No long term memory either - has anyone else dealt with this?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by helen_m_b, Apr 26, 2016.

  1. helen_m_b

    helen_m_b Registered User

    Apr 25, 2016
    Hi - my first post!

    I have a 91 yo father with Alzheimer's which is of course tough but what I find hard to deal with is his total lack of memory. He doesn't remember anything much and has no long term memory either, this makes it very difficult when I visit him. I have recently made the decision to find permanent residential care for him (he has been in the CH since last Thurs) as my 90 yo mother just couldn't cope with him at home even with the assistance of carers.

    Just wondering if the long term memory loss is something that anyone else has come across and if they'd found any things that worked for them. When I visit Dad everyday in the CH all I spend my time with him doing is explaining why he is where he is and that this is where he lives now. As I don't have anything else to talk to him about as he doesn't remember any events (or recognise anyone - including himself - in photos) this constant pleading to leave is nigh on impossible to deflect. I assume that as he recognises me (but not my name) he associates me with his old home but as all he did there was watch the TV I feel that there is so much more for him in the CH. Dad's speech is much affected too by his Alzheimer's so gets frustrated alot as he can't say what he wants to - I so feel for him and want to make his life as calm and stress free as possible.

    Any advice would be much appreciated.
  2. Onlyme

    Onlyme Registered User

    Apr 5, 2010
    Mum had atypical dementia. Her long term memory was the first to show holes, then her short term. She thought any photos of family were her, forgot she had ever been married, didn't know I was her daughter but thought I was a school friend. She did know my name right up until the end but not my relationship to her. In the last few weeks if her life she would say a few words but we couldn't work out what she was saying.
  3. Aisling

    Aisling Registered User

    Dec 5, 2015
    Welcome to TP. It is a dreadful disease. Sorry to be blunt with you but there is no point in trying to explain things to your Dad as he does not understand. Memory is so difficult. My OH remembers bit from long ago. Short term memory is gone too. Yes he gets frustrated as well. Leaving or going home is common occurance. . I hope you can get long term care for him soon as obviously he needs it. Lord help your Mum too. They are lucky to have you to look out for them. The main thing in my opinion is to get the best care you can and in time your Dad will become content. I live in Ireland and don't understand your system but other TPs will be able to give you more advice.

    Just an idea, maybe visiting him everyday is not giving him enough time to settle.

    Sending loads of support.

  4. Witzend

    Witzend Registered User

    Aug 29, 2007
    SW London
    Someone likened the memory in dementia to bookshelves. The newest memories are on the top shelf, so to speak, the oldest at the bottom. As dementia progresses, the 'shelves' of memories are gradually (or maybe quickly) swept away, starting at the top. So by the time dementia is advanced presumably this means that the old ones will go, too.

    I know that in her final year or two my mother could not apparently remember anything even about her early life. Photos meant nothing to her, not even really old ones, e.g. of my father in his wartime naval uniform. Though a few years previously she'd often thought I was her sister, and spoke about needing to go and see her (long dead) parents. At that point I think she was back in the 1930s - 40s. Sometimes she would think she still had young children to care for - she had no notion that we were all long grown up.
    But even all this disappeared in the final stages.
  5. Pinkys

    Pinkys Registered User

    Nov 13, 2014
    South of England
    My MiL has what I think of as atypical dementia, though it is not unique, of course. She does not seem to remember what has happened in the past, but mainly, she has no interest in it or anything else. No interest in conversation, in visitors, in her granddaughter. She sits in bed watching TV, though she is mobile and could take part in everything on offer. (In a CH) Our visits seem to trigger some thing about wanting to go home, but once that has been dealt with 'Not today' she loses interest in us and says we can go. Or rather she says things which indicate that. 'I have finished' or 'that's over'.
    She had just had an assessment renewal of the DoL order, and the SW said she seemed to have no interest going home particularly, and threw him out after 5 mins.

    So I guess what I'm saying is that every person is different.

