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Thread: Dementia

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    Dementia

    Serious question for everyone:

    I'm sure someone here has dealt with a family member or close friend with dementia. I just found out this afternoon that my grandpa has been diagnosed with it, and they don't expect him to live through the summer. I'm at a loss for how to deal with him talking about things that never happened, or him thinking that I'm his father while he's 6 years old. I've never seen anything like this before, so does anyone have any advice on what to do when these things pop up while I'm visiting? Do I just go along with what he's saying, whether it makes any sense or not? Do I try and talk about what actually is going on? Do I try and talk about other events that actually happened in his life? Any serious input on this is welcome.


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    Re: Dementia

    Let them talk. Ask open ended questions. Understand you will here some of the same stories over and over and over again.
    Does he have another disease as well? Dementia in itself I don't believe is fatal. I had a great-grandfather live for many years with it and my wife's grandmother recently passed away after living with it for 11 years


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    Re: Dementia

    Quote Originally Posted by wartknight View Post
    Let them talk. Ask open ended questions. Understand you will here some of the same stories over and over and over again.
    Does he have another disease as well? Dementia in itself I don't believe is fatal. I had a great-grandfather live for many years with it and my wife's grandmother recently passed away after living with it for 11 years
    He has severe depression, and tries to not eat because he says everything tastes bland. He has lost 3 pounds of his weight in a day before, and then will refuse to eat. It's the losing the motor skills that would do it (ie: walking, eating, drinking water, etc.).


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    Re: Dementia

    I'm so sorry to hear this and wish you and your family nothing but happy memories in the future.

    Some times you will want to let your grandpa take the lead. If his reality is that you are his dad, then perhaps that will be your lead. Arguing or trying to correct him might make you feel better for a bit, but it also could antagonize him.

    Knowing you have a limited time with him (however long that may be) will help you address and work through the questions you have now. What works for some might not for others. Take your cues from him, and I think down the road you'll feel better about it.



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    Re: Dementia

    Yeah, let them talk. When we visit my grandmother, I usually get the same three or four questions over and over. Just smile and keep giving the same answers. For them, it's nice to just have someone to talk to.


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    Re: Dementia

    Is it senile dementia? (I don't know if there are other forms)

    My grandpa had senile dementia before he passed and basically he just remembered everything up to some random point in history. He thought Jimmy Carter was president, for example. He didn't know who some of us younger family members were (mistook me for my older step brother) but I think he understood after being told who I was. Some days were harder than others, but that was to be expected. He generally had a pleasant temperament and still cared a great deal for everyone. I'm not sure if that was typical, but I hope things go as smoothly and as pleasantly as can be for your grandpa and the rest of your family.




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    Re: Dementia

    First off, sorry to hear that this has happened to your family. It will require patience and understanding on everybody's part. Lots of patience.

    My advice is cherish every moment you have. There will be flashes where it will seem like you are getting through and at least sharing your time together. Focus on these times.

    Pictures seem to help. Decorate his room/home with pictures from throughout his life. These can help trigger memories or at least make him feel more comfortable. You can use these for conversation starters also, and you can remind him of his life experiences and the people who have been important and close to him.

    Try and get in a pattern of visiting too, be it once or twice a week, and usually at the same time on the same day. See if he has times when he seems to have better awareness, if so, try and schedule for that time of day. Also, if you have a set time to go, you will go. It will hurt at times, and you will be tempted to just do something else, but years from now you will be glad that you made the effort.

    Hope that helps. You will feel better for trying to help out.


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    Re: Dementia

    Is your grandma still around? If so, she is going to need as much support as anyone.


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    Re: Dementia

    Quote Originally Posted by wartknight View Post
    Is your grandma still around? If so, she is going to need as much support as anyone.
    This is very true.




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    Re: Dementia

    Quote Originally Posted by wartknight View Post
    Is your grandma still around? If so, she is going to need as much support as anyone.
    Yea, she is. Today when we heard the news was the first time I had ever seen her cry, or physically need to lean on someone for fear of falling down. It was a rough afternoon.


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    Re: Dementia

    Quote Originally Posted by Cyclone62 View Post
    Serious question for everyone:

    I'm sure someone here has dealt with a family member or close friend with dementia. I just found out this afternoon that my grandpa has been diagnosed with it, and they don't expect him to live through the summer. I'm at a loss for how to deal with him talking about things that never happened, or him thinking that I'm his father while he's 6 years old. I've never seen anything like this before, so does anyone have any advice on what to do when these things pop up while I'm visiting? Do I just go along with what he's saying, whether it makes any sense or not? Do I try and talk about what actually is going on? Do I try and talk about other events that actually happened in his life? Any serious input on this is welcome.
    My grandpa died of it as did my great grandmother. I wasn't really allowed to see my great grandmother after she got to a point because I was only 15 when she died but up to that point I just kept answering the same questions and smiled, it made her happy and she kept giving me werthers over and over the whole time. It made her happy so I didn't correct her.

    My grandpa died when I was 25 and was diagnosed with dimentia when I was 22 so I was with him through the whole gauntlet. My advice is to just sit and let them talk about whatever they want. The only time we would correct him is if he forgot to eat and thought he already did and if he needed to take his meds. He was all over the place with his memory, some days he wouldn't remember who I was and the next day he remembered all the details of our days fishing together when he lived on Table Rock lake. Most of the time he liked to talk about fishing with me and his world war 2 stories and show me pictures of him and my grandma (she died of cancer when i was 10 in 1988). It was tough to watch him at times but still wouldn't trade those moments with him. He would get irritated sometimes if we tried to correct him but for the most part he was agreeable and go eat or take his meds. He was still the best cards player even after dimentia had set in and that was his favorite thing to do because he didn't have to try to remember lots of things but could focus on playing cards.

    My biggest piece of advice is to cherish every moment he is around. My grandpa was a huge influence in my life. The night he died I passed up on playing cards with him on a Saturday night to go to a party with my future wife and friends because I didn't think he would notice I didn't come. Obviously when I got the phone call I was devistated and it is still the biggest regret of my life, i still think about that decision every day of my life. Even though it is heartbreaking to see them in this stage go spend as much time with him as you can and do everything you can to make him comfortable and have a good time.

    I would give anything to go play cards and have a meaningless wandering conversation with my grandpa again.



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    Re: Dementia

    Open ended questions are great... you will be surprised what stories they still can tell and remember.

    Also, do your best to notice if they are getting frustrated with memory and performing daily tasks. It can be hard to tell how much help one actually needs at times.

    All my best to your family.



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    Re: Dementia

    Thanks for all the advice guys (and gals). I just didn't know how to deal with this as I've never seen anything like it before, and seeing someone like this is completely heartbreaking.

    EDIT: I'm also not looking for any kind of sympathy about this, so the 'best wishes' aren't necessary.


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    Re: Dementia

    Both grandparents on my dad's side had Alzheimer's. I'd have to agree with FarminCy. I didn't get to spend much time with them in their later years, and I regret it. The general thought circulating around the family was that going to see them might upset them because of their memory problems, but I think we got some bad advice there. Correcting them probably upset them.



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    Re: Dementia

    Lots of good info above. I would add: Don't make him re-live the hardships. My mom would asked why Dad didn't come by - even tho he had be gone for 10 years. Change the subject and move on. It amazed me some of the things she would remember from when she was young. Towards the end, her face would light up when I walked into the room, she knew she knew me, she just didn't know how. No matter how hard it is, go see him - it's gotta be intensely lonely and maybe scary for your grandfather.


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