Ask & Answer

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Questions from our Members: 

What is the difference between "dementia" and "Alzheimer's?"

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S A M P L E - S A M P L E 


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How do I take the care keys away? 


SUGGESTION: I disabled my mother's car. I pulled the battery.  Then, of course, she called and said the car wasn't working, so I "had it towed to the garage for repair." I actually brought it to my house, then never brought the car back.  When she asked about the car, I made excuses.  She did not remember I told her this same thing yesterday, so it worked.  

SUGGESTION:  I told my mom we could be sued and lose everything if she caused an accident.  I promised we would figure out alternative transportation, and I did.  I called upon her friends and family members.   

What is the best way for a caregiver  to ask for help (from family or friends)

when they need a break? 


ANSWER:  Be specific, i.e., “Can you pick up dinner?”  “Can you pick up the dry cleaning?”  Not, “Can you help this weekend?”  I know organizing our own help is an added pain we don't need, however, these people do not know what we need, or, more accurately, they don’t know how to help.  When that happens, the excuses start coming in and we wind up disappointed AND without help.  Coming up with an actual task helps people easily say “yes.”  Try that.


COMMENT:  I reached out to my family and asked “Hey can you step in and help me this week?”  I really thought they would be happy to help.  The end result were no actual specifics, I couldn’t nail them down on a day or a time.  All they said was, “Don’t worry about it, we’ll be there.”  They weren’t.  They didn’t pick up their phones and I never heard back.  All this is to say, I agree, BE SPECIFIC. 


VIC COMMENT:  I always say “Caregiving shows us who we are.  It also shows us who others are as well.”  In my case, people were a massive disappointment.  I just did the best I could and figured their indecision and lack of help were on them.  


ANSWER:  Be upfront and honest about what is going on with YOU as a caregiver.  Don’t candy coat it.  Write it down if you have to.  If we can’t be specific, we wind up sounding like whiners and I know that is NOT our intention.  Let them know what your duties ARE, how they CROSS THE LINE, or if you need overnight care, TELL THEM.  I have learned that anything less than direct does not work.  For us, the small stuff LIKE: picking up and sorting the mail, cleaning up the house, cleaning the yard, dishes being put away, laundry, is not small .  It all adds up to overload.   



How do I get my father to the doctor for a cognitive assessment?  He refuses to go!

SUGGESTION: I used this phrasing: “Dad, I am noticing things that I feel are serious to your safety. I’d simply like to get a baseline for future reference. Would that be okay?”  

SUGGESTION:  "Dad, let's go to lunch.  Afterwards I have a doc appointment for myself that I'd love for you to be there with me.  And if there are any other errands you'd like to run, we can do them while we are out. Would that be okay?"

(Always ask them "would that be okay," it gives them a sense of control and dignity.)


I came home to find my sister on the floor unable to get up. 

She refuses in-home care.  Any thoughts? 


SUGGESTION:  ADT Security has a system in place just for this problem, a button Donna can wear and push, and speak to ADT.

SUGGESTION:  This may not be totally relevant but when my Mom visits, I appreciate the ADT Security that “beeps” when a door is breached.  Those beeps have alerted me she has opened a door to the outside.  


...Great suggestion with the ADT Button, but what if she isn't even aware she's wearing the button? 

SUGGESTION:  I'd go for the ADT system anyway.  The button, if pushed, will alert ADT and if she does not respond, they send help regardless.  OR ask the hospital, Alzheimer's Ass. or Support Group for suggestions. 


SUGGESTION: Is there a neighbor or family member who can check on her for you?

SUGGESTION:  If her dementia is that far progressed, can you both move to Assisted living together?  You can still work and have your independence, so can she. 

My dad can prepare meals for himself and his pets, but his dementia is progressing fast.  I am worried about him and his animals being alone. 


SUGGESTION: I put up two-way cameras to keep an eye on her as well as be able to talk to her.  We hired a caregiver to come in a few hours a day, every day.  Keep in mind this will only get worse.  


My dad is living with us but it is taking a toll on my wife and three daughters.   They are too young to understand his odd behviors.  It is affecting their school work.  Help?! 


SUGGESTION: Unfortunately, this will not improve.  Taking care of your dad should never be at your expense or your family's.  I think it is time you find your dad another place to live.  I was very creative in finding a place that was like a bording house where I hired a caregiver to keep an eye on her.  It turned out great because she made friends. 


SUGGESTION:  As this disease progresses, the harder it is for them to accept a new environment.  

SUGGESTION: My dad panicked when I suggested this very thing, I told him we were remodeling and we ALL had to move out for a short period of time.  Then explained where he would be "temporarily." If he protested or complained, I kept saying it was temporary and just needed his help for a short time.  If worked.  

SUGGESTION:  Call the Alzheimer's Association and ask if they know of LOCAL housing for your loved one within your budget.  ​I called them for an attorney to do "pro bono" work, and they successfully referred me.  Maybe they can suggest housing?


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              - Downton Abbey