My Granny's situation

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by Spiggy, Apr 2, 2007.

  1. Spiggy

    Spiggy Registered User

    Apr 2, 2007
    6
    Gloucestershire
    Hello. I didn't really know how to title this post. I introduced myself in the 'intro' topic.

    I am the 34 year old granddaughter of an 89 year old woman with Alzheimer's. She is my Mum's Mum, and she now lives in a nursing home which specialises in Alzheimer's. I'm writing this on behalf of my Mum really, as she would like to know more about other people's experiences, but she doesn't want to be a burden and she's not confident enough with computers to be able to use this forum.

    Granny was in sheltered housing, with a flat to herself and a warden. This was about 5 years ago. She was first diagnosed with Alzheimer's after she lost the following:
    Ability to tell the time.
    Ability to recognise the values of coins and notes.
    Became forgetful (would leave the stove on, etc), and confused about things.
    Began to wander around town at night, until she was found by a good-natured member of the public or a police officer.
    Regualrly insisted that people/neighbours were coming into her house and stealing/moving things around. She would have arguments with the neighbours, accusing them of all sorts of things.

    Mum and Dad tried to take her on holiday, the journey was taken by car with frequent stops. Dad had a sattelite nav system in the car, which was switched on. At the end of the journey (a few hundred miles) Granny leapt out of the car and ran away accross the road, in a distressed state. She had got the idea into her head that the sattelite nav computer was controlling Dad (because it was telling him which way to go and he was obeying), and that he wasn't Dad any more but some imposter ('bad' Dad) who meant to harm her. She also thought that this 'bad' Dad had done away with 'good' Dad, and had convinced Mum to be with him instead of 'good' Dad.
    After Mum went after Granny and explained to her the real situation, Granny didn't believe her. She would not let Dad into the holiday cottage, so he had to wait down at the local pub until Mum phoned him to say that Granny was asleep and it was 'safe' to come back.
    In the morning Granny still believed in the 'bad' Dad, and would not accept food or drink from Mum or Dad, as she believed that they were trying to poison her.
    They had to cut the holiday short and bring her home again. They contacted the doctor immediately.

    After that, Granny was put into a residential assessment centre where she stayed for some months until the progression/level of her Alzheimer's was established, then a suitable place was found for her to recieve residential care.

    The care home is only 10 miles away from Mum and Dad, and Mum goes to see Granny every day. Nowadays Granny talks mostly nonsense, but she does have short periods of lucidity (ie: only a sentence or two at a time, 5 minutes on a good day).
    I live over the other side of the country to Mum and Dad, so I don't get to see them or Granny very often, but we are in telephone contact regularly.

    A couple of weeks ago I went to visit her with my Mum and my sister, who brought her baby along to meet Granny. That went well - in amongst the nonsense Granny understood that this was her great-granddaughter. She was very proud and pleased to have her family around her, she was able to hold the baby for 10 minutes with no problems.
    Baby needed a feed, and my sister and Mum left the room. I said I would catch them up, and stayed talking with Granny for a little longer. She seemed to be more lucid with me than with the other members of the family - we spoke about Grandad (who had died when I was 17), who she has not mentioned for years and years to anyone else - Mum had thought that she had forgotten about him!
    But then Mum called me to leave - I didn't really want to as Granny seemed to be having a good time with me, but I had to go - Mum can't spend too long with Granny as it upsets her and she finds it very stressful to see her mother deteriorate as time goes by.

    Mum has manic depression, and has been told by her doctor that she would not be able to look after Granny, which is why she can't spend so much time with her.

    I wish that I lived nearer so that I could visit Granny more often, but money and time are short (I work in the community support area, which means low wages and long hours). I speak to Granny on the phone, but she is rather deaf, and refuses to wear a hearing aid, so I know that she doesn't hear much of what I say, even when I raise my voice.

    Sorry about this, I'm rambling - here come my questions soon....

