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I'm a new carer, help

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by Kiro, Sep 21, 2015.

  1. Kiro

    Kiro Registered User

    Sep 21, 2015
    I have just recently started to care for my mother in law who has early onset dementia. My husband very much wants to do every thing for her and I think w e should be encouraging her to use her brain. What do you think?:confused:
  2. Alison N

    Alison N Registered User

    Jan 3, 2015
    I was very much like you to begin with Kiro. I thought 'use it or lose it' but I find to prevent frustration and to keep calm and harmony I am doing most of the chores around the house. My husband is only a year from being diagnosed with young onset Alzheimer's at 51 and I know he tries to help but I just end up putting right the wrongs. I suppose all the time your MIL doesn't have too much of a problem and you can cope with the outcome then carry on. You will know when the time is right.
  3. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    You might be setting yourself up for a fall. By all means let her do things she still can and wants to do but memory and abilities go irretrievably so you have to be prepared for her deteriorating. It's unwise to expect too much of people. God knows, I did, and I got so frustrated when things went wrong. You can't exercise their brain anymore. What's gone is gone and your goal is to prevent their anxiety. It's frightening losing abilities so be kind and take over when required.
  4. DMac

    DMac Registered User

    Jul 18, 2015
    Surrey, UK
    Hi Kiro, I agree with what others have said. I was given some great advice when I first joined TP, not so long ago, which in essence is to keep calm, keep my MIL calm by letting her do as much as she wants or feels able to, go with the flow, and not to beat myself up if something doesn't work perfectly! For example, my MIL continues to wash clothes but doesn't separate them out - at the moment it's no big deal. If she offers to help at mealtimes, I try to get her to do one small job, such as laying the table. Yes, we sometimes get 9 knives and 1 fork, but I just quietly put the right cutlery out, and most importantly, I avoid correcting her, otherwise she can get very upset. It's hard, but I'm just about getting used to it!

    The only thing I would urge you to do is to make sure she is as safe as can be, especially if you cannot be there 24/7 to keep an eye on her. How safe is safe? It is a judgement call at the end of the day. There are some measures you can take though, such as getting a personal home alarm set up, linked to fire sensors (our local council did a good deal on this). As my MIL's abilities have deteriorated, my family has assumed more control. We now do most of her food shopping and preparation of meals, but we still give her small amounts of cash, so she can buy things like bread and milk from a local shop. Recently, after much agonising, we disabled her car to stop her driving it - she was absolutely not safe on the road any more. Again, we did this behind her back, to avoid a confrontation. She just thinks the car is 'broken', and as time has gone on, she has almost forgotten about it. The car is about to be sold, by the way!

    I hope this helps - keep posting if you have any more questions.
    Take care. xxx
  5. IanDB

    IanDB Registered User

    Sep 16, 2015
    Hi Kiro
    As much as I would like to give you a definite answer, I'm afraid there isn't one.
    My wife is also in the early stages of AD & in my experience there are days when she can do things and days when she can't. In many ways it is easier to just take over completely & do everything yourself, but personally I prefer to let Bel do whatever she feels comfortable attempting, with the reassurance that I'm close by & will help if she needs me to (or tactfully take over if it's all going wrong).
    We have to remember that we are dealing with adults who have had many years of making their own decisions & running their own lives, and who are now struggling to come to terms with the reality of some things no longer making sense to them. I believe that it's important for their self esteem to let them do as much as they can for themselves (within reason - anything that could be dangerous should be avoided, obviously)

    Best wishes
  6. Beetroot

    Beetroot Registered User

    Aug 19, 2015
    Echo the avoidance of anxiety, but I find with my mum that includes not helping her feel "useless" by doing everything for her. She needs occupation other than sitting with a book or being taken for a walk. You need a deal of patience tho' and to let go of the idea that your way is the only or best way and to put up with sneakily washing up some of the dishes again, or re-weeding that patch of garden.
  7. jimbosmith

    jimbosmith Registered User

    May 10, 2013
    Hi Kiro

    I agree with what others have advised.

    I have been looking after my mum for 8 years now. One of the things that I have found helped is to find the things that can distract her and these are often memories from her childhood.

    For example, my mum will ask where her mother is and gets into a real hyper situation. I am able to reassure her by saying she is working at 'The Castle' and she will be coming back past the shops in 'West Street'.

    These are all snippets I have found out about from relatives and also from when her memory was better and she would mention these details. I've kept hold of them in my memory instead.

    Are you looking after her full time? Are you still able to get some time to yourself?

  8. IanDB

    IanDB Registered User

    Sep 16, 2015
    We were at a support group run by the Memory Clinic yesterday & the nurse talked about this. I made a note of what she said:
    "Our natural instinct is to look after & do things for someone we love, but this will lead to them quickly becoming more dependent"
    Her advice was to do things "with" rather than "for" - which sounds fine in theory, but everyone is unique & what works for one may not for another...
  9. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    The trouble is, when it comes to dementia, doing things 'with' can mean taking ages to do something you could do very quickly - or else having to do it again later.

    Such advice is all very well, but I have often thought that some of the advice re dementia care assumes that carers have both infinite time AND infinite patience. And it can make carers who don't have unlimited amounts of either feel inadequate.

    As for encouraging someone to use their brain, again that is all very well and good, but sadly there often comes a time when you have to accept that the ability to do X or Y is lost - even when it's something they could do standing on their heads before - and no amount of encouragement is going to bring it back.
  10. wilf

    wilf Registered User

    Mar 19, 2014
    Well said witzend. Many well meaning people who advise this and that have not had the hands on 24/7 experience of trying to achieve the impossible. It is a sad reality that as dementia progresses, us carers have to accept that our loved ones need us to act for them.
  11. stu100

    stu100 Registered User

    Feb 4, 2015
    I let my nan do who ever she can while she can even though it would be easier if I did it.

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