When I hung up, I checked with the 1471 number and it was her. What should I have said? I've clearly now left her more confused and anxious simply by asking the question!
     
  2. sleepless

    sleepless Registered User

    Feb 19, 2010
    3,232
    Female
    The Sweet North
    I would just say "good morning mum, how are you? I'll be round to see you later'.
    This would give her the chance to tell you if anything is amiss, and also reassure her.
     
  3. Allypally52

    Allypally52 Registered User

    Mar 11, 2014
    78
    Please don't feel bad about maybe getting it wrong as it's all such a learning curve and I do feel for you as I'm in a similar place with my dad! Yesterday he was looking at old photos (which we'd looked at together recently) and was thrilled to find some photos he forgot he had (although he'd been thrilled about them a few times already) and I was very pleased with myself that I just said 'wow, that's a great find dad' instead of 'I showed you those yesterday!', so my head grew a little bit bigger on the strength of my amazing ability to deal with dementia. This was confirmed as he looked at a photo of me and 2 cousins as children and said to me 'here's one of Hilary, Alison and Elaine', and instead of saying 'that's ME, I'm Alison' I said 'am I there dad?' to which he replied 'no, but here you are with Gratton' showing me a photo of my mum with her brother which I just agreed with. I am such an expert! Then 10 mins later as he's looking at a Wiltshire Farm Food catalogue including all their adverts from before Christmas, I'm suddenly having a heated discussion with him about it being Feb now and you won't get roast turkey and plum pudding dinners now.......getting both of us more het up by the second and I just couldn't let it go! Am I Miss Worldwide Dementia Expert of 2015? Of course not, but I'm better than I was a few weeks ago! And so are you, I bet :)
     
  4. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,296
    SW London
    #4 Witzend, Feb 14, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
    My mother became like this fairly early on - short term memory shot to pieces. You do learn to live with it, once it dawns on you that the person CANNOT remember anything for more than a second or two.

    I once had to take my BIL aside to explain this. He and SIL were visiting and while my sister was cooking my mother was calling out, 'Anything I can do?' literally every minute or two. BIL got very irritated and at one point snapped, 'Stop hassling her!' My mother was very upset. She had had dementia for quite a while and although they didn't visit often, since living a 5 hour drive away, I had honestly thought he understood. But evidently not. He did feel bad, and luckily the memory loss meant my mother very soon forgot about it.
     
  5. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    4,826
    UK
    In a weird sort of way, commenting on something your mother did 10 minutes ago is reminding her she has a bad memory! does that make sense. I'm still doing it and regret it immediately after. So I am trying really hard not to refer to anything she does or say 5 minutes before and keeping my answers or instructions really, really simple with few words, kind of hard for me because I still have the capacity to be very vocal and descriptive, poor mum doesn't.
     
  6. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    5,302
    Cotswolds
    I love this post Allypally ;) Sounds rather like me and my mum......it's okay until I lose concentration :eek:

    Wishing everyone good luck this misty morning :)

    Lindy xx
     
  7. Liz57

    Liz57 Registered User

    Dec 22, 2013
    184
    #7 Liz57, Feb 14, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
    Gosh, I really wish I could do this. I know I'm making a rod for my own back sometimes. I try so hard to be patient but I find myself gritting my teeth (literally) when I've said the same phrase over and over again in answer to the same question within a couple of minutes. My stupidity this morning resulted in over ten phone calls (not all of which I answered) with tearful messages asking me to call in. When I got there, just a five minute walk after the last call, she opened the door and expressed surprise I was there. Again, stupidly, I said, you asked me to call in and of course she denied it!

    Incidentally I can't tell you how many times recently I've said the phrase "but I'm Elizabeth". I should know better. When she once phoned to complain that "Elizabeth" hadn't been in to see her (I'd just left her), I said "oh dear perhaps she's busy". Mum agreed, hung up and didn't call again for nearly an hour. Now maybe I should try that more often!
     
