How to Adapt and Care for My Wife With Progressive Alzheimer's?

2 answers | Last updated: Sep 12, 2016
Linky asked...

My son is the co-care giver for my wife (and me sometimes). We are having a little difficulty with this process as we have a difference of opinion on how to properly be caregivers when it comes to eliminating or organizing her personal possessions like hankies, underwear, socks, nail polish or jewelry. One of us believes in organizing and narrowing down the choices, the other believes in leaving things as they are because they are important memories of who gave them to her, brings her pleasure, enjoyment and security and if she doesn't see the item, she could forget all those good memories and therefore should not be changed or removed. One of us believes that Mother should continue to use paper towels to clean up as she always has and the other is trying to get her to use the more enviromental cloth towels.

The other personality change is outward emotion. Mother used to cry at a sad movie or a sad story. Now, she shows that she feels sad but she no longer cries about anything no matter how sad. Is this a common Alzheimer trait?

Mother is also very pleasant and easy and we are very thankful. She still takes care of herself even though her memory is at the instance level and occasionaly she will express a thought about a past occurence or person.

Community Answers

Gorilla gaurd answered...

My answer/comment is about the first part of this question. I am the only caregiver for my wife who is in the "middle" stage of AD. We deal with hoarding and rummaging of most of her possessions,,,and she has plenty. I gradually put away or get rid of clothing items that she no longer uses (due to meds, she has put on weight so some stuff does not fit). She has not noticed me removing things. Same thing for jewelry. She has some good stuff like a couple of expensive watches which went missing. She insisted they were stolen by our housekeeper (she fired the housekeeper). I much later found the watches inside a sock at the back of her underwear drawer. So I am putting the good jewelry in a safe place gradually. What I am trying to do is reduce the number of items without obviously reducing her stuff to too-few things....not an easy task, but gradually I am doing it. This annoying habit of rummaging and hoarding is very tough when tied in with other symptoms of this cruel disease.

Ca-claire answered...

Hi Linky! Gorilla Gaurd has some good suggestions. Here's my 50 cents worth. When we moved our parents out of their home to an Independent Living center for seniors, my siblings and I went through their things, and weeded out the furniture that would not fit in the downsized place. This included clothing that they would no longer be wearing (moving from very hot area in country to warm area in city). We brought up the costume jewelry and good jewelry of Mom's, but organized it in a canvas thing that hangs in the closet and the pockets in it are clear vinyl so she could see what she had.

We had a junk store come and pick up a lot of things that were basically trash to us, but were usable things that others might like. They took 3 loads away in a van. Dad's wood working equipment mostly went to one of my brothers, as he does some very nice woodworking. Their fancy china and crystal came to my home in the custom buffet (9 ft. long - 36" high, 36" deep) that Dad had made out of mahogany to hold the party goods (crystal, china, special serving dishes, etc). We have yet to go through these to decide who wants what - sibs say they don't want anything, but we'll see. Mom is now gone. Dad wanted her things out of the Assisted Living Apartment after she passed, so I took care of that.

When someone is still alive, it's best to only take a few things away. I took valuable things, like Mom's antique Rolex watch away the 2nd time she broke the mainspring by overwinding it. I had it repaired, and it is put away in my home.

If there's closet space, just leave the clothes there - it may upset her to see empty spaces, even if she doesn't wear them anymore. Take away anything that she could hurt herself with (high heals, blowdryer, curling irons, iron and ironing board, knives, etc.)

As for the conservation issue, I would let her use paper towels. Seniors have such a difficult time remembering to clean, so if she's used to paper towels, let her have all she wants. Anything to help her stay clean. She may not notice if a towel is dirty, or if it hasn't been laundered in a long time. It's not worth the fight to try to get her to switch - she will never remember.

Best wishes to you. Glad that you have a son helping with the care Linky! I see so many older people at my Dad's facility that get NO visitors and leave the care of their relative to the facility.