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Living with Alzheimers and Trauma

Discussion in 'The Attic' started by Mavin1, Mar 22, 2010.

    Mar 22, 2010
  1. Mavin1

    Mavin1 Dormant account

    Seven years ago my husband and I decided it was time to make a decision regarding his mother that was showing signs of mental decline in the way her daily behaviors were changing. We, at the time didn't know what was going on with her, if it were just because after so many years of being with someone she was all alone or if there was something deeper going on.

    For all the years I have been married into this family she was the bookeeper for their Tire business. She ran her household, cared for the family and her husband and kept the books for all business related things. She was a little dynamo that never missed a beat.

    One day Roberts dad decided to sell the business and move to Mesa, this is probably where she started her mental decline, but hard to say. They lived there until 1996 when dad was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer just 3 weeks before passing away. Mom never cried, but concern showed on her just the same. Here she was, in an area she was uneasy with, her sons and grandchildren living in Globe which was only 95 miles away, but could have been a million as far as she was concerned. Well we all got together and moved her back here to Globe where she settled in to a routine that was very different from what she had prior to dad passing away.
    Although she had her sons around frequently, Robert every day, she began displaying extreme paranoia, like we had never seen before. She would get the house ready for her to go to bed at night, 5 pm, by nailing all the doors shut, duct taping them and putting a door jack under the knobs. She started hording anything and everything in her bedroom, not bathing, calling the police 30 times a month saying that I was crawling through her cooler vents and stealing her pictures and bird seed. There was so much more, but won't go into it. Robert had to replace all the doors in the house 4 times and replaster the walls around the doors as she had them down to the chicken wire under the now gone plaster.

    We finally decided it was time to make a serious decision on her well being so we moved her in with us as the other sons were not willing to take part in her care. Let me tell you, it has been a rollercoaster of emotions ever since. When we first was with her, I cried everyday, she was so horrible and miserable to be around and my life previous to her was always peaceful. So we contacted Adult Proctective Services and they helped us arrange to have her sent to Generations for evaluation. On her 3rd day there, they called and said we could pick her up as they found nothing wrong with her, we refused and asked they keep her a bit longer. By the 4th day she lost it and pretty much went banana's on them, so they kept her for a week and sent her home on a regimen of medications that would put anyone in a coma.

    Things were't going as smoothly as I had hoped with the medication, which was mostly behavior meds, but I couldn't figure out why they weren't working. Rob watched her one day after I had given her the meds and after I walked away, she spit them out in her hand and slipped them down the side of the recliner. Later after she was laying down, Rob looked under the recliner and there they were, $1,200 worth of behavior meds in the chair and under it. We gathered them up, brushed them off and put them back in the med bottles. After that I crushed them and gave them to her in strawberry jam. So problem mostly solved with the bad behaviors and things were getting easier in caring for her.

    Over time we have had to have several skin cancers removed, mostly from her face and arms. By the end of the day, she will have all the sticthes torn completely out. She had fallen a couple years ago and rebroke her left wrist, doctor gave her a soft splint and I spent all day everyday for a week putting it back on her. So then doctor puts a hard cast on her, the next morning it was on her bedroom floor. So I have come to the conclusion that the alzheimers mind obviously has no sense of pain like we have nor any sense of causing themselves injury.

    The night she fell, I was getting her ready for bed and had my back to her, helping her step into her pull-up diaper, she fell backwards and I was not able to catch her. I called Rob and we lifted her into bed. The next morning she was in serious pain when I tried to get her up. So we called the EMT's. They spent an hour getting her prepped for the hospital and then took her with Rob in the car right behind them. X-rays confirmed her left hip was broken, so she was admitted to the hospital on a tuesday, had surgery on wednesday, 3 screws were placed into the hip. Then she was in ICU for a couple more days and then moved out of ICU to the regular part of the hospital. By monday Dr said she was ready to go to the nursing home for recovery and rehab.
    Okay, now I am not saying anything bad about nursing homes but having worked many years in them and seeing what direction most elderly alzheimers patients take, we really didn't want her to go there. We talked with Dr and explained our feelings and told him of my background as a CNA and Restorative Therapist. Dr was actually pleased to find that we were willing and able to care for her at home, so after just under a week in the hospital we brought her home.

