Your Questions Answered About Aging and Alzheimer's Care

I am concerned most that the assisted living community doesn't want her there and have stated that. They should be well trained to know how to work with demanding and manipulative people. That environment will make it harder for her to feel like she belongs. Someone in the Assisted Living needs to "get on her side." In this way, that person befriends your grandmother along with all her foibles. She doesn't take sides on issues but she unconditionally cares for your grandmother even through the tough times. Believe me, it's no cake walk. This is not something that will take a few weeks or even a month. This relationship will have to grow. But if the relationship grows, she is more likely to begin to fit in.

When someone has dementia, by nature of the disease, she will frequently not remember what happened the day before. As a result, much emotional energy can be spent trying to make her understand something she can't recall and doesn't agree with anyway. I would recommend to your Mom and Aunt, to avoid getting sucked into this all the time. Change the subject and move on to something else. If your grandmother continues, they need to just say "I love you but I can't stay here and be hurt by your words, I'll look forward to seeing you later." And leave. I know it sounds harsh but the more she is allowed to be abusive, the more she will do it. The first few times your family has to walk away or stop a phone conversation will be difficult, but they should come back or call back shortly and try a conversation about something else. Unfortunately, because your grandmother has likely behaved in like manner most of her life, it will not go away, but at least, it will help stop some of the emotional abuse.

ELAYNE, Sacramento, Calif.: My husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's dementia (actually it's Pugelistic Dementia....and has having a real time with seeing himself in the mirrors and thinking I have let someone into the house. I have covered most of the mirrors, but he looks under the covers, screams at "the man", and tonight tried, with some success to smash "the man" ie, broke the mirror. Is this a normal paranoia? He gets very angry and says he is going to get rid of him with a gun (has none) hammer, or a knife. My question is: what kind of help would you suggest for me when this is going on?

BEVILLE: You are brilliant to cover the mirrors, windows and sometimes we have to cover pictures and TV because they think those people are telling them what to do. The fact that he is pulling up the drape over the mirror is his way of trying to look out a window. It's going to be tough for you for awhile but, you need to buy a picture or pictures that will completely cover the mirror along with other shiny objects and have someone make sure it is secure to the wall.

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