Managing smoking by someone with Alzheimers

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Pat H, Oct 18, 2004.

  1. Pat H

    Pat H Registered User

    Oct 18, 2004
    5
    If someone has any advice about this I'd be so grateful - I am at my wits' end.
    My father has Alzheimers. 40 years ago he gave up smoking, only to start again 6 months ago having forgotten he gave it up. He is now an incredibly heavy smoker.

    He moved into a home 5 weeks ago after a desperate period when he still lived alone at home, with many crises and accidents. However, his smoking is causing such grave problems to the Home that they have indicated to me that unless I can do something about it he will have to be removed. He will smoke in his room and although he has been told time and time again, and big "no smoking" notices have been put up in his room, he says he will do what he damn well pleases as it is his room. He has also started to smoke openly elsewhere in the Home, even though there is a designated smoking area which up till now he's been happy to use.
    He gets his cigs from a garage 100yards down the road and thought the Home staff have managed to get them off him up til now, it's obviously of grave concern to them as he's such a danger to them and himself. he gets v nasty when challenged about his smoking.

    I just don't know what to do. He cannot live at home on his own; if the Home say to take hims away I just have no idea what we can do. I need to find a way of managing hs smoking, or somehow getting it into his brain that he must stop smoking in his room. We have had that conversation endlessly and he agrees - and then 5 seconds later it's gone completely.

    If anyone has had experience of this type of thing I would so love to hear how you coped. Also is talking to Social services any use? The Home is private but although money is not the problem, dealing with an unpleasant man who is causing huge problems for everyone around him, is.
    Many thanks.
     
  2. Gee

    Gee Registered User

    Jun 23, 2004
    13
    london
    Smoking

    Hi Pat, Welcome to the TP (talking point) site. My Mother used to smoke and burn the carpets, the chairs, her clothes, and never give it a thought when I'd point out how dangerous she was becoming. We had cat litter trays filled with sand down both sides of her chair in case she dropped the ciggerett. Plus at one time I used to have to sit with her when she had a ciggerett. If I ever dared to say that she ought to give it up she would get really cross with me. So I started off by taking her ciggeretts away from her whenever I could, and it had to be when she wasn't looking. Then when she used to ask where they were I acted very suprised and say Oh Mum you don't want to go back to smoking do you? I'd go on about it being smelly and everythings else I could think of which was unpleasant about it, and then when she wasn't expecting it I change the subject completly, and by the time I'd finished she'd forgotten what she'd ask me for in the first place. It didn't work at first but to cut a long storty short she eventually forgot she had ever been a smoker. Because your Dad is in a home they more than likely cannot give him as much time as I did being at home with her, but if they could try certain smoking times where someone watches when he smokes, then take them off him. Or have a word with the doctor about nicontenil patches, maybe they would help. He may be bored and thats why he is smoking so much. Do other people in the home smoke? Maybe they can try my trick. I was lucky in as much as it worked in the end, plus I had the time to do it. If the home could give it ago it may just work.
    Hope this helps from Gee
     
  3. Kriss

    Kriss Registered User

    May 20, 2004
    513
    Shropshire
    Hello Pat

    can they stop him going out to get the cigarettes in the first place? It must be a pretty open sort of set up. Will they be able to continue to care for him much longer in that sort of environment?

    if not then the only way to be sure would be if they were to "look after them" for him.

    My Aunt was a pretty heavy smoker - we were terrified when she was at home as we were always finding stubs alongside her chair on top of various bits of mail. Now she's in the home the matron looks after her supply and will supervise if she comes and asks for one. To date I think she just forgets to ask!

    Its a bit like the money thing - I keep repeating "if you need any cash/a cigarette just ask Matron - remember she keeps things safe for you"!

    Its very scary isn't it. Please let us know how you get on.

    Kriss
     
  4. thompsonsom

    thompsonsom Registered User

    Jul 4, 2004
    97
    halifax
    smoking

    Hi

    My mother in law is a smoker and when she first came to live with us she used to keep her ciggies in her handbag but we used to have a right time trying to get them off her at bedtime to avoid any smoking in the bedroom, in the end because we knew once she went into respite she would not be allowed to keep her cigs with her we decided it would be best if we tried to wean her off having them with her. we started with the day care by giving them to the carers, I send her without about 4 but she usually only smokes 1 whilst she is there, then at night I give them to her periodically and we always sit with her whilst she smokes them. We have got cig burns in our dining room carpet from when she 1st came to live with us but things have improved since we took the cigs away.

    janice
     
  5. barraf

    barraf Registered User

    Mar 27, 2004
    308
    Huddersfield
    Managing smoking by someone with Alzheimer's

    Welcome Pat

    It seems to me that the home should be taking some responsibilty for his smoking. What kind of setup have they got that allows Alzheimer's sufferes to be wandering out to buy cigarettes?

