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Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia Message Board

Alzheimer's Disease & Dementia Board Index

Rellie, I know and understand exactly where you are!! My Dad had Vascular Dementia and my Mom had Alzheimer (at the same time)... YES!! I get it!! It is difficult enough with one but two at a time is overwhelming at best. Even when you "understand" the disease it is so very difficult to understand that the parents you loved, trusted, and looked up to are acting the way they do because of the disease. It is so beyond understanding, yet we don't have a choice but to grasp that our parents are not the people they were when we were younger and dependent on them.

As you, my Dad was always happy. He was my rock and the person I knew I could always trust to be there for me. He was my idol and a highly respected research superintendent. To see him curled up in bed at noon sleeping, unable to walk, and agitated was truly difficult. Even worse was knowing that he was not there for me when I needed uplifting. As with you, my Mom was a tower of strength, good judgement, and extremely intelligent. She was the epitome of unconditional love. She became paranoid and unreasonable. Again, the worst was her mistrust of me which was a result of her paranoia and agitation. Yes, there is a selfish element there when it is our parents. I have worked with other patients and I can tell you it is totally different when it is YOUR parents. You and I had/have that times two which makes it 10 times worse because we don't have that other parent to lean on.

What got me through was a complete roll reversal. Where as I had always though of Mom and Dad as my support system, I realized that I was now THEIR support system. I was the one that could repay them for all the years they sacrificed for me. They watched over me when I was small and defenseless and in the end I had to do the same thing for them. They were the adult that made sure I got what I needed and I had to become the adult that gave them what they needed. They didn't always give me what I wanted but they always gave me what I needed.... and that is what I had to do for them.

As for Mum, she is giving you HER reality. It may or may not have anything to do with the truth or your truth but it is HER truth. The frontal lobe of her brain is damaged which is causing her to react the way she does to the imperfect input that her brain is receiving. She is only processing bits and pieces of the information that is available. She takes these bits and pieces, processes them through a damaged brain, and comes up with the best reality she can. If she misplaces something and doesn't remember, yet remembers a nurse or sibling being there, then that person had to have move, stolen, broken, or misplaced her item. In reality it was probably her but she has NO memory of that so logic tells her it's somebody else. She no longer has a filter which tells her what and what not to say. She will say inappropriate things about others when it comes in her mind, no matter who is there. Each behavior that seems so bizarre can be explain related to the damaged brain Mum is having to deal with. So please know that what she says and does is not intentional damage to you or others. It is her effort to survive in a world that is clouded the brain damage that is dementia. You also have to remember that she is doing the best she can.

The first rule of Alzheimer's is don't argue. Mum's reality is as real to her as yours is to you. You will not convince her differently. It is better to validate her feelings, not the action she suspects but her feelings about the situation, and then assure her that you are and will work with her to find a resolution. If Mom was angry with me, I would frequently just say... "I'm sorry you feel that way Mom, I will do better next time!" That seemed to satisfy. As with us all they are just looking for validation and support. Unless it is a life threatening moment, I never argued. Instead I would validate, give hope, and the distract. Dad was easy. Sorry you feel that way Dad, We will work on getting that corrected, want some ice cream? Quantity was dependent on how upset he was. A bad incidence, I might just give him the carton and a spoon!!! If you an distract them to something pleasant for a few minutes, many times the traumatic moment will go away.

Most of all just know that each phase of this disease is jut that. It will pass and there will be something different to deal with... until it is over. At that point you will miss them but not the disease and your memories will eventually go back to the good times which will overshadow the tough times. So make the best of what you have now. Create moment of joy with your parents and don't make it all about what they don't have. Focus on what they do have left and how you can enjoy that.

Love, Deb

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