    7 days ago Granny fell over in her room while Mum was visiting. An ambulance was called, and luckily Granny had not broken anything. After Mum and the ambulance left Granny fell again, this time she broke her hip. She was on the floor for 30 mins before staff found her (luckily, as if it had been a different time of day she could have been lying on the floor all night!).
    She went straight to hospital and her hip was pinned. The doctors' plan is to give her physiotherapy to get her back on her feet, and then she can go back to the nursing home.
    The trouble is, Granny is not sure where she is in hospital. Since the operation she has had no lucid moments at all, and is increasingly confused. She is very suspicious and thinks that people are trying to poison her again. So, she is refusing all food, drink, and medications. She has another urinary infection (she has always been reluctant to drink for fear of wetting herself, so she gets loads of these infections, which don't do her mind any good) because she will not drink. Doctors did put a drip in her arm, but she kept pulling it out, so they won't put another one in. She also tries to pull out her catheter. She has become violent with doctors and nursing staff, trying to bite and hit them.

    I'm very glad that she was able to see her great-granddaughter before she broke her hip and took a turn for the worse.

    I am wondering if there has been anyone else who has had similar experiences of:

    Being told by doctors that you can't look after your loved one because you have a mental illness.
    Alzheimer's patients taking a turn for the worse since being under anaesthetic for a major operation.

    I think that's about it really, thanks for reading. sorry it was so long, but it all sort of flooded out!
     
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,550
    Kent
    Hi Spiggy,

    That`s why TP is here, so `it can all flood out`. It doesn`t matter how much you post and how long your posts are, it all helps to get to know you, your Mum and your Granny.

    I can`t answer the question about those with manic depression being considered unable to look after someone with Alzheimers, as that is a clinical decision. But people with Alzheimers have such challenging behaviour, that I`m sure with the best will in the world, it would only add to the problems.

    I can tell you it is common for a stay in hospital to cause confusion, with or without Alzheimers, especially in the elderly. When my grandmother was in hospital, she frightened some of the other patients by her behaviour, and she was one of the kindest and most gentle woman you would wish to meet.

    It`s such a shame your mother can`t access a computer. I`m sure she would find help and friendship on TP.

    Good luck with your long distance caring.

    With love
     
  3. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Hi there and welcome to TP

    It has been my personal experience that hospitals are just about the worse place for an elderly person who is confused: I don't know that it is the surgery per se, it's simply that no one has enough time to take care of and reassure them. As your parents found when they tried to take your grandmother on holiday, even "good" changes can be a disaster from a confusion point of view. You're absolutely right about the urinary infections: they will produce an increase in confusion.

    Although I don't know of anyone who has been told they can't look after their loved one (in fact, it's much more frequent that people can't the help they do need), I do think that is probably wise that this has happened. As a depression sufferer, although controlled with medication, I do not think that I could care for my mother 24/7 and retain my sanity, no matter how good my intentions were.

    Flooding is what we're good at here: flood away!

    Jennifer
     
  4. Spiggy

    Spiggy Registered User

    Apr 2, 2007
    6
    Gloucestershire
    Things the same...

    Thanks all.
    Unfortunately there has been no change in Granny's situation. She is still refusing medication (painkillers and her Alz stuff), refusing a drip, and refusing to eat or drink more than a tiny amount. She's lost lots of weight (which she couldn't afford to lose given her size before she broke her hip). She's also refusing physio.

    We really don't know how she has managed to hold on for this long.

    14mar07-4s.jpg

    This is granny before she broke her hip, with her great-granddaughter
     
  5. blue sea

    blue sea Registered User

    Aug 24, 2005
    270
    England
    Hello Spiggy
    Thank you for posting that photograph of your granny. How lovely for you to know she had those precious few minutes of lucidity but also, of course, how heartbreaking for you and you mum to witness her current deterioration. I can only agree with everyone else's comments. Hospital is hugely disorientating for people with dementia. I do hope your grandmother recovers enough to be able to be moved to more suitable surroundings. You are doing a brilliant job supporting her and your mum. I also agree that , hard as it seems, it would probably have been disastrous for your mum to been left to care for your gran and would have only made the situation worse for everyone as caring for anyone with dementia is enomously stressful and needs someone to be on a very even keel. Perhaps you could request a review of your grandmother's care in hospital? PALS is a useful contact - a hospital support service in every area which helps patients and relatives with worries. There will be posters in the hospital about how to contact them. Or you could request a meeting with the doctor in charge of your gran's case. You can do this via the nurse in charge of the ward. Sometimes no improvements can be made but it can make you feel a lot better if you have the chance to talk through your concerns with the medical staff.
    Thinking of you with great admiration for how well you are coping with everything.
    blue sea
     
