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2023 OCT Family Caregivers Blog

Family Caregivers' Blog is available to share helpful information to support families caring for those with dementia.

"Take Your Time and Be Patient..."

Mr. A's husband's dementia has progressed, leading to verbal and physical aggression. Despite residing in a facility, he had to move to a Special Care Unit within the facility. Initially, he struggled to adapt, entering other residents' rooms and exhibiting aggression. However, he seems to have adjusted recently and become calmer. Additionally, medication to help him relax didn't have much effect initially, but its efficacy has improved recently, resulting in a decrease in aggression. People with dementia take a considerable amount of time to adapt to new things. When someone with dementia moves, it can take six months to a year to adjust to the new environment. Even within the same facility, changes in units or staff can be stressful for individuals with dementia and may require a longer adjustment period.

Similarly, as people age, their metabolism slows down, so medications take longer to take effect compared to younger individuals. It's possible that Mr. A's medication has only started to show its effects after two or three months of regular use. Especially with older adults, starting with a low dose of medication and gradually increasing it while monitoring its effects takes time to find the right dosage.

Mrs. E's mother also took a long time to get used to external helpers. A year ago, she resisted having helpers, but over time, she began accepting them more readily. The frequency of visits increased, with helpers coming several times a week, and she even accepted extra helpers for lunch delivery. It took about a year to reach this point. People with dementia tend to resist change, so creating an environment where gradual changes are accepted, such as suggesting, "Why not try it for a bit? If you don't like it, you can stop," might be beneficial.

Mr. H's husband's dementia has progressed, leading to urinary incontinence and the need to wear pull-up diapers. However, for him, regular underwear and pull-ups look the same. When he takes them off, he puts them away in a drawer. Mrs. A's mother has had similar experiences. Instead of saying "Let's throw it away," Mrs. A suggests washing them, teaching her the importance of respecting her mother's perspective and feelings and responding accordingly.

Regarding pull-ups, various issues were discussed. Mrs. A's mother often mistook the "seam" of the pull-up for the back and wore it inside out. After brainstorming with facility staff, they decided to attach a sticker to the front of the pull-up. This simple adaptation proved to be crucial.

"The Story of the Escalator"

Mrs. H decided to take her husband to the food court for a meal. As they entered the mall, the food court was visible upstairs. Since the elevator was far away, she thought about taking the escalator. However, she hesitated, thinking, "Can we use the escalator? It's been a while since we last used one, and I'm not sure if we can get on and off smoothly. It would be troublesome if we fell!" In the end, with the food court right in front of them, they decided not to take the escalator and found the elevator too far, so they returned home. Other participants also expressed doubts about using the escalator if they hadn't used it for a while. It seems that while it may be possible if used regularly, coordination between the body and brain becomes challenging after a period of disuse.

Furthermore, as dementia progresses, distinguishing between "2D and 3D" becomes difficult. Objects that are raised (such as stairs) may appear flat, making falls more likely. Escalators can be confusing because it's hard to perceive the difference between the 2D and 3D aspects when getting on and off, leading to further confusion. Additionally, the moving handrails add to the confusion. While it's fine if you're used to it, be cautious when using it after a long time. Moreover, places like malls, with their noise, lights, and crowds, can be overwhelming, making it essential to observe the reactions of people with dementia and accompany them closely.

When going to crowded places, it's advisable to allow extra time and check beforehand for things like elevators and parking. It may be challenging, but ultimately, it could reduce the burden on both the person with dementia and their caregiver.

"Birthdays are Important, Forget the Age!"

Since October, Ms. Y has been participating in the Caregiver Support Group. Ms. Y's mother lives in Japan, while Ms. Y resides in Vancouver, so they provide long-distance care, coordinating with Ms. Y's brother in Japan. They communicate with their mother over the phone every other day. It's almost their mother's birthday. While they remember the birthday, they're not sure of the exact date today, so they don't know if the birthday is tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, or a week later. Every time they talk on the phone, Ms. Y tries to remind their mother how many days are left until the birthday. However, their mother doesn't remember her own age.

Many people remember birthdays but forget their age! Some even refuse to believe their actual age when told! According to A, some people even get angry when told their real age. But that's okay! The actual age is just a number. If someone wants to be 50 when they're actually 80, that's fine! Let's forget about the age and enjoy the birthday celebration!

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