DID YOU FORGET WHAT DAY IT IS? This may seem like a silly question but today’s blog is dedicated to a subject dear to my heart and it hurts to even talk about it. It is important, so let me begin. TODAY is the day we discuss ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE. Why would I feel it a subject for my blog. I am going to be my usual up front self and discuss my daughter’s journey facing day to day with her hero, her Dad, living with Alzheimer’s disease. Missy’s Dad and I were high school sweethearts, were married two weeks after high school graduation, lived together for over seventeen years, divorced, and both of us remarried.
No, this is not a story of my life with Ralph but it is give you a base of why this is so important to address how this “thief” of life came sneaking into Ralph’s life and totally stole my daughter’s Dad from a normal life of aging and living. I want to give you a recap of the man who has become a prisoner of this disease and I think you will understand why I use the word thief in the description.
Ralph has always worked hard and in a highly physical occupation. The irony of this is he graduated with an accounting degree so he could have been in an office and not out in the elements working with lumber building pallets and then on to scrap metal. Just like the strangeness of this devastating disease, his decision to work with his hands, arms, back, and legs was strange in itself. That is if you don’t know the man himself. Wood crafting and seeing it made into something has fascinated him all of his life.
To see Missy with her Dad and hear her plans to donate her vehicle she had to leave behind to someone or an organization along with donating to the Alzheimer’s association, please click on this link. Give all you can to her heart felt cause or even a small donation will be greatly appreciated.
I have heard of the triggers of dementia and a lot of times, an injury or health issue can set the disease into the train wrecking of the brain and daily living tasks. When several people, including Missy and me, noticed repetition of daily accounts/stories, at first it seemed simply aging but as time progressed, more and more signs that something was not quite right. I will not cover all of the occurrences at this time but loss of time, inaccuracies of where and why he was waking up at 4 am and getting dressed and going to work thinking it was the normal time of this trip, forgetting to eat normally, and on and on gave clues this was not the average actions.
Everyday life can be a stressful ordeal for a person with a dementia-related disorder. As the disease progresses, behaviors can occur that arenot always easily understood by family or caregivers.
Although it can be hard to understand why people with dementia act the way they do, it is important to remember that your loved one may not be acting out of ill will. It may be symptom of the disease and a changing brain.
However, once the underlying cause is identified or understood, the behavior can may be able to be prevented or at least decreased.
Common behaviors associated with dementia disorders include:
- Repetitive actions
- Verbal outbursts
- Sleep disturbances
- Hallucinations, delusions or paranoia
- Wandering or wanting to go home
- Hoarding or rummaging
- Abusive behavior
- Emotional changes
- Mood swings
Generally, people with dementia become agitated due to three potential trigger categories: Medical, physiological and/or environmental.
Medical triggers can include sickness, fever or pain, but it can also include issues that you might not initially think about, such as:
- Medication side effects
- Sores, open wounds, pressure areas or bruises
- Earache, toothache or headache
It is also important to remember that some people with a dementia illness cannot verbally express their pain or give accurate information about how they feel.
You cannot expect a “real” answer if you ask, “How do you feel?” However, they will express it non-verbally by exhibiting a change in behavior or functioning level.
People suffering from dementia also have a hard time processing changes in their surroundings. A move can be a little disconcerting for anyone, but for a person with dementia even rearranging objects in a room can cause agitation.
Other environmental triggers to keep in mind include:
- New or unfamiliar caregivers or separation from loved ones
- Lack of routine, such as no “agenda” to help orient to surroundings
- No activity, no stimulation and/or isolation
- Too much activity or sensory overload
- Lack of orientation cues, such as ways to find the bedroom or bathroom
- Lighting that might be too bright, not bright enough or creates shadows
- White noise such as a lawn mower outside or an appliance humming inside the home
- Room temperature (too hot or too cold)
- TV or radio that is left on all the time can cause confusion
- Clothes too tight, shoes too small or hair pulled too tight
In addition, things that we hardly notice as we go about our day-to-day activities can agitate a patient with dementia. If you are having a hard time figuring out what might be bothering your loved one, take a moment and observe your surroundings for the following triggers:
- Shiny floors: What might look nice and clean to you could look like ice or standing water to a dementia patient.
- Mirrors: When a dementia patient looks into a mirror they often do not recognize themselves or they can get “lost” in the depth of the mirror.
- Color contrast: Too much or too little color contrast can de disorienting for dementia patients. For example, an all-white bathroom can be disorienting because it can make it difficult to see the difference between the toilet set and the wall or the floor. And too much contrast can be problematic as well. Two-toned carpet, checker-board tile or black door mats can look like holes in the floor to a dementia patient.
If you are a caregiver and you are having trouble identifying the causes of your loved one’s discomfort or agitation, talk to your health care provider about potential triggers. Some simple changes could make all the difference for you and your loved one.
This article was reviewed by Lisa Hebert-Meritt, COTA/L, CDP, CADDCT, Carilion Clinic Home Care, program lead for Carilion’s Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia Management Home Care Program.
Learn more about the seven stages of dementia.
As a blogger, I usually don’t self promote, but this is a cause that I have witnessed the tremendous sacrifices of my daughter who left abruptly without thought of her life, had to give up her place she loved, have all of her belongings shipped and no place to store them or even set them up, and leave her vehicle which is a good car without having time to sell it. She is the primary caregiver and wants to keep her Dad at his home he built. She deserves help to help her Dad and others at the same time. Don’t you think this is the day to give? DON’T FORGET WHAT DAY IT IS…..IT’S THE DAY TO GIVE. PLEASE.
(C) COPYRIGHT Arline Miller 2012-2018 with all rights and privileges reserved. Third party material is sourced, if known to original location for credit reference.