Alzheimer’s caregiving, week 2

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Real Estate Agent with 406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) 10301213186
Alzheimer's caregiving, week two.

As mentioned last week, we have become the primary caregivers for my mother-in-law, who has Alzheimer's. While we seem to be settling into somewhat of a routine, I continue to learn things that work or don't work. Here are a few of my insights from week number two.

Adult temper tantrums.

I've witnessed a few temper tantrums this week. Evidently, the ability to rationally respond to frustrations disappears along with the brain cells for knowledge. The saddest part of this process is that, unlike a two-year old with a tantrum, people with Alzheimer's won't grow out of the behavior. In fact, I'm guessing it will get worse as time goes on. I'm hoping knowing what the triggers have been so far will help me over the next few weeks keep things relatively calm.

The need for help.

Last week, we had in-home companions come for four days, five hours per day. The five hours seems to be enough to allow me to get to my "real" office, do a few hours of work, get to the grocery store and run whatever other errands that I need to, and be back in time to take over again. And on Friday, I was also able to squeeze in a few hours of fun during my five hour hiatus. Getting help assisted me in maintaining some sense of "normalcy."

But the important thing was that this time didn't only help me, it helped my mother-in-law! She had a fresh, energetic and patient person ready to deal with her for a short period of time.  During the days she had company last week, one companion gave her a manicure and painted her finger nails. One of the companions found songs that she actually knew and was singing.  They colored and played "war." One of the ladies helped her rake the lawn, one of the only things we've found that truly keeps my mother-in-laws mind off her troubles. Another of the ladies sat on the edge of her bed, held her hand, and talked with her for hours. So help is crucial for both the caregivers AND the person with the Alzheimer's.

Finding things that calm her down.

Alzheimer's caregivingI'm sure all Alzheimer's sufferers react differently, but my mother-in-law gets frantic about not knowing details anymore. She wants to know what day, date and year it is. She wants to know where she is, and who I am, and why she's here and how long she's known me and where her husband is, and on and on.

So every morning I hand her a piece of paper with the main details on it. And all day long when she asks the same questions, I just direct her to the paper, where she can read the answers without my having to repeat them. This seems to help both of us. She is quiet for a few moments while reading through the details, and I don't have to say the same thing multiple times. The caregivers who came last week all thought that was a great idea, and it helped them as well.

If my mother-in-law is busy doing something that requires her focus, she is calm. She stayed quite calm when helping me prepare a mailing. I addressed the envelopes. Then she would put the document in the envelopes. When done with that, she put on the return mailing labels, and then the stamps. She took her time with each one to make sure it was done correctly. While I did have to provide a lot of confirmation that she was doing it right, she didn't ask any questions during the process. Other things that she loves to do are to rake the lawn and sweep the steps. Also, I found that if I played some songs on the piano she would quietly listen. Of course, I can't sit at the piano all day. Nor can we rake the lawn all day, but these have helped for bits of the time.

Getting work done.

This one remains tricky. I was able to prepare for and conduct two listing appointments last week. In addition, I conducted two showings, and resolved a few issues with a pending transaction. That being said, my level of involvement has seriously declined over the last few weeks. I have very little time to make uninterrupted phone calls or do anything that requires analysis or writing. If I don't do it in the morning before 6:30am or during my few hours in the office (so far, I was able to spend about 5 hours in total last week in the office which is just about nothing), it doesn't get done. So one of my biggest frustrations right now is that I am letting business grind to a slow halt. I truly do not want to do that, so I struggle with myself daily.

The nutty stuff.

Having my mother-in-law here continues to be an experience in staying alert! My week included catching my mother-in-law "washing" her coffee cup with Formula 409, I guess because it was on the counter near the sink. Also, watching her walking by someone else's wine glass and just picking it up and guzzling it. Having my mother-in-law thinking "getting your nightgown on for bed" meant putting it on on top of all her other clothes. Thinking a nice walk on a warm day would do her good, and having her stop every few feet to say, "have we done this before?" (few more steps) "have we done this before?" We didn't make it very far before I decided to turn around!

Summary

I'm learning a lot during this time with my mother-in-law. Getting help is critical, and we are lucky my mother-in-law has a long term care policy that will eventually kick in towards the costs of the home care. For people who cannot hire someone to come in, they HAVE to ask friends and family members for help. There is absolutely no way one person, or even two people, can handle the craziness of life with a person with any kind of dementia, unless they are able to escape and take care of their own lives from time to time. And that is all for now! I have to throw on some exercise clothes and try to get a little jumping jacks or something in before my mother-in-law awakes!!!!!

Originally published in thehousekat.com.
 
Posted by

 

Kat Palmiotti, The House Kat

Licensed Associate Broker, CBR®

Grand Lux Realty, Inc.

428 Main Street

Armonk, NY 10504 *

* still supporting Monroe NY, Orange & Rockland counties.

