My Mom and Dad
Dorothy Elizabeth Witherspoon Price and husband Orval Price
Click on the line above to learn more about them.
To see Dorothy's memorial page click here.
To see Orval's memorial page click here.
What My Family and I Learned From Mom and Dad Having Alzheimer’s
Helpful Tips - A Survival Guide
1. It is really important to realize that you positively cannot reason with a person that has Alzheimer’s or dementia. There is no way. Even the doctors would forget and try to reason with them to no avail. The best thing to do is change the subject or get them doing something else. As an example, Daddy would try to leave the house to go “home” even though he was in his home. There was no persuading him he wasn’t already home and that he shouldn’t leave and wander off somewhere. He even got belligerent a few times with the caregiver. We just had to get him occupied with something else, if possible. My husband usually got the call late at night to go over and try to get Daddy distracted and settled down. It could take hours. We all really felt bad he had to do that. He had to go to work the next day.
2. Some Alzheimer’s patients like my dad used to get a lot worse when the sun goes down. Some people call that Sundown Syndrome. Be aware that this may happen. The patient may become more confused and agitated then.
3. As the child you will need to get a Power of Attorney to take care of their needs. You will probably need to get a Guardianship over your parent or parents. In our case we got the power of attorney from our folks, but they refused the Guardianship which we desperately needed. We had to hire 2 attorneys and go to court to get that done. As long as the parent doesn’t have a Guardianship after being declared incompetent, you or others can’t make them do anything including getting desperately needed medical care or care of their finances if they are refusing your help. Sometimes things may get really difficult before the Guardianship can be obtained, if it is contested like ours was.
We were really dreading going into court with them and telling all the illogical, worrisome things they had been doing right to their faces. Thankfully, they refused to show up so it went through smoothly after months of work.
4. Know it may be very difficult to find good caregivers or a nursing home and it will probably cost you a fortune unless they have no assets. In that case you may be able to get them into a nursing home with Medicaid paying the bill. Even if they are in a nursing home you and other family members will need to keep a very close watch on them to be sure they are getting the care they need.
5. It will be a lot worse if both parents have it at the same time, like our folks did. This is true on many levels from the double amount of care giving needed later to the bad influence they were having on each other earlier, and lower level of their daily living skills. If just one had been affected the healthy parent could have helped a lot with daily life for the couple in general.
6. If your parent has to be out of their home and somewhere else their dementia will probably be a lot worse.
7. At this time, don't expect too much from Alzheimer's medications. The television makes them sound good. We tried a number of them and honestly couldn't tell they did a thing. It was expensive and disappointing. They are worth trying, however, just to see what they do.
8. If possible, have some security cameras in the house to watch the caregivers and your folks. Question everything. Are your parent's eating as they should? Are they getting their medicine or are the caregivers taking them. My mother was on a lot of narcotic pain medication for a hip problem and she never seemed to be medicated nearly enough. We kept wondering if she or the caregiver was getting some or all the medication. One caregiver told me she didn't think the other caregiver was feeding daddy nearly enough and pointed out some specific examples. For awhile it was pretty apparent one of the caregivers was stealing some of the food. It was was always something upsetting or worrisome going on there.
9. If should be obvious, but don't let your affected parent drive, even though they are having a fit to do it. They could kill someone or a whole family or injure them badly. There could be huge lawsuits brought as well. Daddy was furious for several months after we took his car keys and then the car, but it had to be done. We had his driver's license cancelled as well. Mom was upset we weren't letting Daddy drive but seemed to get over it pretty fast.
Another lady I heard of kept letting her husband with Alzheimer's drive and he was an alcoholic to boot. He kept getting stopped for DUI's. Thank God he didn't hurt or kill someone but it was extremely bad judgment on the woman's part who was afraid to tell her husband NO and take away his truck keys. However, a relative said if she did that he would have just driven the lawn mower or tractor to the liquor store. They could not afford a care giver when the lady was at work so he was bound to get in trouble. The unhappy ending to this story: the man, who was disabled, was left alone and the house caught on fire and he was killed. Supervision of the patient and good judgment on the family's part are a must!
10. It will be really helpful if there is more than one relative to be there in town and help out managing things. It took all four of us (myself, my sister, and both our husbands), 2 full time caregiver's, home health, and later hospice to get the job done. Also, my brother in law is an attorney which was a really big help.
11. Be prepared for your parent to have to wear adult diapers, be bathed, and dressed. They may have to be fed. Our parents not only forgot to bathe on their own, they forgot how to bathe--turn the water on, etc. Anything you tell your parent they will probably be forgotten 5 minutes later.
12. It can become a very serious problem if you parent is living alone and they are poorly managing a more than small estate. They may be easily duped into doing things with their money that are really bad. The parent may not do anything you ask them to do or not do, but do anything a stranger asks them to do. I am serious. That happened to us. One time an unknown person called them and told mom or dad to mail in of number of stock certificates to him. They did and the stocks were never seen again. It can be maddening and dangerous.
13. I told them every day to wait until I got off work at noon and let me help them with their mail, bookkeeping, and money management. Every day it was the same story--they forgot. I had to redo things. One time they went to the a bank that wasn't theirs. Then daddy started cancelling utilities and life insurance policies he had had most of his life. That had to be reversed.
14. The folks couldn't remember if the renters were paying any rent. They weren't. Then next thing we knew the renters were using the cabin and farm like their own and daddy was afraid of them. We're not sure what they said to daddy except they probably spoke harshly to him, threatened him, or roughed him up. We stopped that right away. We figured the next thing we knew, they probably would have moved right into their house and taken over everything. We don't think they realized the folks had children.
15. Meals can be a huge problem if your parent or parents are living alone. Before we could get control of the situation with the guardianship daddy was driving the car twice a day to Burger King and getting 2 small burgers and fries for them to eat. They had no vegetables or other foods in their diet. To get to Burger King daddy had to turn left onto a 4 lane (no traffic light) and then through a dangerous 4 way stop. This went on for several years, if you can believe that!
16. I think the only positive thing about it all, is that I believe they are no longer suffering and are now together in heaven with their friends and relatives that are there, and with the Lord in an incredible place where there is no more suffering. They are in their heavenly bodies now. That at least, is a relief. We look forward to seeing them again some day in heaven.
Alzheimer's Information Part 1