10.29.16 Mary Yamin-Garone, DeMystifying Alzheimer’s
Good afternoon. Welcome to Demystifying Alzheimer’s. I’m your hostess Mary Yamin-Garone.
Today’s topic is “Questions You Never Thought You’d Have to Ask.”
It’s an unavoidable truth about caregiving that, somewhere, sometime along the way, you’ll encounter questions that you wouldn’t feel comfortable talking about with anyone.
Where do you go for help when this happens?
When aiming to uncover information about any topic, it’s best to consult experts in the field. For caregivers, this means not only seeking help from elder care experts but also turning to one another for support, encouragement and insights regarding how to handle caregiving’s most uncomfortable moments.
Here are some of the most awkward questions you might encounter along with practical advice from caregivers and experts according to AgingCare.com.
My mother won’t shower. What can I do about her body odor?
Rethink your assumptions about bathing and cleanliness and adjust to the situation. Is it necessary for your mother to shower or bathe every day or is twice a week sufficient? Ask yourself what would make her feel more comfortable and relaxed about this process. Has she always taken baths or showers? Bathed in the morning or at night? Incorporating as many aspects of her own routine into a new one should provide some comfort and help her preserve her dignity.
One caregiver says: Repetition. Don’t overlook the possibility that your loved one can’t remember some of the details of how to perform self-care.
Another says: My mother-in-law used to give herself a sponge bath at the kitchen sink. It turned out she was afraid of falling in the bathtub and that’s why she never took a shower. So my husband and I took off her shower door and put up a curtain. Then we put in a shower bench that has two legs that go outside the tub and two that are inside. There already was a shower wand instead of the typical shower head. She had a cow that now we were expecting her to take a shower but I made her practice first, fully clothed, to get used to the idea. Now she takes a shower all the time but she still won’t wash her hair herself.
Mom refuses to wear adult diapers and continues to walk around leaking urine like it’s no big deal. What can I do?
Try reminding her to use the bathroom every two hours and help her if necessary. See that she wears easy-to-remove, washable clothing with elastic waistbands.
According to one expert: Try getting an old friend (or her doctor if all else fails) to get her to understand that smelling like urine isn’t “independence.” Taking care of the problem is. I know it’s hard since most adults have trouble accepting incontinence issues. Family members often are considered to be “nags” but a third-party sometimes can get through. If she realizes a friend notices the problem, she may do something about it.
My elderly father is falling more often. Can it be from his medications?
One expert says: Definitely. Medications are the single biggest reason seniors experience falls each year and are the number one preventable accident they experience. Falls are serious because they’re the leading event that causes declines in the health of seniors. A large majority of seniors experience a second fall within six months because the causes of falls aren’t addressed.
What do I do when my mother with Alzheimer’s thinks the people in the pictures are real and she waves to them?
According to a caregiver: My mother has Alzheimer’s and has the same symptoms. She thinks photos are alive and the people on television can see her. I had to turn the TV off when she’s changing her clothes. I try to explain to her that they’re not real people—just pictures—but this is how her mind is working. Just be patient and go along with it. It’s not worth upsetting her and frustrating you.
Another says: I once told her, when she was waving, to stop because it was embarrassing me. She got mad and said, “No one lets me do what I want to.” Then she went around to each picture and said, “I can’t wave at you anymore.” Well that didn’t happen. The next time we were there, she just waved and even danced for them.
One expert says: My client also thought pictures were real and the television stuff was actually happening in the lounge. She could get very upset by it though, so I was constantly vigilant and ready to switch it off in a second. At least your mom seems to find it to be a pleasurable experience to interact with these images and seems happy. It is embarrassing but go along with it. Be glad she’s happy and never mind what other people think.
How do you give a bed bath?
One caregiver had this to say: If I were you, I’d call a local home health company and ask that they send their most experienced aide out to show you the most effective and safest way to do it.
Another says: I used to wash mom’s bottom half while she was still in bed. You can get no-rinse bath wash and shampoos at most local pharmacies. Or you can put warm water in a bowl and do it that way with soap and water. Do one side and turn her over and do the other side. While she was up in her wheelchair, I would do the top half and her hair. The no-rinse shampoo isn’t great but it can be a life saver.
While yet another says: I give my mother a bath every morning in her bed. I bring a bucket of water, a wash cloth, sponge and hand towel. First I sit her up in bed and take her nightgown off. I put soap on the sponge and do her back, rinse off with the wash cloth and then dry her back. Then she lies back down and I do her legs and give her the sponge to wash her face, arms, upper torso and privates while I rinse and dry her legs and feet. Then she turns on her side and I wash her bottom. Next, we put deodorant and powder on and get dressed.
That’s all for today. Thanks for listening. I hope this information was helpful.
Join me next time for more questions you never thought you’d have to ask.