They interfere in your personal life, make claims and bills for their ruined youth, comment on your relationship with your husband. They feed your growing offspring with non-dietary buns, intervene with their intercession in the educational process, or, conversely, require checking diaries and notebooks when you finally decide to give your son or daughter complete independence. We habitually attribute this to age quirks, bad temper and generational conflict. But there are times when you need to be careful. Dementia – senile dementia – is really a disease. It comes unnoticed, according to the first symptoms, people around do not even realize that it is time to see a doctor, and miss the precious time when treatment can be effective. Today we will tell you about seven symptoms of dementia that are commonly mistaken for a bad temper. When they appear at the grandmother or grandfather, you should seek the help of a psychiatrist as soon as possible.
The weather is rainier in autumn, and people are more talkative in old age, folk wisdom says. Another grandfather, like some kind of a bayun cat, can tell a fascinating story from his fighting youth 30 times a day. At first, she is really attractive. But by the third retelling it is boring, and by the tenth it is infuriating.
Doctors call this perseveration. It makes no sense to tell your grandfather that he got you with his stories: he really does not remember that he has already told all this, and will think that you simply do not want to communicate with him.
If an elderly person lives separately, he can constantly call, causing a lot of trouble: he does not remember that he called 10 minutes ago. It is pointless to swear, you can just turn off the phone at night, and use an answering machine or caller ID during the day.
A special case is the incessant requests to take him home (when he is already at home). Don’t argue. The best answer would be an attempt to calm down, switch attention, saying, for example: “My husband will come home from work and take us, but for now let’s cook dinner.” By the way, such fees home are an absolute and urgent indication for contacting a psychiatrist.
Brushing your teeth, taking a bath, changing clothes regularly become meaningless activities for an elderly person with dementia. And the problem is not that the grandmother sets a bad example for the child, the problem is that the grandmother goes into illness. Therefore, our task is to remind you of the need to take care of yourself. This is difficult: reminders cause an understandable feeling of shame, fear, humiliation. If an elderly person does not want to wash, there is no point in raising his tone and insisting. When faced with a flat-out rejection, try to revisit the issue later when his mood changes. A person who does not want to wash in the morning can wash himself in the evening on his own initiative, but confrontation will only exacerbate the negative attitude towards hygiene. However, in order to prevent a number of diseases, in particular infectious ones, it will be necessary to establish a hygienic minimum and monitor its implementation: washing hands before eating and after using the toilet, daily washing of the perineum, full bathing at least twice a week, brushing teeth 2 times a day.
Feeling constant anxiety and self-doubt against the background of memory problems, older people often hide things, and then either do not remember where they put them, or completely forget what they hid. In this situation, the only way not to lose an important document or valuable item is not to leave it in an accessible place.
Losing keys can be very frustrating. Get a spare kit and put it in a safe place that grandparents don’t have access to. And remember the places where the old man consistently hides items. Check stash areas regularly for perishable foods that can cause food poisoning.
You can install cameras in two or three places that will record what is happening. In this case, the problem of permanent losses can be solved radically.
When a grandmother begins to accuse her own children of the worst sins, this is another reason to suspect dementia. Forgetting about his recent actions and not finding things in the usual place, a sick person is sure that he was robbed. Of course, those who live with him or often come to visit first of all fall under suspicion. Don’t take accusations to heart. Don’t argue, it will make things worse. Grandmother, considering you a thief, will easily add to the list of accusations that you have not been distinguished by chastity since childhood, and you don’t love your homeland, and you are cruel towards the weak … The best substitute for a showdown will be a successful search for a “stolen” thing.
By the way, do not be too lazy to explain to your grandchildren that the words and actions of the grandmother are the result of her illness. If she constantly shares her suspicions with the neighbors behind your back, there is a chance that others will believe in the most ridiculous stories about your heartlessness and malice – so it is better to warn the neighbors too.
Dementia gradually destroys self-control in a person. This can manifest itself in pestering others, in public undressing. If it comes to this, you will hardly doubt that we are talking about an illness, and not just about “senile leaps” … Try to react calmly, sometimes an old person is only worried about uncomfortable clothes or uncomfortable room temperature (older people are more sensitive to it, than us). The most annoying thing is that public exposure can happen in the presence of beloved grandchildren. It is difficult for them to explain why the grandmother, who until then had raised them for ten years while you were working, suddenly did something like this. Apparently, the best way out would be to honestly say that she was ill, and most importantly, to take care not to leave her alone with the children anymore.
Usually, all the problems associated with dementia intensify in the evening. The “internal clock” gets lost and the old people begin to confuse day and night: he sleeps during the day, and at night he wanders around the apartment like a ghost.
Try, if possible, to use your grandparents as much as possible during the day: involve them in household chores, go for a walk with them before going to bed. Don’t encourage naps during the day. You will be surprised how noticeable the effect can be if you exclude sugar, caffeine and salt from your grandmother’s diet. But with sleeping pills be careful: they can increase confusion.
Don’t take aggressive action personally. Even if outwardly they are directed at you, it is only because you are nearby. The patient does not change his attitude towards you personally, but his reactions to the world around him as a whole.
When aggressive actions are directed at you, do not give in to the first impulse. A well-known technique works well: take a deep breath, step back from the patient and count to ten. This will give both you and him a chance to calm down. Remember: an emotional response will only make things worse. Instead of a “symmetrical” answer, try to distract the granny’s attention from the situation that caused the aggression.
Where to go
All the described situations are a reason to seek help from a psychiatrist or at least a neurologist. But there are two serious problems: firstly, the grandmother (grandfather) does not consider herself sick and does not want to go to the doctor; secondly, therapists in district clinics usually diagnose “age, what do you want” and do not offer effective solutions.
Therefore, the best solution is to find a specialized center (in some cities they are called memory rooms).
- Memory Laboratory at the Moscow Medical University. Sechenov. st. Rossolimo, 11, tel. 8 499 136-05-74
- Center for the Study of Alzheimer’s Disease and Associated Disorders at the Scientific Center for Mental Health of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. Kashirskoye shosse, 34, 6th branch, tel. 8 499 615-63-29
In St. Petersburg:
- Memory room at the City Geriatric Medical and Social Center. Embankment of the Fontanka River, 148, tel. 8 812 251-22-78
- Department of Rehabilitation of Neurological Patients of the Research Psychoneurological Institute named after Bekhterev. st. Bekhtereva, 4, tel. 8 812 412-90-42
Residents of other cities
can search for information about specialized centers on the memini.ru website in the “Find a Doctor” section. The portal regularly updates information about such centers.