PLEASE NOTE: Even though this blog is now dormant there are many useful, insightful posts. Scroll back from the end or forward from the beginning. Also, check out my writer's blog. Periodically I will add posts here if they provide additional information about living well with Dementia / Alzheimer's Disease.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Good Advice, Late in Coming & Easier Said ...

I subscribe to a number of memory care facilities e-mail blasts and on line support. (I am in the process of un-subscribing to many of them as they have become irrelevant.)
The following came in today and it did make me feel a little guilty. If I had read this prior to Gregory's psychotic episode would I have acted differently? Was I too demanding of Gregory with expectations for self-help set too high for his abilities? 
But guilt aside, I don't think so if only because most often he would figure out what to do without my help allowing him to maintain a sense of independence. Also, the incidence of his getting overwhelmed and upset and out of touch had increased exponentially over his last few weeks at home. He needed constant care and attention and often refused that care and attention.
However, it does make one think... It also makes it seem easier than it sounds.
Does your loved one ever seem to "lose it" over nothing? Overreactions to otherwise ordinary requests or events -- crying, cursing, pacing, or lashing out physically or verbally -- are called "catastrophic reactions." They can befall anyone with dementia and can be upsetting, even frightening, to a caregiver. One common cause: too many competing stimuli. If a room is noisy and the person is feeling rushed or is dealing with other strong emotions (embarrassment, frustration), and then tension spills into an argument, the result can be assorted behaviors that overwhelm the person and his or her ability to react more typically. Hard as it may be for you to stay calm, it really helps. If you can guess the trigger, remove it: Change the subject, change the activity, turn off the radio. If the person is particularly worked up and it's safe to leave him or her alone for a bit, do so. When things seem slightly calmer, forget it happened and then distract your loved one with a favorite activity or snack.
And then to end of a frightening note, I was talking to the husband of the daughter of my step Aunt Elaine. He is a rabbi and shared that in his congregation, a woman with Alzheimer's stabbed her husband to death with a kitchen knife, thinking he was an intruder in their home. Not to lighten the horror of it, how do you follow that one with a favorite activity or snack.

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