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How Do I Answer This? - Carers UK Forum

How Do I Answer This?

For issues specific to caring for someone with dementia.
Every day, easily ten or fifteen times, my mum, who has vascular dementia, tells me, or anyone who will listen, how she is frightened and has no energy. She wants to know why and I have no idea how to respond anymore. I've tried saying that it comes to us all, the tiredness, as we get older but as she has never accepted the concept of getting old, almost as if it won't happen to her if she ignores it, this hasn't been a hurtling success! Mum is 87 btw. We have tried telling her it is a symptom of her condition, that she may well become frightened, anxious and tired but she isn't alone and we will help in any way we can but that doesn't satisfy her either.
She is slightly better if I can get her out of bed and downstairs but that gets more difficult by the day. If I do succeed she does sometimes load and unload the dishwasher but not as often as she used to and that is all she does other than sit with her eyes closed or repeat her questions.
Without the inclination to do anything she doesn't generate any energy or keep her brain at least a little stimulated and her understanding of 'use it or lose it' and keeping active are lost now so each day she gets more despondent and I feel more of a failure because I can't help.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
I wish I had some instant solution, but sadly, there isn't one.
However: keeping people busy is important - and we found that a good day centre at least provided a break in the routine, so it might be worth trying, if you have one.
Have you done the basics - a Power of Attorney, a Will, a Carers Assessment? If not, contact your local social work department - they can help.
You're not a failure; you're just sort of working against the odds. I wonder if she could be depressed? Could you have a word with the local older mental health team, or whatever it's called in your area? It may be she feels she's out of control when she comes downstairs and the demented mind does need to feel safe as it's running under so much stress day to day.
The other thing is her heart ok? Heart problems do cause a lot of tiredness. I know every case is different, but my Mum was getting very tired, which I put down to dementia. I decided however to mention it to the GP next time we went. The day after I made that decision, she came head first down the stairs and it turned out she was bradycardic, her heart having had a big blip while she was going up the stairs. One pacemaker later, she's an awful lot better physically and quite a bit better mentally - nothing like a bit more oxygen to the brain.
Thank you for your replies, I do appreciate them.
I have power of attorney for health and finance, we've had a carers assessment and they suggested a course called living well with dementia they were running to help with her acceptance of the situation. Mum lasted one week and then refused to return. She did go to daycare, for about six weeks. She had a place twice a week but only went both days once. They closed for a fortnight for their summer holidays and she refused to go back there too. Apparently some of them sat with their eyes closed most of the day while others asked the same questions over and over!
Mum is frail but strong if that makes any sense. I've had everything checked and double checked but the only thing they found was the dementia. She has taken anti depressants the first lot didn't touch the sides, the replacements turned her into a zombie and scared all of us! She won't even entertain trying a third lot.
I am sorry I sound so negative about your suggestions, I do appreciate them and it makes me feel a bit better that a) there is no magic wand that I've missed and b) I have been on the right track pretty much.
I try to get her downstairs because she also says she is lonely, although granted not as often as she mentions being frightened and also she eats half lying down, denies it, even though I see her do so, and is then sick. I seriously don't do grown up sick, or I didn't. We got her an over the bed table but that joined the list of rejections along with anything else that might even vaguely help her.
Again thank you, your comments helped me realise I am not quite as dismal as I thought