Your Questions Answered About Aging and Alzheimer's Care

I'm sure you already do this, but try not to dispute whet he "sees", "that man". It is as real to him as can be. Try to redirect him and start talking about something else, reassuring him all the while. If you see him getting agitated around the house, see what's on TV and if he's looking in a specific direction. People with this disease are sensitive to movement and sound, so keep the TV low or just have music from his younger days when you both were courting. I would also suggest that you get with his Doctor and see if there is anything he can take for agitation, just to get through this. His Doctor can help decide whether this is necessary or not. It is most helpful to the Doctor if you can come to the visit prepared with an average number of times you husband behaves this way, along with the time of day it usually happens. Doctors do better with hard facts instead of blanket statements like, "He gets agitated". If your husband could become offended about a discussion like this, just call the office and have the information faxed for the doctor to review before the visit.

Finally, for now, remove all knives, including kitchen knives, hammers, etc. and use them when he is under supervision and not agitated. If you're like me I will forget where I hid them so make a note to yourself, if you can find that.

CARLOS, Chapel Hill, N.C.: My mom refuses to take any medication. How can we give her medication if she refuses to have it?

BEVILLE: I am assuming your Mom has Dementia or Alzheimer's disease. This issue has been a recurring one for families and Elder Care Communities throughout my career. Different approaches work for different elders and at different functional levels. You can even go to some of the Alzheimer's Websites like the Alzheimer's Foundation or Google care giving of elders with dementia and under that, put refuses to take medication and you will get all kinds of approaches. Bottom line is that there is no "one size fits all" way to handle this. Not knowing the medications and your Mom's functional level would make it hard for me to make a recommendation but there are a few things to consider as you look at options to try:

1. Some days the approach will work and others it won't.

2. Select the time of day when she seems most occupied with something else.

3. Don't make a big deal out of taking the medication because as soon as that happens, you might as well pack up and wait a few hours.

4. Try not to give medication in front of others. In some elder's minds, it is a sign of weakness and they don't want anyone to know.

5. Elders sometimes fear swallowing and choking. If you sense that may be the case, get with her Doctor and see if there is any other way to get her the medication in the Doctor's office or as an injectable, topical or long acting.

I wish I knew more about her, but the internet will be invaluable. I will admit that I did have one patient, several years ago, that I can honestly say, we tried EVERYTHING and nothing ever worked until she got to the place that we could rub a medication on her arm and place another under her tongue.

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