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Dementia and loss of physical ability - Carers UK Forum

Dementia and loss of physical ability

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Mum has been in a dementia home now for 3 months. 6 weeks ago she just stopped walking and can barely stand. No-One knows why. I suspect a stroke. She is now in a wheelchair. She is still very lucid most days and is distressed that she cannot walk. The staff transfer her into an armchair every day. Trouble is, she is so anxious about the transfer that she shakes violently after. She has also become doubly incontinent because she doesn't want to be transferred from armchair to wheelchair then wheelchair to toilet, and vice versa. The staff have been trying different handling belts to try and alleviate her anxiety, but none seem to help. She is 94 and blind and I'd love to be able to help her but don't know how. Any suggestions?
Poor lady. Especially being blind must make the transfer even scarier. Is there not some kind of 'comfy wheelchair'....or possibly a 'wheeled comfy chair' (if you see what I mean) that would do for her once she is out of bed, and could stay in 'all day' so to speak????? Also, is it possible to 'time' her bowel movements by way of applying aperients at a particular time, so that all 'that stuff' can be taken care of, say, in the morning, during getting up time? And then use pads etc for passing water during the day???

Sorry if this is naïve and unworkable - but it seems so sad that a 'little thing' like a transfer causes such distress and knock-on problems.

As for what is causing her inability to walk, surely the staff should have seen this before, if it's a stroke, etc, and have some idea, and whether it passes, or is now permanent.

Is she on any medication? My MIL in a care home has to opposite problem to your poor mum - my MIL is 'far too mobile'! She gets very 'restless' and goes walkabout, which is fine when it's indoors, not fine when she makes a 'break for the border'! She was prescribed a low dose of Diazapam to help 'soothe' her, which did help for a while. I'm wondering is something similar might make your poor mum easier in her mind about what is happening to her now? I know 'medication' is controversial, but surely, now, as life draws to a close, as it must in the nineties, with other health problems, and dementia only tightening its vile grip, the absolutely priority for them is 'peace of mind' - surely far better to be 'snoozy but calm' rather than 'alert and restlessly distressed'?

I believe Diazapam (which I take myself when life gets too stressy!) can be tricky in the elderly as it can induce 'falls' and unsteadiness, but if your mum is already non-mobile, maybe that wouldn't matter so much??

Hoping some kind of amelioration can be found for your poor mum - kind regards, Jenny
Sorry - forgot to say my MIL is in her nineties too, and also in a dementia care home.
Someone posted a link the other day to Alzheimer's UK factsheets on dealing with dementia behaviour. They seemed to say that distress was because of an underlying cause. I'm wondering if she is in pain when being moved as it only seems to show at those times, but due to the dementia is unable to express it?
I knew someone once who broke a hip but was quite happy when still and so just didn't move. She too was doubly incontinent rather than move and so stayed in the same chair for several days before the carers realised it wasn't just stubbornness or dementia
Just a thought
Xx MrsA
My husband who is 71 has vascular dementia. Also had strokes. He's in a nursing home. When he went there at Easter,able to walk using a zimmerframe. He's unable to stand now and losing the use of his left arm. He hates the hoist most of the time. He doesn't have physio, at the home. I think the brain forgets what to do. Several of the residents seem to have lost the ability to walk. Suppose it depends which part of the brain deteriorates. Heartbreaking.
Sadly, I wonder if Pet has got a point. Maybe this is simply the horrible onward march of dementia, that is now removing from her the ability to walk??

As you will already know, dementia does eventually kill - the brain simply closes down once and for all. By the time my SIL's mother died, she was simply lying inert in bed, staring at nothing, completely irresponsive to anyone and could not be 'roused'. She had to be carried on a stretcher to the ambulance when she was finally moved into a care home (where she died shortly afterwards - simply the end of the line....)

Again, I wonder what the care home staff think is going on here? They've seen so much dementia, they should surely have some idea???

Mrs A - how dreadful, to think of someone having a broken hip and no one realising. I suppose, though, it didn't cause pain if she was unmoving.

This may sound 'odd' but in a way, maybe when people develop severe dementia, we almost have to regard them as vets regard animals - ie, they have to look for behaviours that indicate underlying problems, as the animals cannot, of course, communicate with us as to what is wrong????
Thanks for your replies. No, Mrs A, I don't think mum is in pain. She is very "with it" and able to tell us if she is in pain. How awful to have broken a hip like that. Pet 66, I think you could be right. It could just be the dementia. Mum has had some health problems since moving into the home, which is why no-one is quite sure what has caused the physical deterioration. I would like to research wheelchairs which can be used all day, so that she doesn't have to be transferred constantly. If anyone knows of a website or resource tool to help me find such a thing, I'd be very grateful. I saw her this afternoon and the distress caused to her when transferring to a wheelchair is dreadful. She can't go on like this.
Hi Penny
My Mum hated being hoisted but the OT provided her with 2 slings, one for 'toileting' and one for transfers. The difference was in comfort and the feeling on being 'safe'. However the greatest help was the attitude of the great care team she had. The 'girls' laughed and joked, told her what was happening and just made it more like fun than frightening. When she moved into her Home they initially used their own slings, which were painful for her. I took in her own slings and the toileting one was better but as far as I know they never use the transfer only one and never laugh and joke with her, so once more it's a problem. My Mum has very little sight and it's hard to be 'handled' and moved by people who are just 'getting on with the job', especially when you can't see what's happening and no one tells you.
Penny. I would love to get hubby a better wheelchair. Sometimes he's in his for ages. Gets very 'uncomfy' when in there for ages. Then thinks he can get out. Makes me anxious. The trouble is I know it would be used for others. That would be Ok, unless he needed it. It's happened with a recliner chair that a family purchased between them, for a male resident Lots of times some one else is in the chair. His poor wife hasn't the heart to get them turfed out. Such a dilemma. Also happens with a corner pillow she bought him. Trials and tribulations of nursing homes.
Hubby is well cared for though.
Hi Penny and Pet too
Mum has had trouble with an aching back and being uncomfortable in her wheelchair. She has two blow up 'lino' type cushions now, although they don't always remember to put them on the chair which is annoying. She has her own wheelchair, well plastered with her name and kept in her room.