    I agree. Every day may be too often. My MiL is very settled without us.
  6. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    Hi there
    This leaflet on compassionate communication is very useful - I found it very hard to master but I stuck it on my fridge to remind me every day and it really does work

    Do have a look at it

    To be honest I don't think it matters at all what you talk about or if he forgets or if he appears not to understand or 'link' with it, what matters is that you are there with him, that you care about and that he feels loved and all that shines through from your post. If you want to then just take in old photos, books of pics of places where he might have lived or enjoyed being, just as conversation aids really, even just something to do together, perhaps a game of supported cards just spending time together is the best thing xxxxxxxxxxx
  7. Vera's den

    Vera's den Registered User

    Feb 3, 2016

    I found the bookshelf analogy very helpful. I'm not computer literate so can't post a link but should anyone want to google it,it's called The bookshelf model of memory storage. Maybe someone more able than myself will post a link.
  8. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    Possibly the one you are thinking of is this one: BOOKSHELF MODEL.pdf
    I like this one better
  9. grumpy otter

    grumpy otter Registered User

    Apr 26, 2016
    My mother's long-term memory comes and goes. The worst times are when she forgets my brother and sister are both dead (over 30 years ago) and wants them to come visit. When these times happen, i just play along with whatever it is she wants (Oh, I think they are coming tomorrow!) and she remembers on her own, usually, later. And she doesn't remember that I lied because her short-term memory is also poor.

    Other times, she remembers all the past very well.

    This disease is strange, with no pattern. I just try to go with the flow.
  10. Vera's den

    Vera's den Registered User

    Feb 3, 2016
  11. Vera's den

    Vera's den Registered User

    Feb 3, 2016
  12. helen_m_b

    helen_m_b Registered User

    Apr 25, 2016
    Thanks to everyone :) who has posted advice, all of which have been very helpful.

    I have just come back from a short visit to Dad now, today he seems brighter but still asking "when he can get away from here", all I can do is just reassure him and tell him that this is what he'd asked me to do for him a few years ago and that he is somewhere nice and most importantly - safe.

    Hearing that I'm not alone in dealing with the challenges life presents is always a comfort so again thanks everyone. X
  13. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    I used to take large books with lots of big clear photos (borrowed from the library) and I'd sit turning the pages, talking about what we could both physically see. Mum particularly liked craft books with pictures of babies in bonnets :)

    She didn't often respond, but seemed content just to have me sitting talking next to her. It was way better than trying to rack my brain for 'news'.
  14. helen_m_b

    helen_m_b Registered User

    Apr 25, 2016
    Chemmy thanks for that suggestion I'll swing by the library tomorrow and have a look for something suitable. He likes going out for a drive in the car for the views so landscapes might do the trick, wish I'd thought of this before, doh!
  15. Chemmy

    Chemmy Registered User

    Nov 7, 2011
    The 'I want to leave/go home' comments are very common. When someone explained to me that what it can mean is that they sense they're not well and they want to go back to how they used to be - and not to an actual place - it all started to make sense.

    Same as the tendency to ask to see/call you their mum. It seems to be a deeply ingrained memory that if their mum is there, she will comfort them and make everything better.
  16. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    I do, as well. Very good analogy!
  17. looviloo

    looviloo Registered User

    May 3, 2015
    The memory issues can be so odd, can't they? My dad's memory is unpredictable, both short and long term. I no longer ask him questions that rely on his memory (such as what he ate for lunch) because I never know if he'll be able to answer me. Sometimes he'll describe events from his youth in minute detail, and then other times he'll think my mum was his sister, or forget where he lived growing up.

    I visited dad yesterday and the thorny issue of "I want to go home" came up. I manage to steer the conversation away from it, and later we were looking at photos, including one of the home I assumed he'd been referring to. But he didn't recognise it. So strange and sad.

    I also like the bookshelf analogy for memory, although in my dad's case someone keep taking the books and putting them back at random!!!
  18. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    When mum wanted "to go home" I asked her about her home and it was obvious that she did not mean the home that she had moved there from and where she had lived alone - she meant her childhood home where "all my friends and family (now all dead many years ago) are waiting for me"
    I have been told that what she really meant was that she wanted to go back to a time and place where she didnt feel confused, but knew everyone and felt safe.
  19. Ginnykk5

    Ginnykk5 Registered User

    Jan 6, 2015
    Hemel Hempstead
    My dad is 95 and has severe dementia , he remembers very little of his past or present. People say they remember the past, mine doesn't. He lives in a 3 minuet memory.
    I watched the video of the bookcase it makes sense, except for one thing.
    My dad when normal had the emotional depth of a teaspoon. he was completely self orientated . So is there any emotion in side to remember?
    Mine lives at his home, i live with him so he is content in his tiny world. His problem at the moment is an itchy skin which fills his world.
    good luck

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