Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Medications And Dementia

The CDC and estimated 177,000 older adults visit the emergency room due to medication problems.  As we move through this journey of dementia with my father, I can see just how easy it is for seniors to become overwhelmed, confused, or over-medicated. 
Each day is a struggle to allow my father to maintain some independence and for me to ensure he is safe and compliant with his medication. This Demon of Dementia has led my father to have poor judgement and poor reasoning. 
For us the following steps have seemed to make the situation more manageable.
1. Dad and I fill his medication container together.  This doesn't always work because he still thinks he can manage his medications independently - so I check them box daily for additions and subtractions.  
2.  Every morning when we set up breakfast we have him bring his medications to the table.
This is a gentle reminder and gives us an opportunity to watch him take his medications (making sure he is swallowing without difficulty and that he is still able to handle the pills without them falling on the floor).

3. Prompting him at bedtime, he always says goodnight, to take his medications.  This is the area we often struggle with - he often gets side-tracked between the den and his room. So this area we will continue to work on. 
Tomorrow we are going to see a geriatric specialist - he was so upset when I tried to discuss his memory issues and seeking a diagnosis, that I have sort of told a little white lie.  He thinks we are going to see a geriatric specialist about some skin lesions and his neck issues.   I hate not being honest but, I need to know, where are we on this journey with dementia? Is there anything that we can do to slow this journey with the dementia demon? 

Some of you may be thinking, aren't you a nurse practitioner?? Why do you need to go to a specialist??? This is my father, I need to know that he is receiving the best care possible. When providing care for a family member you are not always objective...I need the objectivity. 

Stay tuned for more updates
~ Connie~ 

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Dementia Sucks

Living with a family member that has dementia is difficult, there I said it!  
Dementia sucks!
In August of last year my then 86 year-old father came to live with us.  He was beginning to have some memory issues.  The issues were starting to impact his life - he was a risk when driving, he was starting to have anger issues, he did not always remember to eat or to take his medication.  He had started having difficulty managing his finances.
 Ready or not we drove to Texas and brought him to our home in Northeast AR. This was a big move for a man who was born and raised in Texas and never had any plans of moving out of Texas.
The first few months we adjusted.  The Big Man and our youngest son pitched in and we established a routine for providing care for Pops.
Routines are important for people with dementia.  Structure helps keep things constant which minimizes the confusing that occurs with dementia.
But, we were not prepared for the feelings that come with watching a vibrant independent person loose their ability to be able to recall dates, memories of their life, or complete simple daily task.
Life will never be the same - it is like loosing someone you love, yet they are still standing right in front of you.
Next week we are headed to the geriatric specialist - I know there is nothing we can do to stop this demon called dementia, but maybe we can slow the process down?? maybe we can find a way to accept what the next months or years may hold??? maybe we can find ways to make Pop's life less forgetful???
Over the next few weeks I will be sharing what we learn - check back weekly to find out how we can live with the demon called Dementia. 
~ Connie ~