How do I help my 47 year old daughter with Alzheimer's who is constantly crying?

3 answers | Last updated: Sep 17, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

my daughter of 47 yrs old has younger onset alz. at this point she is totally dependent on others for her care. i want to say she cries constantly as she is aware of her condition in addition she misses her home and her husband (estranged). how do i help her?

Expert Answers

Ron Kauffman is a certified senior advisor (CSA), senior lifestyle radio host, syndicated newspaper columnist, and the author of Caring for a Loved One With Alzheimer's Disease. In addition, Kauffman is also the primary caregiver for his mother, who has Alzheimer's.

Dear Anonymous:

I am so sorry that you're dealing with such an incredible situation. Early onset Alzheimer's is devastating, and your daughter, at age 47, was among a small group of very young to have been afflicted.

It sounds as if you have her in a facility, and that she is still aware and cognizant enough to realize that she has lost almost everything she had and loved. That has to be difficult for her and you.

Honestly, other than showing compassion for her grief, there is little that you can "do" for her. I suggest that you talk with her neurologist about treating her depression. The neurologist might suggest your daughter see a geriatric psychologist who has experience dealing with this type of problem, albeit usually with much older patients.

Ultimately, it may be decided that medications are a possible solution to mitigate her depression. But the cause of her problem, the reality of her disease and enormous feelings of loss, unfortunately cannot be fixed.

It would be of some help if you can solicit family, including her estranged husband, to put aside their personal feelings and pay an occasional visit to your daughter for the sake of her mental health. Ask that they just spend a few minutes talking with or to her, and reflect on the good memories they shared - nothing confrontational or negative. They can say that they are sorry she can't come home, or go out etc. and they wish she could, but most of all they have to be gentle and understanding. A hug and smile can go a long way when there are no words that can be spoken.

In addition to that, check with the facility and ask what programs they might have that she can be allowed and encouraged to attend - music or entertainment - that could take your daughter's mind off herself for even short periods of time.

Early onset Alzheimer's disease tends to progress more rapidly than later onset Alzheimer's. Time will both further debilitate your daughter and erase many of the remaining memories of home, family and her husband. Until that happens, do the best you can to remain understanding. I'm sure it's heartbreaking. Take care of yourself to maintain your strength, health and emotional balance.

I wish you the very best in this most difficult situation.

Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

Thank you very much for your advise. My daughter lives with me and seeing her decline very quickly is very hard. You recommend she take anti-depressants. She has been for many years. She recently had to be hospitalized due to an inflamed bladder as she hadn't urinated in 24 hours. They removed all medication and is now only on Aricept, Namenda and Axona. She was on Citalopram, Buspirone and Trazadone and I was told that they could cause urine retention. I was ready to stop these antidepressants as they didn't really help. She has an appointment next month with a psychiatrist, As to having her estranged husband visit her, this was one of his complaints as he couldn't handle her crying. I thought the crying was due to his constant verbal abuse, but, even in my house without verbal abuse she cries. She even cries when she takes a shower. She is afraid to get into the tub and won't lift her legs to get in. I am waiting for the State of IL to come out and assess a modification to the bathroom.

I do what I can and take it one day at a time. I am grateful that she pretty much lets me know when she has to go to the bathroom, though she needs assistance. I now have her in diapers just in case, as she has had an accident a couple of times. I really appreciate your taking the time to address my concerns. It truly helps.

A fellow caregiver answered...

There is a medication called Nuedexta, used for PBA...PseudoBulbar Affect, that is having positive results for uncontrollable crying in individuals with Alzheimer's or dementia. I am not a proponent of medicating affected individuals, but sometimes the medication does ease the symptoms. I would talk with your doctor and possibly try Nuedexta and see if your daughter responds. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.