Alzheimer`s Disease/Keeping my mom safe

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Question
My mom does not have Alzheimer's or even any dianosed dementia. She has been living with me for the last five years - during the first two my father was in hospice care in my home, now my mother is also.

Momi has COPD and has suffered several illnesses, including UTI, that weakened her terribly - she is no longer able to walk, and needs assistance just to get onto a commode or wheelchair. Her mind was pretty good except for some moments of confusion or a bad day here or there.

During the last few days, something changed - she keeps insisting she wants to go to her own room and her own bed, though she is in the same room she has slept in for all this time (we did have a hospital bed put in about 6 months ago). She wants to "get out of here and go home". She wants to "go downstairs" to her bed (there is nothing downstairs but a garage, laundry room, and basement storage).

She has become increasingly angry with us over the last few days as we try to gently convince her she is truly at home. She thinks we are conspiring against her, and the last two days she keeps trying to get out of bed on her own, will not speak to us, accuses us of lying to her and thinks we are conspiring against her. She has also been hallucinating at times.

Her health right now is good as far as her vitals and oxygen level, but she is refusing food and water from family members (she doesn't seem to be angry with any of the aides that come to help her, just with one nurse who also tried to help her understand she was at home). I am afraid she will be injured or get sick.

Sorry about the long story - but have you any tricks or experienced a method that will work to help her get her bearings? Taking her for a tour of what should have been the familiar house she lives in didn't work...

Answer
Hello Julia:  I'm so sorry to hear of your mom's sudden decline.  My advice to you to to take her immediately to the ER or to her family doctor--the most likely explanation for her sudden mental status changes and moods is that she has some type of infection and she now has a delirium from that.  The delirium is what you see as the increased confusion and anger.  She needs testing and treatment right away.  It's usually a urinary tract infection, but with her COPD it could also be an upper respiratory illness and lack of oxygen to her brain.  Trying to reorient her is not likely to work until the illness or cause of the delirium is fixed.  I wish you much luck Julia as you continue to care for your family.  Cindy

Alzheimer`s Disease

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Cindy Keith, RN, BS, Certified Dementia Practitioner

Expertise

As a nurse and dementia consultant, I can answer most questions on all types of dementia. If I cannot answer your question, I will attempt to find someone who can. My passion is to help caregivers of people with dementia, which in turn helps all those wonderful elders with dementia live better lives. When caregivers are better educated, they are able to better care for themselves and their loved ones, so education is key to decreased stress levels and healthier, happier families.

Experience

I have worked as a nurse in various disciplines of nursing for over 20 years, most of which was with the elderly. I was a health care coordinator in a dementia dedicated assisted living facility for 4 years before I started my own business (M.I.N.D. in Memory Care) as a dementia consultant six years ago. As a dementia consultant, I help families nationwide through phone conference calls as they struggle to care for their loved ones with dementia.

Organizations
Alzheimer's Foundation of America Geriatric Interest Network Sigma Theta Tau International

Publications
Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem - Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia" which is a collection of stories about people with dementia I have known, loved and worked with. Every story has a lesson to teach and this book gently teaches family caregivers lessons about how to better care for their loved one, as well as themselves during their caregiving journey. Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem In Eldercare Facilities: The Master Key For Dementia Training" Created "Bringing Nurturing To Memory Care" staff dementia training video Created Ebook: "Hair Stylist's Helpful Tips For Working With People With Alzheimer's & Other Dementias"

Education/Credentials
Registered Nurse with Bachelor's degree in Nursing; Certified Dementia Practitioner; Author of 2 books and an ebook

Awards and Honors
Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society of Nursing

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