  8. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    5,302
    Cotswolds
    Oh dear Liz, not a good start to the day! I'm sure we've all done it, though, well, I know I have!! Once you're in this kind of loop it can be very difficult to disentangle yourself. I try to change the subject completely, on to the weather, grandchildren, knitting, anything really.....and of course try to remember to do it differently. Above all, I try, as Tin says, not to remind mum how bad her memory is.......It's hard work!

    Sending you a big hug :)

    Lindy xx
     
  9. jaymor

    jaymor Volunteer Moderator

    Jul 14, 2006
    12,497
    Female
    England
    It is so much easier if you let everything go. The last two years my husband was at home he did not see me as his wife so every time he asked where I was I told him shopping, hairdressers or visiting a friend and then went on to suggest we do something while we waited for me to return. This would go on all day if we were at home but he was never upset by me not being there when I told him where I had gone.

    When we were out he was occupied in seeing everywhere for the first time be it the local post office or garden centre etc. all places we had visited weekly for years.

    He would also do the opposite, we passed a garage and he said that the Astra on the forecourt had been there that long they out to scrap it as no one was going to buy it. It was on the forecourt of a garage in Whitby, somewhere we had never passed before as we were on holiday there for the first time. Will we ever understand how dementia affects the brain?
     
  10. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    4,296
    SW London
    Re repetitive questions, what I somehow managed to do with FIL when he was endlessly asking the same question (once counted 35 times in one hour) was to make a sort of separate compartment in my head where I could go on answering nicely, but mechanically. I could never show the slightest irritation, since he was prone to violent rages.
    I am not the most patient person in the world, so I'm still not quite sure how I managed it!
     
  11. jen54

    jen54 Registered User

    May 20, 2014
    235
    #11 jen54, Feb 14, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2015
    trouble is it so hard not to say these things without even thinking :( mums memory is about 20 mins, but can be a lot less with some things. - but yup, I will turn up or ring back with info, or something she wants..and she has no idea she has rung, I often look like a hero, when I go round with something she has rung me about being in need of- very often she says "How did you know I was out of that-you must be a mind reader" as she was about to ring me(again) to tell me she needed it LOL I try not to remind her she has already told me, but on occasion it is such a normal reaction to say you rang earlier to ask for...she just looks blank and says she has no recall of doing that :( and I have to change the subject pretty quick.
    with the repetivie questions about family, I tend ot just answer each time- it would drive me more mad ot keep reminding her she has already asked, and as she doesn't recall- she would only say tell me again, as she wouldn't recall my answer, I tend to go into auto reply, varied answers so I don't feel like a robot-but it is easier than I thought it would be tbh as I know she genuinely has no idea she has just asked and been answered
     
  12. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    1,578
    Female
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    This is one of the hardest things of all with Mums Alzheimers.
    Mum still lives with Dad, but I am her carer ( and Dads for that matter).
    I have attended a Carers course, read books, and of course have gained a wealth of information about dementia from TP?

    Whereas, I use distraction, try not to contradict, try as hard as I can to not draw attention to Mums poor short term memory, and have a fair bit of patience,
    Dad with cognitive impairment is a bull in a china shop.
    " I told you that before" " why don't you remember" " I bet you've forgotten" " That's right you don't remember how to cook/knit/bake anymore"
    He has seen our Alzheimers Key worker, as well as the Memory Team who came to assess him. He has no coping skills, and if you try to teach him anything he forgets or reverts to his way.

    My brother who admits he has not contacted the Alzheimers Society, let alone looked up any info can be just as bad.
    " Mum you've put the XYZ in the freezer it should be in the fridge"
    " I told you that before Mum, stop asking"

    The other day when Mum watched the same TV programme for the third time he asked why I couldn't write on her whiteboard to remind that she had already watched it!!!!

    My sister has a bit more understanding, but Mum did say to me that she does not have much patience :)

    No wonder why Mum is as confused as she is.
    I wish we were all on the same page, but it's just not going to happen :(
     

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