    During her time in the hospital, they took her off all her prescribed meds she had taken for the past 7 years and at this point I have not put her back on them as she has shown no need for them at this time. Previously I would have been panicking if she didn't have the ones to control her behaviors.

    The hardest part was getting her in and out of the car as she was in the painful stage of her healing, but we managed. We borrowed a wheelchair from a friend otherwise we would have had to carry her into the house. Our first few weeks after returning home was looking pretty bleak on her recovering to where she was prior to the trauma of the break. We had a low bed for her and my back was in serious pain everyday from changing, cleaning her and getting her up and down from such a low position. We were under the supervision of Home Health care at first with a nurse and therapist coming on a regular basis. The nurse was seeing a lack of improvement in her cognitive and physical skills. Same as for the therapist, she was not seeing mom improving either as she was barely using her left arm and leg, falling over backwards or to the left when sitting on the side of the bed. In the meantime Rob researched the internet and found a site that offered information on how to improve someone in this mental condition, so he took notes and went out and bought the supplements that was required for a daily regimen.

    This is the list of what we are giving her:

    Korean Ginseng 100mg 1 daily,

    Acetyl L-Carnitine 250mg 1 daily

    Co Q-10 100mg 1 daily

    Alpha Lipoic Acid 200mg 1 daily

    Natural Ed-alpha 1000 I.U. 1 daily

    Super B-Complex 1 daily

    Milk Thistle 1000mg 1 daily

    D3 2000 I.U. 1 daily

    DHEA 25mg 1 daily

    Oyster Shell Calcium + D 1 daily

    Ginko Biloba 120mg 2 capsules 2 times daily

    Hi-Lignan Nutri Flax 1 scoop daily

    I crush the crushables and add them to her cereal in the mornings, the non crushables I make sure she swallows them. Since having her on this regimen coupled together with daily range of motion exercises and interaction with us throughout the day she has improved greatly, in some instances even better than she was previously to the traumatic injury.

    We currently have her on hospice but at the rate she is improving I suspect she will be taken off. They have provided us with a new wheelchair, all the supplies we may need, a bath transfer bench and an electric hospital bed, which has made caring for her so much easier. Anyways, She is verbalizing better than before and actually will watch a movie with us whereas before she would pretty much stare at the floor. She is using both right and left side limbs equally, but is still somewhat weak on the left. At this point I am not eager to have her trying to walk on her own as she is still not strong enough to keep her balance or maybe even hold herself up without help. But am excited to see the improvements she displays daily and her determination to do some of what she instinctively remembers doing for a long time.

    Yes it has been a rollercoaster of emotions, where at times I just wanted to walk away, but am glad to have stuck it out. She has become the child I never had and I would fight tooth and nail for her. When the day comes that she will no longer be with us, which at this time she is 90 years old, I will be lost without her in my life and will have a huge empty void that will be very hard to fill.

    To my mother in law, I love you and have and always will be honored that I was the daughter in law that cared for you, I have been blessed in so many ways and thank you dearly for the opportunity you have given me.


    I am posting this for anyone who may be going through the same thing and would like to share their experience or exchange ideas. You may also feel free to pm me anytime to chat.
    9 people like this.
  2. Mar 23, 2010
  3. Westland Bowl

    Westland Bowl Tin Foil Hat Club Member CAG PABnonaccred

    not applicable
    I took care of my mother for 1 1/2 years before she passed on. It was very hard but I wouldn't change a thing. I'm glad your mother-in-law don't have any reactions to the mix of meds and herbal stuff. I think a bit of Chinese acupuncture may help some too. Has she recovered enough to be conversational? Is she aware of what's going on with herself?

