Comment from Maureen
Comment from Brian
Think about a situation in your life that you have complete control over and how you might feel if that control was suddenly disappearing. Your mother-in-law’s brain is failing and she cannot do the things she used to do and this is frustrating for her.
This is one of those situations where she is lashing out because she knows she may be losing the control. Using bathing and grooming as examples as there are a few opportunities to help your mother-in-law feel in control during these situations.
First, are you following “her” routine, that she is used too? If she always bathed twice a week-stick to it as much as possible. If she bathed in the evening before bed-keep the time the same. Give her simple choices, such as “Mom, would you like to bathe now or after dinner?”
Involve her in the process as much as possible and try to let her still make choices. You may also have to break these tasks into small steps, giving cues and clues along the way. Be as descriptive as possible, so she knows what is coming next.
Another technique that caregivers use is to create a diversion or reward once the task is completed. So when she refuses to bathe next time, try giving a reason or reward, such as a favorite activity or favorite meal etc.
Try to emulate safety, support and reassurance during these difficult tasks; just your attitude and demeanor could positively impact the situation. Thanks for caring, Jodi.
Comment from Carol S
Comment from Christie
Comment from jackie
One is frustration because of things that were once easy that they can no longer do. Because the brain isn’t functioning normally, the one way she can communicate her wishes is by screaming during bathing for example. I commend you for changing your approach to a sponge bath rather than the shower, this is an excellent idea.
A few other techniques include understanding her routines and preferences. When did she normally bathe? What time of day? How often? Was it a bath or a shower?
Sticking to familiar routines and preferences will go a long way. Try to keep her involved in the process, by giving her simple choices (Do you want to bathe now or after dinner?), and be descriptive in your cues throughout the process.
If she can’t tell you directly, talk to the family or look for clues around the house for conversation topics.
And as hard as it is, I think you should keep visiting. You represent love, support and safety and certainty. She will eventually feel those things, but right now, it’s all new.
Comment from rachael
We start out with 10-15,000 taste buds, but they decrease and lose mass with age. But the sweet taste is the first taste we were exposed too and it’s the last taste to diminish, which is why this is a common occurrence.
The sense of smell can also impact taste as well, and that sense declines with age too. Again, I think it’s important to talk to the doctor about the side effects, but I think it’s safe to say that too many sweets may impact a person’s health.
What kind of help do you have in your caregiving situation? (All answers are anonymous).
None, I do it all myself
Volunteers from church or community.
Paid professional caregiver
For example, if she is diagnosed with a type of dementia, her living alone in a home may not be safe, so you will need to consider a caregiver to help her. With these situations, it will be important to preserve her dignity, because as you mentioned, she is a proud woman.
Try to keep her involved and in control as much as possible, which it sounds like you are doing. So next time she jokes about her memory, take the opportunity to say something like “So you think your memory is bad? Why do you say that? You have always taken such good care of your health, so what are you going to do about this memory issue? I could help you make a call if you would like.”
Good luck to you, Licia.
Comment from Fran
Comment from Shamrock P Hall
When you think of activities, we instantly think of “fun” or entertainment. Think of activities as a way to help him feel relevant and contributing to the day or task.
Activities could be as simple as folding clothes or taking out the garbage or sanding some woodwork. Consider his past occupation and determine if there is a task you can have him help with.
For example, if he was a banker, maybe he could balance a checkbook or review spreadsheets/tables? You don’t always have to try something new, but you may find something new that he could become interested in.
When he drives, where does he go or does he just like to drive? Is he interested in cars or certain locations? Based on some of these answers, maybe there is a new book/project/activity opportunity. Involve the family and come up with some creative ways to help your grandfather stay engaged in a meaningful life.
Comment from Jane
Comment from Sammie
I also really like your approach with the different activities you are trying with her. Using everyday activities that she is used to or has done her whole life are a way to help her feel as if she is contributing and relevant to the world and day. I would keep doing these types of activities and try to keep incorporating new ideas.
To help her feel more at home, I would consider modifying her room or surroundings with some of her furniture, pictures, dishes, towels etc…things that would remind her of home and are familiar. This could be something she might help you with as well, which again is a great activity.
I would also reflect back on what her routine was at home prior to moving with you and try to keep it similar as well as incorporate activities she used to do at home. Think of things like organizing a drawer or cutting coupons. Is there a new job in your household that she could learn and contribute to?
What did she like to do in the past? Hobbies? Can you incorporate a few of those activities into the week or weekend? You are doing a great job Glenda and on the right path. Good luck.
Comment from Anna
First, I want you to think about ACT. ACT stands for Assess, Consider and Talk. It’s an approach to use when trying to make a plan for the future. So with your father, ask him to “Assess” his current living situation, stating what is important to him, what does he like to do at home, and what would be hard to give up. Just getting him to think about this from his perspective, will go a long way.
You should do the same as his daughter, and once you have both completed your assessment you can consider the options and talk it out.
Here are a few lines to try: “I know we want the best for each other; let’s talk about options that will work for both.” “I know you want to remain home for as long as possible, but I want you to be safe.” Good luck, Kay.
Comment from Harry