treatment/meds for vascular dementia

Discussion in 'ARCHIVE FORUM: Support discussions' started by michelle81, Jul 16, 2007.

  1. michelle81

    michelle81 Registered User

    Jul 16, 2007
    4
    arizona
    Hello,

    My grandma had a stroke about 1 1/2 years ago that affected her cognitively. She's 82 years old and in great shape physically. She lives by herself and is able to function okay. The stroke has affected her ability to deal with numbers (paying bills, etc) and some other cognitive thinking. She has gotten a lot better with time but we have been noticing that she is hallucinating a lot more lately.

    She will think that someone is living with her and she has to take care of them. She will get worried because they have not eaten breakfast or lunch and she doesn't know where they are. She will think that my mom or sister spent the night. This is seeming to get worse instead of better like some of her other symptoms are. My mom is usually able to help her understand that she is just imagining this and my grandma realized that she "dreams" people are there. It's just getting frustrating for her because she is having a harder time realizing these people aren't really there.

    Is there any treatment for this? I have been looking online and am assuming she has vascular dementia. Are there any types of medications that will help her think clearer and stop her hallucinations? I've seen some suggestions for antipsychotics but was hoping that someone with real-life experience with this could give me some advice. It always helps to hear advice from someone who has been in a similar situation!

    Any input would be appreciated! Thanks!
     
  2. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,578
    Kent
    Hello Michelle,

    Welcome to TP.

    I`m sorry you are so worried about your grandma. She seems to be doing very well, still living by herself, following a stroke, at her age.

    No-one on TP has the medical skills to diagnose your grandma`s condition, you really need to consult her GP. There are many on TP whose family members exhibit similar symptoms and behaviours, but they can have many causes.

    Your mother, who I presume is next of kin, would be able to discuss your worries with your grandma`s GP. Can I suggest she writes down all her concerns, so she doesn`t miss anything out.

    Please keep posting on TP. It is an excellent source of support.
     
  3. michelle81

    michelle81 Registered User

    Jul 16, 2007
    4
    arizona
    Thanks for your reply. I know that no one is qualified to give medical advise but I was hoping that some might be in a similar situation and could tell me what has worked for them.
    My grandma is doing well but that is only because my mom helps her so much. I don't think she would be able to live by herself if my mom wasn't so involved. My mom is tired and so I was just trying to find some info that she could take to her GP to discuss some options.
    I don't want these hallucinations to get so bad that she is not able to live by herself. Plus, she was a very independent lady before this and it's been hard on her because she knows that she is not acting normal anymore. If there is anything that will help, I would love for her to be able to talk about it with her GP.

    Thanks!
     
  4. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,578
    Kent
    Dear Michelle.

    It really is distressing watching anyone, especially someone you love, struggling with the effects of an illness.

    Your grandma is obviously well loved and supported by you and your mother, and the best you can do is get her checked out ASAP. If she can be helped by medication, it will be better if it is sooner rather than later.

    Take care xx
     
  5. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    10,856
    Wigan, Lancs
    Hi Michelle,

    Welcome to TP.

    I notice you are in Arizona. Is your grandma also in the US?

    Have you looked at the fact sheets (see i in the top left hand corner of the screen)? These may be of some help in describing the different medications available, but which ones will/can be presribed will be different in the US (I think).

    Wherever your Grandma is, as Sylvia says you will need a formal diagnosis by her GP/physician before she can be prescribed anything.

    Keep us posted.
     
  6. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    39,439
    Hi Michelle - welcome to TP

    My mother has had several strokes and is now in a nursing home.

    I wonder whether these are true hallucinations (i.e. she sees someone who isn't there) or are rather confabulations made up to make sense of a confusing situation. My mother occasionally comes up with stories which have small elements of truth, but seem to be more about trying to make logical connections when there are bits of your life that make no sense. E.g. If somethings not where you believe you left it, then someone must have moved it. Also, my mother seems to spend at least part of her time in what I describe as "waking dreams", and I'm not sure if that's because dhe does spend a lot of her time sleeping, her medication, or something to do with impaired blood flow to the brain. Probably a combination of all of them.

    My point being, although there may be suitable meds for true hallucinations, I do not believe there is anything to deal with this hightened "fantasy life" that she experiences.

    Jennifer
     
  7. Kayla

    Kayla Registered User

    May 14, 2006
    621
    Kent
    Dear Michelle,
    My Mum had Vascular Dementia and her hallucinations became quite distressing for her, especially as she completely lost track of time. Medication did help, but it needs to be taken correctly and Mum got in a complete muddle all the time, even with an automatic pill dispenser and me ringing her up several times a day.
    The routine of a Care Home and the company of staff and residents seemed to help her more than anything, but she was very unsteady on her feet and broke her hip. After this she had to go into a Nursing Home. My Mum had Rheumatoid Arthritis which I think caused as many, or more problems than the dementia.
    Medication wil only help if you can make sure it is taken correctly, but Mum was quite settled later on in the Nursing Home until she died of an unrelated heart attack.
    Kayla
     
  8. Nebiroth

    Nebiroth Registered User

    Aug 20, 2006
    3,518
    It sounds more like delusions than hallucinations.

    Delusions are false beliefs - for example, believing that someone has stayed over the night or that someone is living in the house.