  6. joyportsmouth

    joyportsmouth Registered User

    Mar 26, 2007
    31
    hI
    i KNEW MY MUM HAD SOMETHING WRONG AS SHE HAD BEEN GETING WORSE THE LAST FEW YEARS AND WE WERE TRYING TO GET A CARE PACKAGE IN PLACE WHEN SHE HAD TO GO IN HOSPITAL FOR A DIABETIC HYPO AND A BROKEN ARM,FOR ABOUT AN HOUR SHE KNEW SHE WAS IN HOSPITAL BUT THEN SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS ON HOLIDAY.SHE HAS NEVER REALLY BEEN THE SAME SINCE,WHILE IN THERE THEY DIAOGNOSED VASCULAR DEMENTIA WHICH WASNT A SURPRISE BUT IT WAS SHOCKING HOW QUICKLY SHE SLIPPED INTO HER OWN LITTLE WORLD.
    I ASKED THE DOCTOR WHY SHE HAD DETERIATED SO QUICKLY AND HE SAID THAT IN PEOPLE WITH THIS KIND OF ILLNESS ANY KIND OF SHOCK IE PHYSICAL,MENTAL MEDICAL ECT CAN CAUSE A DETERIATION AS THE BRAIN IS AFFECTED EVEN IN A HEALTHY PERSON SO SOMEONE WITH AN ILLNESS OF THE BRAIN WOULD BE AFFECTED MORE.{HOPE THAT SOUNDS OKAY?**
    JOY
     
  7. Canadian Joanne

    Canadian Joanne Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 8, 2005
    16,103
    Toronto, Canada
    Spiggy,
    General anesthesia is very hard on elderly people in general but particularly so in AD sufferers. My mother has cataracts but we have decided not to do anything about it as she would require the general anesthesia & she's so bad already it would only make her worse.

    In my personal experience, hospital is a hugely difficult place for an AD patient to be. My mother went into hospital on a form 1 (sectioned) walking and feeding herself. Within 2 weeks those abilities were gone. She went in the end of September, my husband & I left on a trip the begining of October for a week, returning the middle of the month. She was in a wheelchair when we got back, being spoonfed. The trauma of all the changes, from the nursing home to emergency to special care psychiatric (she was in restraints a lot due to her violence) and then to the geriatric psychiatric ward within 8 days did enormous damage. She's never recovered from it.

    I've very glad you posted that beautiful picture. And I'm glad your granny got to see her great-granddaughter.

    Joanne
     
  8. Tender Face

    Tender Face Account Closed

    Mar 14, 2006
    5,379
    NW England
    Dear Spiggy, not much help I'm afraid with your specific questions ... only anecdotal stuff that my mother had a general anaesthesia last year (pre-diagnosis) for a fairly routine investigative procedure and the reaction was - well - not good ..... nearly three years ago she had a hip replacement and her behaviour and demeanour afterwards was - well - not good ...... (at that time dementia had not been mooted.....but now I wonder .... ..... has made me wonder from what I've read here if the amount of surgery and associated anaesthesia mum has had previously has contributed to her current condition????) I digress....

    Point of this post was to thank you for that wonderful photograph .... have viewed it a few times and read your post and every time it brings a tear ..... love and trust just shines out of it ........

    You are doing remarkably well looking out for both your granny and your mum .....
    Hope you are looking out 'on behalf of' yourself too and that you will find the support of TP as beneficial for yourself as for your mum and granny,

    Love, Karen, x
     

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