Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Cat hunting is Bill's latest thing. He used to feed squirrels to draw them to the house, but has moved up to the house cat. This pretty much sums up portions of my day on the home front.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

So sorry for taking so long to write

Hi, everybody. So sorry for taking so long to write. I have been going through a little shell shock. Thank God for all the information out there on helping caregivers from falling into self-destructive behavior. It is easy to get mentally wrapped up in things that have no logic or reason.

The best thing for me to do to explain where we are at is to share this information with you. We've been here for awhile, and I suspect we are moving towards the next stage.
Stage 6:  Severe cognitive decline (Moderately severe or mid-stage Alzheimer's disease)
This stage is where really significant personality changes can emerge. That sweet person you used to know suddenly is combative, volatile and possibly violent at times. The Alzheimer's Association says that at this stage, people lose "most awareness of recent experiences…as well as their surroundings."
People in this stage can be very inventive, when trying to outwit the caregiver. They are also prone to wandering, so keeping them safe can be a challenge. They've been known to find ways to unlock several locks on doors and to enable a supposedly disabled car. They are not dumb, folks. This isn't about intelligence.
Caregivers have been known to remove and hide car batteries. People sometimes get alarms installed that are meant to let you know if someone is breaking in, but they get them so they know if their Alzheimer's afflicted loved one is breaking out.
During this wandering prone stage, an Alzheimer's afflicted person must be watched carefully, as an unfortunate number of them have, literally, been stranded out in the cold. There are alarms and ID bracelets and other forms of protection on the market that can help keep track of, or find, someone who is wandering.
Stage 6 is also a phase where, according to the National Alzheimer's Association, "(People) lose most awareness of recent experiences and events as well as of their surroundings."
They often don't remember their own histories and can forget the names of people they love (though they usually recognize faces).  They need help dressing and toileting. This, too, is the stage where the sleep cycle is greatly disturbed for this person (to say nothing of the caregiver's sleep cycle).
Late day/early evening confusion, often called "sundowning," where the person is agitated  and confused  is thought to have to do with light and/or activity changes that trigger the Alzheimer's patient's need to do something important, but they don't know what (perhaps it's time to "go home from work?"). Whatever the cause, this is a difficult time of day for many caregivers and dementia patients.
Stage 6 is also the phase where the caregiver will witness more paranoia or suspicions ("they are trying to steal my dentures"). Hallucinations are not at all uncommon, and compulsive behaviors such as picking, tissue shredding, scratching and hand-wringing can occur.
This is often the phase where the person with Alzheimer's may need to be moved to a secure environment where they are safe and the caregiver can get some relief from the 24/7 job of caregiver (often that occurs earlier).

As you can imagine, I am crazy busy most of the time between teaching, picking up after Bill's tinkering, and keeping an eye on him. He loves to screw with me and hide and stuff. Crazy. In fact, the entire article paints a clear picture for us. 
I have loved seeing so many of you recently. I love you all and am so glad to have you there with me in heart and soul. I get sad and lonely when things get crazy. If hugs can be packaged and mailed, put me on your mail list. If not, alcohol works. Jus' kidden...