Read these 6 Dealing with Alzheimers Tips tips to make your life smarter, better, faster and wiser. Each tip is approved by our Editors and created by expert writers so great we call them Gurus. LifeTips is the place to go when you need to know about Alzheimers tips and hundreds of other topics.
Alzheimer's has been called the "long goodbye," and "fading into the sunset." While these phrases definitely ring true, they do not necessarily reflect some of the practicalities that will emerge.
Many other deaths are sudden, quick or dramatic enough that intervention and care is at the hospital or handled mostly by health care staff. Alzheimer's is not this way, we as caregivers have lots of time to prepare and muddle over the last days.
As is typical, however, most Alzhiemer's resources only give brief mention to the topic of end-of-life. Certainly it's necessary to do what we can to maintain function and living, but it's to our detriment not to prepare for the eventuality.
Here are some links that talk about the details of caring for end-of-life: including things like how to handle constipation, diarhhea, pain, etc.
American Academy for Hospice Care
American Family Physicians
Merck Manual for Health and Aging
You'll probably read about wandering and Alzheimer's. What I would like to talk about here, however, is you running away. One day, every day, or at some point you will feel like you want to run away from this situation. Alzheimer's isn't like a cold that gets better, a tumor that gets cut out, or even a migraine. It's constant, invisibile, and tenacious. It's natural to want to run from it all. When these feelings emerge, be selfish, enlist friends and family to give you a break. The burden isn't all supposed to fall just on you. It just feels that way. Do what you need to do to get a break, whether it's a few hours, a day, or a week -- do run away; so that you can come back.
Imagine viewing the world thru a periscope, there's a limited view, and just one pipe that everything needs to get thru. In contrast, adults without Alzheimer's have learned to take in a "wide-view" of the things around us.
For example, while driving we're constantly looking at the side-mirrors, back mirrors, watching our speed, the sidewalks for pedestrians and kids, etc. An Alzheimer's tank is much more methodical and brute force. It sees dinner and goes to eat dinner, there's no idle chit-chat to distract.
Keep this in mind when trying to get someone with Alzheimer's to do something, just focus on conveying only the information necessary to get down that periscope. He'll be watching and waiting.
There have been many individual reports about the positive effectiveness when coconut oil is taken internally by Alzheimer's patients. Dr. Mary Newport, a pediatrician, has written extensively about the role that ketones can play in slowing down the effects of this disease. Her husband has Alzheimer's.
Ketones normally occur within the human body as a by product when the fats are broken down. Dr Newport suggests that by boosting their levels, some neurological disorders may benefit. Coconut oil is a fat called medium chain triglycerides (MCTs). After this type of fat is changed into ketones within the liver, it is able to deliver energy to the brain. The belief for some is that it can restore the energy lost by the inability for the human body to make insulin that once guided the glucose into human cells. This causes the brain and other organs to regain the nourishment that has previously been lost.
According to Elizabeth Edgerly, Ph.D for the Alzheimer's Association of the North Carolina and Northern Nevada Chapter, it is best to discuss this issue with the doctor before giving coconut oil to any Alzheimer's patient. She suggests that, as with anything, this should be done to make sure that there is no harm in trying out this new digestible diet. Dr. Edgerly further says that the difficulty is that there have not been any large studies done. Without these studies, verification cannot be made. There is no actual data suggesting that coconut oil can improve the current physical and mental effects of patients with Alzheimer's disease or any other neurological problems.
If a person has no leg, we try to fix that by giving him a prosthetic. If the bicycle has a broken bell, we go buy a new one. If the computer has a virus, we run the anti-virus program. We are a society used to fixing things. But with Alzheimer's, parts of the brain are broken and we don't have a mental-prosthetic, and we can't fix what's broken inside that brain. After you've tried the ginko-biloba, the notebook, the Aricept, the repeated instructions....it's time to let things go. Parts are broken, you don't need to fix it. You can't fix it. Pops keeps calling Sue, Patty. Mom keeps re-arranging the dresser drawer. You can't remember what you had for lunch. It's okay, that's the world now. Let it be.
These days we are used to euphamisms like differently-abled, special needs or challenged. But for Alzheimer's and dementias we tend to think of it as the end of the world. Instead, for a long period people are able to function, but with disabilities--mental disabilities. Make some modifications to compensate. Think of it as installing a wheelchair ramp for the lost cognition.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|