    Though she may be difficult at times, always assure her of your love for you never know when the crossing will occur.
    1 person likes this.
  4. Mar 23, 2010
  5. vegetagirl2008

    vegetagirl2008 Mafia Wars Level 472

    No Job Here..
    Brooklyn, New York, United States
    I am in the same situation with my mother-in-law she is doing alright now but all we can do is be there for them and give them as much love as we can possibly give them. And to never let that love falter in any way shape form or fashion. Thank You for writing the post atleast I don't feel alone on this.
    1 person likes this.
  6. Mar 23, 2010
  7. Mavin1

    Mavin1 Dormant account

    Hi Westland Bowl, nice to have your input. It is really a wonderful experience to care for a parent or parent in law whether it be for a short time or a long time, the feeling one gets from it is the same and very good. I am very glad to hear you were honored with the care of your mother as well.

    We haven't been giving her the prescriptions meds since she has been taking the herbal supplements. While she was in the hospital, they weren't giving them to her, but did give her morphine and blood pressure meds. When we got her home we had these discontinued as I'm sure it was affecting her mental and motor responses and she has never had BP problems ever.
    What Rob decided to do was get her on the supplements and detox her from the years of the behavior meds and the meds the hospital put her on.
    I strongly feel since the narcotics are purged from her system that the supplements have been helping her heal both mentally and physically.

    I'm sure she isn't aware of what is going on with her and even if she is told she immediately forgets. But she is agreeable to whatever I have her do and that makes things easier.
    As for conversing, she doesn't initiate any verbalizing but will answer and I do make her verbalize rather than just nod, lately she has even been speaking in sentences where before she had stopped doing that with the progression of the alzheimers.
    Never thought of acupuncture and wouldn't have a problem with something like that for some things, but being in a small mining town, these things are not available here.

    We do tell her everyday and many times a day that we love her and give her hugs or rub her head, these things make her smile.
  8. Mar 23, 2010
  9. Mavin1

    Mavin1 Dormant account

    We are never alone in what life offers us and I more than welcome hearing your story of your mother in law anytime you need or want to talk to someone.
    1 person likes this.
  10. Mar 23, 2010
  11. dominique

    dominique Dormant account

    The Boonies
    She is so lucky to have you.

    I live far from home, across the big pond, and I have an aunt with Alzheimers back home. I rarely see her, she has been in a home for some 30 years and I don't fly over there that often anymore. She has not recognized anyone in all that time, when she went to the home she had already completely disconnected. She cannot eat or drink, she doesn't turn her head, doesn't look at anyone, basically doesn't ever move on her own. The only thing that seems to get any response from her (just a glimmer in her eyes) is being touched.

    It is so very sad, she was the jolly aunt who always had a joke to tell and made everyone laugh. I have no legal rights to interfere, but I strongly suspect she is being kept on powerful drugs. She is otherwise healthy, but of course on artificial food and drink for the last 30 years. But she walked in there, and hasn't much moved since. Her husband never visited and passed on a long time ago, and her son never visits. The only person who ever goes to see her other than my very sparse visits is my other aunt.

    You speak of touching your mother in law - and I very much think that affectionate physical contact can do wonders for people. I am very impressed with how you are standing by her through thick and thin.