    A hallucination would be actually seeing or hearing the non-existant people.

    Delusions are, we have found, often formed around a grain of truth like an old memory. The person then constructs a story around this in order to try and make sense of what is happening. I believe this is referred to by professionals as "confabulation". They will either ignore, reject or flatly deny any evidence to the contrary because this is less painful than accepting the fact that their perceptions and memories aren't "real".

    If the delusions are harmless, then it is better to "go along" with them if possible, because trying to do otherwise only causes everyone distress. Someone with dementia will most probably not be open to reason and rational argument. If you offer evidence contrary to the belief they will make something up to explain it away. The more you argue the harder they will cling onto their "reality".

    The classic is thinking things are being stolen. The person puts something away, often in bizarre and inappropriate places. They then forget this. They can't find what they want. As they can't possibly have forgotten they put it away, or that it would be put away somewhere silly (like clothes in the fridge), the only explanation is that "someone" has moved the things or stolen them. This explanation will be clung to, even if the person lives alone, because the idea that someone is sneaking in unobserved to "steal" their underwear makes more "sense".

    We endlessly hear stories from Dad about how he walked along the Great Wall in China, used to work on a Thames leisure cruiser, fought in Canada against the French...etc etc. It is all obvious nonsense, but if you point this out you just get "I know I am right, you can't tell me otherwise" etc (usually shouted). So we just say "oh that was nice"
     
  9. michelle81

    michelle81 Registered User

    Jul 16, 2007
    4
    arizona
    Thank you all!

    Yes, she does live in Arizona also. This was the only forum I could find that was very active and you all seemed nice so that's why I posted here. Plus, I love the UK. My grandma actually took me there as a graduation present 8 years ago. I loved it!

    She does actually see the people in her house. They talk to her and she talks back. My mom and sister have actually slept in bed with her a few time (in her mind). They look like real people and it's really starting to bother her because she can't tell if they are real or not. She also does the hidding/misplacing thing. She'll say that someone has been going thru her things. She lost her insurance card the other day. I found it in her jewlery drawer.

    Thanks for the info on the factsheets. There's some good info on there to be able to take to her doctor.
     
  10. sue38

    sue38 Registered User

    Mar 6, 2007
    10,856
    Wigan, Lancs
    Hi Michelle,

    I didn't mean to imply that you were any less welcome because you and your grandma are not in the UK. It's just that it helps to know where you are in the world as the treatment of dementia seems to vary from country to country. I understand that in the US there is a possibility of a patient being presribed both Aricept type drugs and Ebixa at the same time, as there is some evidence that this is a more effective treatment. This does not happen in the UK yet (I think).

    Thankyou for the compliments about TP and the UK. You wouldn't love the UK right now, it is cold and pouring with rain (well where I am anyway!).

    Keep us posted about your grandma.
     
  11. Margaret W

    Margaret W Registered User

    Apr 28, 2007
    3,725
    North Derbyshire
    Hi Michelle

    (I never know what to put in the title!)

    My mum has done all of those things you describe, seeing people who aren;t there, talking to them, even getting cross with them when they don't resond, one was my dad, she left notes for him (he died 3 years ago), and wanted me to speak to him on the phone.

    But it was not vascular dementia, as I imagined it might be (i.e tiny strokes), but Alzheimers as a result of the brain shrinking.

    That said, I don't think it matters much what the cause is, cos the symptoms are the same.

    Keep cool, keep calm and get back to us.

    Love

    Margaret
     
  12. michelle81

    michelle81 Registered User

    Jul 16, 2007
    4
    arizona
    Sue - you didn't imply that at all! I didn't know that the meds would have different names so thanks for the heads up. :)

    I talked to my Grandma today and she was certain that several people were staying with her. She was concerned that she hadn't seen them today. I reminded her that no one is living with her and that she had probably had a dream. This usually helps and she will agree, but today she said "your mom always says that but I know these people were real. I would be able to tell if they weren't." So I just said ok and changed the subject.

    My mom is out of town right now and even though she calls my grandma every day, my grandma is still having a hard time with it. I'm hoping that she will calm down once my mom gets back. She's become so dependent on my mom that I think it's really hard for her to think of my mom not being 10 minutes away. My mom is taking her to the doctors when she gets back because of how much more often these hallucinations have been happening. I'm going to print out some of the info from this website so that she can take it with her.

    Thanks for listening!
     
  13. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006
    69,578
    Kent
    Hi Michelle,

    Stay with us. Even though we can`t give all the answers, we are here to support you and share your concerns.

    Let us know what the doctor says, when your mum takes your gran.

    Love xx
     
  14. Nell

    Nell Registered User

    Aug 9, 2005
    1,170
    Australia
    Dear Michelle,

    Has your Mum looked into what support your Gran might receive from the commmunity or the state? Sounds like she is doing a great job caring for your Gran, but she is tired as you say, and there could be hekp available to reduce the strain on her. If she hasn't alreadyexplored it, this could be a good option.

    I remember reading on TP not long ago that someone's loved one said he was coping fine at home - but the poster said that was only because his family were rushing around madly doing everything for him!! Many of us on TP can relate to this, so please give our best wishes to your Mum too. She might find TP useful too . . . .??
     

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