    Perhaps you should be looking at home with a more secure system.

    When my friend was in a similar position she couldn't get out to the shops unsupervised, and any cigarettes she had were kept in the office and handed out one at a time, and the patients were only allowed to smoke in a designated area.

    Eventually she forgot that she smoked and gave up altogether.

    Not a lot of help I'm afraid but at least you know we are listening.

    Cheers Barraf
     
  6. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    12,413
    near London
    Hello Pat

    well at Jan's home, they remove the lighters/matches and dole out cigarettes to the few who want them, on demand. They then light them for the people and there is a designated place for them to pollute.

    Everyone [staff AND visitors] watches out for the odd time - usually with respite people - when the practical rules are not observed.

    Without the means to light the fags, some people wander around holding them as if they are lit, or with one drooping from their lips.

    It works, but the home definitely has to have a proactive policy.

    At Jan's home NO RESIDENT can simply wander out and I guess your Dad's home is not one dedicated to Alzheimer's/dementia people otherwise it would be the case there too. My own feeling is that homes with a mixed population should have secure wings for dementia patients, for their - and everyone else's - protection.
     
  7. Pat H

    Pat H Registered User

    Oct 18, 2004
    5
    thanks to you all

    Dear Gee, Kriss, Janice, Barraf and Brucie
    thank you all so much for taking the time to reply. I tell you what, the best thing is knowing we're not on our own! - and that other people have gone through this and come out the other side. We've now taken all Dad's money and his cigs are with the manager, so the real fear of his smoking in his room has I hope been removed. The real difficulty is that he gets so angry - frustrated - when he has no money and when he's told he can't do something - but hopefully the Home is used to dealing with that.
    Barraf, your comment that "at least you know we're listening" did indeed stroke a chord. Thank you.
     
  8. thompsonsom

    thompsonsom Registered User

    Jul 4, 2004
    97
    halifax
    Hi Pat

    glad we could have all been off help to you. When mum moved in with us money was a huge problem, she never had enough of it. We have now weaned her off money as with her cigs and yes we had some frustrating times and still do occasionally but they are now few and far between. She still thinks she needs to buy her cigs but we tell her that as she no longer lives in her own house the government wont pay her any money but pay us instead and we buy her cigs and everything else she needs. It is hard sometimes when you know the frustration what comes with not managing your own life but you just have to keep telling yourself its only for your dad's own good and so that does him no harm.
    good luck

    janice
     
  9. TED

    TED Registered User

    Sep 14, 2004
    154
    Middlesex
    hi
    it's a bit off the original topic but my mum still smokes having done so for years, she sees it as the last of her pleasures so we cant really deprive her (bit late to tell her it's bad for her health isnt it)

    but she cant see to light them properly, and I've caught her lighting the but end or her fingers etc. So now Dad has yet another thing to do everytime she wants a fag. Dunno how this will progress but she does go out the back door to smoke it, I am worried (as I always am ... it seems to be my role in the family as the worrier) that she will either walk off, lock herself out the house or leave the door open so that some scally can come in and rob them blind (excuse the pun)

    There is also the added bonus that the dinning room now has burn marks in the chair / carpet and apparantly the table has caught alight too from a smouldering tablecloth.

    As usual Dad brushes it aside as it's just one of those things, but have you seen how long it takes a cigarette to ignite an armchair and how in a matter of mins the place will be alight. I know I am scared and making it sound much worse than it probably is, but I dont want to think that the place is dangerous to them both.

    thanks all had to get that one off my mind.

    sorry this doesnt really help the original threads post, perhaps they could try putting some nicorette patches on thieir back that might lessen the need to get a ciggie in the first place....

    you all take care
    thinking of you all.
    TED
    x
     
  10. Pat H

    Pat H Registered User

    Oct 18, 2004
    5
    Dear Ted
    I feel for you - that's what we've been through and what everyone else in this thread seems to have referred to as well. Dad also set fire to the tablecloth and to the kitchen carpet.