    I wish I could help my aunt, but there is just nothing I can do, the only person who could is her son. What is nagging on me the most is the suspicion that she is heavily medicated all this time, that perhaps she could live a life without the meds. But then, I am not qualified to make any judgements. I just know that Alzheimers patients can be pretty unruly sometimes, and that home is very quiet, you'd expect some ruckus going on once in a while.
    1 person likes this.
  12. Mar 23, 2010
  13. Mavin1

    Mavin1 Dormant account

    Oh Dominique, my heart goes out to you, it really does. I can totally understand how you must feel being so far away and wanting to help your aunt or do something more than you are able to.
    I will tell you this and please take it to heart. Knowing alzheimers and all it's stages you learn the stage comes when they, as you say, become disconnected. I almost feel it is a spiritual disconnection as the person we once knew is no longer there. It is unfortunate that when they have come to this crossroad between physical life and spiritual separation from life, that we who are left here feel all sorts of emotions because we don't know what to do or how to make it better and feel they are still with us. I think in some ways alzheimers although a curse can be a blessing as well because the true person that once resided in that form is no longer there.
    So even when it's hard for us to understand what is really in that realm between life and death, I believe God has given them a buffer, where things no longer hurt them, emotions don't control them and life in this earthly place is no longer meanignful or less important than the one that they are seeing between the realms of a place that we who are still tied to this plane of existance are not able to see.
    So please don't feel bad that you cannot do more for your aunt, she knows you love her and would do anything you could for her, but she would also want you to know that although her earthly body is still here, she is not.

    One thing we can rest assured of is that with all things in our lives that cause us disease and illness, poisoning our very existance on this earth, it is only physical, our spiritual real self can never be damaged.

    In our society we are being governed by pharmaceutical companies way to much. It is a sad thing to think about how they are used and what they cause. There is no narcotic that doesn't have a side effect of some sort and many of the side effects will cause more meds to be added to a persons mix. Think about it, how many people do you know, including children that are not on some sort of prescribed medication? When it comes to children and the elderly, especially the ones with alzheimers, they can't refuse the meds prescribed. So I agree with you that the alzheimers patients in many instances are way to drugged and there comes a stage when all the narcotics are simply not necessary anymore.
    Over time I started cutting them out for my mother in law. First it was the Ambien, which is a sleep aide, side effects; sleep walking, she was doing this and injuring herself with many skin tears. So I replaced it with Melatonin, which is a natural sleep aide. Then got rid of the Aricept and Trazadone, then the Namenda and had her down to only the Risperdol and Thyroid pill. After seeing that she was taken off these in the hospital and not seeing any ill effects I haven't put her back on the risperdol either.
    Last edited: Mar 23, 2010
    1 person likes this.
  14. Mar 25, 2010
  15. felicie

    felicie Dormant account

    self employed
    somewhere else
    Wow Mavin incredible story. It almost sounds like she is getting better? I've never heard of anyone getting better with AD especially at that age. You truly are a saint. :thumbsup:
    1 person likes this.
  16. Mar 25, 2010
  17. Mavin1

    Mavin1 Dormant account

    That's one of the reasons I gave a condensed account of her behaviors prior to breaking her hip at the end of January, then the bleakness she seem to have immediately after being hospitalized and a few weeks after returning home.
    In this short amount of time we have seen a remarkable improvement in her cognitive and physical abilities. The physical ones are coming along slowly, but they are improving.
    It's the cognitive changes however that are amazing me. She still has very visible signs of alzheimers but her attention span and engaging in conversation has shown a great improvement since we have detoxed her from the narcotic medications and only have her on the natural supplements.
    It would be interesting if others were to add these supplements and vitamins to someone they have in their family with the same condition and see if they begin noticing any changes.
    Now I don't recommend dropping prescribed meds unless it has been approved by one's doctor. But if an alzheimers victim can improve with the supplements and vitamins, then that's a plus for the victim of the disease as well as family and caregivers.

    Kind of like my husbands diagnosis of prostate cancer 7 years ago, it has never been treated by doctors, only natural avenues have been taken and his doctor stated that as far as he was concerned, Rob didn't have cancer anymore.

    So if anyone wants to find out more about curing cancer one site that is really good is Dr Lorraine Day, she herself had matasticized breast cancer and cured it completely, naturally, no medical intervention other than to have the size of her tumor reduced.
    You must register/login in order to see the link.

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