Experience with dementia?
September 28, 2005 1:21 PM Subscribe
Advice on dealing with a relative with dementia?
posted by justonegirl to human relations (20 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Some of you might remember my earlier question about relocating 1800 miles to be with my grandmother in her final months (and thanks again to the kind souls who responded). Well, I did it -- and thanks to an unusual turn of events at work, it wasn't nearly as big of a leap as I imagined. Now, I'm down here in Texas, and my grandma is much worse off mentally than I realized.
Yesterday, my first full day in town, I spent 6 1/2 hours with her. She recognized me, though she spent a lot of time introducing me to people as her daughter and asking me things like "how's your son?" (I'm childless.) Those kinds of things I can deal with.
What's harder is how to deal with and respond to the nonsense that comes out of her mouth. Some of it is just off-the-wall, untrue stuff (like her rambling stories about "those boys" who keep breaking into her room and touching her dress) and some is literally gibberish, like she is getting tongue-tied and stumbling over words and forgetting things mid-sentence. She stares at me and seems to expect me to understand. Yet, she's feisty enough not to appreciate me nodding my head and saying "okay" or similar responses. Sometimes she touches my face and tells me I'm beautiful and an angel. Other times her eyes narrow and she tells me I'm just like my father (believe me, not a compliment in her mind). She's bound and determined that we're going to "pack up and go" -- to her old apartment, to the store to get some bread, or to some destination she can't articulate, though we will never actually be able to take her anywhere. Getting her to remain in her wheelchair or in bed is a constant struggle that never ends (evidently, restraints are now illegal, even when it would harm the patient to try to stand). She demands money constantly to tip the sneaky aides and custodians who "help her" with stuff -- in other words, who do their job. She's also very close to deaf, thanks to the nursing home that's lost her hearing aids and won't replace them, so it doesn't help that she hears probably 10% of what I say to her and comprehends maybe 10% of that. Finally, she mumbles, so I can hardly hear her.
I realize this comes across more as a vent than a question, but I'm just seeking advice on (a) how to deal with my grandma's failing mental faculties, and (b) how to deal with the stress of being with her when it's pretty much a wholly unpleasant experience. Any suggestions are more than welcome.