    It is a constant worry isn't it and scarey too as Kriss says earlier in the thread. But how terrific is this website where so many people have the same experience and want to support others through such a terrible time.

    re nicotel patches; I've been told that unless the person involved really wants to give up a) they don't do anything and b)they can cause strokes if used while people still smoke.

    good luck with your mum and dad. great for them that they are still together - but more of a worry for you.
     
  11. TED

    TED Registered User

    Sep 14, 2004
    154
    Middlesex
    hi
    knew I shouldnt have put the comment in about the patches, sorry for my ignorance I didnt know they could cause strokes. Never smoked so no idea what the feeling is like to need something. You say your Dad actually hadnt smoked for years, it's just he's forgotton. Maybe there is a possibility that it gives him something to do.....seriously I believe that Mum carrys on not only as it's something she cant really give up but it means she can get out of her chair, light up (if we're lucky) and go outside. I do worry about them both all the time, so much so that I am considering going to get professional help for ME, as there is no way I can burden Dad with my problems now and the rest of the family are about as useful to me as a chocolate wok

    Anyway, I do hope that your Dad is in the best of care, and having as much love as possible.

    today has been a good day
    I hope that tomorrow is the same.

    TED
     
  12. thompsonsom

    thompsonsom Registered User

    Jul 4, 2004
    97
    halifax
    Hi Ted

    Mum used to light the wrong end of the fag and we decided best to stop her lighting them herself when she tried to comb her hair with the lit lighter thinking it was a comb. We are now considering letting her forget she smokes in order to give it up. We are going to start giving her something else when she asks for a cig such as a banana or bar of chocolate in the hope that by the time she has eaten it she will have forgot she wanted one. Until then we supervise her every time she has a cig and do not let her walk around with one in her hand as we too, have many cig burns in our carpet and am loathe to purchase a new one until she is no longer smoking.

    janice
     
  13. Pat H

    Pat H Registered User

    Oct 18, 2004
    5
    Hello Ted
    I hope today is a good day for your mum and dad, and you too. Re getting help for yourself to cope; I think anything you can do that will help keep you strong, and help you keep going when all you want to do is sit and weep, is a good idea. And in terms of more practical help - you are having that aren't you, like a Community Psychatric Nurse calling; and also help from Social services to see what they can provide for you?

    It's interesting that a common theme on this wretched smoking problem is the boredom aspect. I'm sure that's absolutely right but in the end I'm not in a position to entertain my father 24 hours a day, and neither is anyone else; he's an old curmudgeon at the best of times and dislikes everyone else in the Home especially the women - he's always been very damning of women, nothing to do with the disease! So he won't talk to anyone, won't make any effort to find out others' stories, is rude to everyone - again he's always been like that. So though I agree that it is all about boredom, there's not much any of us can do about that; and I do think alot of it is that men of my father's generation don't like being told what - or not - to do.

    How great is this website! Isn't it so helpful to know there's a whole heap of poeple out there all wrestling with exactly the same problem.

    Take care and go get that help. sometimes just talking to someone outside the problem can be immensely helpful.
    Pat
     
  14. Kriss

    Kriss Registered User

    May 20, 2004
    513
    Shropshire
    Pat - its not just the men who don't like being told what to do!

    My aunt was very independent and having nursed my uncle through his latter years had made the decisions and controlled everything herself. How difficult it must be for such "strong" people to cope with the problems that they are now cursed with and in their often confused state to grasp why everything is so alien.

    Its a cruel cruel business.

    Kriss
     
  15. TED

    TED Registered User

    Sep 14, 2004
    154
    Middlesex
    thanks Pat

    Pat

    Thankfully Dad has been able to get some help around the home for a few hours in the week, this however only allows him time to go out and do the shopping and pay bills etc so really doesnt have the time for him to rest.

    I do my bit but am only available at weekends and evenings as work takes up my days (far too much sadly) and having spoken to Dad he says it's good of the children to come over at night when they can but it is day time that they both need

    Am going to see if I can negotiate with work to get one half day off a week or something and offer that time to Dad on a regular basis, knowing my company they will say no, but there is a precident as one colleague already changed to a 4 day week for the very same reason.

    Briefly On the subject of talking to people, apart from using this website I also visit a centre run by the Samaritans group, excellent work they do not just with people wanting to finish it all, but they will listen and I think from my own personal experience that just having a place to go when you need it provides me with the comfort that i need.

    I hope that you are all going to have a nice relaxing weekend. No smoking now, its not big and it's not clever, wheras drinking and eating curry is of course !!

    take care all
    TED
     

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