 

914-419-0270 (cell)

email: kat@thehousekat.com

www.thehousekat.com

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Rainmaker
3,269,936
Sally K. & David L. Hanson
EXP Realty 414-525-0563 - Brookfield, WI
WI Realtors - Luxury - Divorce

 Every care giver needs a break...glad you found a service that works...and if there is Senior Day Care in your area that may be another option....you are sooo right it is good for BOTH of you.  Another suggestion is if you go the Dollar Store...some people with this dread disease enjoy children's puzzle books and other sorts of games that one can play...a diversion and they enjoy it.  Bless you both.

Oct 30, 2016 08:44 PM #1
Rainmaker
536,688
Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint
Sandpoint, ID
North Idaho Real Estate - 208-255.6227

Top of the morning Kat.  How long will you be the primary care person with this.  It will reach a point that is beyond you won't it?  Best in continuing with good results as you have been.  Washing dishes with 409.  Goodness you need be alert every second.  Mark

Oct 30, 2016 09:17 PM #2
Rainmaker
1,077,882
Sharon Lee
Sharon Lee's Virtual Assistance - Jonesborough, TN
Retired and loving life

Kat-I am so glad you have help. It was 4 yrs before I got any. Unless someone is a caregiver they haven't a clue what it is like and how stressful it can be.

 

Oct 30, 2016 09:20 PM #3
Rainmaker
3,833,374
Dorie Dillard CRS GRI ABR
Coldwell Banker United Realtors® ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
Serving Buyers & Sellers in NW Austin Real Estate

Good morning Kat Palmiotti,

You are jewel ! I'm seeing through your posts handling the role of a caregiver if an awesome responsibility and can be trying. I've never experienced this and your post is helping me understand a appreciate those in this position. Keep your series up each week..it's important.

Oct 30, 2016 09:29 PM #4
Rainmaker
177,968
faye schubert
Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life

I've watched my mother go from a very intelligent woman to not knowing her name. It's an awful thing to watch and very frustrating to deal with the constant repetitive questions. We now have her in a care facility instead of home carea.I can honestly say that it's been very good for her well being and also for the family.

Oct 30, 2016 09:40 PM #5
Rainmaker
1,549,930
Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI
HomeSmart Realty West & Geneva Financial, Llc. - Carlsbad, CA
Presence, Persistence & Perseverance

Kat Palmiotti Situations like this are never easy. I am having a similar experience with my Mother since she suffered a stroke. Tough for everyone.

Oct 30, 2016 09:49 PM #6
Rainmaker
4,432,267
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

Thank you for sharing your stoy. Your mother in law is lucky to have you as a daughter in law.

Oct 30, 2016 09:54 PM #7
Rainmaker
694,917
Peter den Boer
Atlanta Communities - Woodstock, GA
MBA,GRI, Associate Broker, Realtor

Wow Kat Palmiotti . You are an angel. Keep up the great work. I am sure your mother - law appreciates it even if se can't express it.

Oct 30, 2016 10:52 PM #8
Rainmaker
3,639,643
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good morning Kat. I read in wonder and can not imagine the day to day let alone the hour to hour.

Oct 30, 2016 11:19 PM #9
Rainmaker
1,448,198
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Sally K. & David L. Hanson - Thank you! I did try crossword and jigsaw puzzles but not the children's puzzles - I'll have to check it out. There's a dollar store down the street.

Mark Don McInnes, Sandpoint - Thanks for stopping by. Yes, I have to be alert! As to how long this will last, that's really the biggest unknown. My father-in-law broke his hip and is not putting his all into the therapy and food he needs to eat so I think this may last at least a month or two longer. I'm not sure. That's part of my frustration.

 

Oct 31, 2016 07:07 AM #10
Rainmaker
1,448,198
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

Sharon Lee - Wow, based on what you mentioned previously, that 4 year period must have felt like a decade. You are one strong determined loving woman.

Dorie Dillard - Thank you so much for your comment. I think writing about the experience might be helpful to someone else. It's truly trying at times.

Oct 31, 2016 07:09 AM #11
Rainmaker
1,448,198
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667 (MT), 914-419-0270 (NY), Broker in NY with Grand Lux Realty and in MT with (coming soon!) - Kalispell, MT
The House Kat

faye schubert - Thank you for your comment. A live-in facility will be needed at some point for my mother-in-law but we're not there yet! I'm sorry to hear about your mom; it is a hard thing to see.

Sandy Padula and Norm Padula, JD, GRI NMLS#1483386 - I'm sorry to hear that you are dealing with a similar issue. It can be a stressful situation for everyone in the house!

Gita - Thank you for your kind words!

Peter - She says she likes me, then says she loves me, then gets mad at me for making her shower and wash her hair! 

Sheila - Tomorrow I won't have any outside help and I know I will be frazzled by dinner time. Being able to get to the office for a few hours and run errands really does help my energy and health levels.

Oct 31, 2016 07:13 AM #12
Rainmaker
4,432,267
Gita Bantwal
RE/MAX Centre Realtors - Warwick, PA
REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel

I stopped by to see if you have written about week 3. You are a wonderful person. 

Nov 11, 2016 05:26 AM #13
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