We're having Beef Dementia tonight

Yep, my MIL has been getting progressively worse the last 5-6 years or so. Reading what other people have posted about family with dementia, I’m glad that she is still able to do things like dress herself, feed herself, etc. She just can’t remember anything from one minute to the next. She used to be on about a 15-20 minute loop but nowadays it’s much shorter. When my wife and I get together with her parents for breakfast or dinner, she will say hi to me half a dozen times in the first five minutes. I just smile and say “Hi again!” You really do need to keep a sense of humor otherwise you will go crazy.

The scary thing is, my MIL came from a large family (I want to say 7 or 8 siblings) and except for one sister that died relatively young, all but one have wound up with some form of dementia. Which tells me that it runs in the family and I worry about when my wife will start to show symptoms. (She’s already a little scatter-brained, but I think she gets that from her dad.)

My mom is having more and more trouble finding the bathroom. She usually knows what to do when she gets there, I just have to show her the way. Getting dressed might take 45 minutes so I’ve been helping her pick out an outfit and laying it out on the bed.

A couple of months ago she wandered outside in the middle of the night and got lost. She was knocking on a neighbor’s door trying to get in. They called the police, who noticed our front door which she had left open (we live in an apartment complex). So I woke up at 2:30 am to the police in the hall outside my bedroom saying “Police Department!” I hope I don’t ever wake up to that again.

I play some of her favorite music for her, which always cheers her up. Two of her favorites are the soundtrack to My Fair Lady and “The Two Sides of the Smothers Brothers” (especially the side that’s straight music, no comedy). She also likes the Andrews Sisters, Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole and stuff like that. She can’t follow the plot of TV shows so we’ve been listening to Pandora a lot lately. It’s amazing what music can do.

Bumbershoot, put a latch on the front door, up near the top of the door. Lock it when you go to bed. It should keep Mom inside while you sleep at night.

I did that. She can’t go out now without me knowing. Sorry I didn’t mention it in my previous post! I also turn off the circuit breaker to the stove every night so she can’t try to cook a midnight meal for the imaginary little girl she sees in our apartment.

Yes, wandering can be a very dangerous behavior. You should figure out some way to prevent her from leaving the house at night. Besides a latch out of her reach, there are also door knob covers that prevent the knob from working unless you press a special button.

Also, congratulations on your good work. I cared for my mother with dementia for a couple of years and it can be very hard. She refused to consider assisted living and was in her house far longer than was safe for her. I would get almost daily phone calls from her, telling me she wanted to go home (of course she was at her home). A few weeks ago she fell, and never really recovered from that. She passed away last week.

Does she try to cook up beef dementia for her?

I’m very sorry to hear about your mom. My mom was initially opposed to assisted living as well but she brought it up herself a few weeks ago and is now much more open to the idea. One of her childhood friends is in a nursing home and is very happy there, which helps a lot.

Edit: I hear “I want to go home” a lot.

She hasn’t yet! She did try to cook an egg in the microwave which didn’t end well (egg splatters all over the inside).

Good luck OP. I’m very lucky that my Mom is still very sharp at 89. She did break her hip 4 years ago and is now home bound. I do all her shopping and take care of her house. She’s 100 miles away, so I just stay with her every other weekend. We get along great, and have nice visits. Sometimes play first addition Trivial Pursuit.

My mom used to be very good at Trivial Pursuit. She probably won more games than anyone in our family. She was a voracious reader too but now she can’t follow a plot and keeps reading the first chapter (or first few paragraphs) of a book over and over. I found some of her old “Chicken Soup for the Soul” books and those are working out well since the stories are so short.

The stove safety precautions are good. When I did homecare (20+ years ago… I just realized my Ask the thread was 10 years ago) I had a couple … the wife was mentally alert but bedridden with rheumatoid arthritis (and an addiction to Tylenol 3 and Lorazepam) and the husband had dementia but was able bodied. The home care staff started removing the fuses from the stove and storing them in an old coffee can in the cupboard, so that he wouldn’t set the house on fire by turning on the stove and forgetting it was on.

Make sure your smoke detectors are in good working order and also invest in some Carbon Monoxide detectors for yours and your mother’s safety.
I have replied to your pm.

My thanks to Mona Lisa Simpson for her info and advice, both here and in our PMs. And again, my thanks to everyone who posted here. Your support, advice and humor are greatly appreciated.

My mom is entering a memory care facility on Friday. We toured the place on Monday and she loved it. “Sign me up!” she said, two minutes into the tour.

I’m so glad you found a good assisted living facility for her and that she wants to go! That’s golden. I love that you and your mom could laugh together over the Beef Dementia. I’m going to share that with my sister, whose husband has dementia; she needs all the chuckles she can get. Such a cruel disease. The long goodbye, indeed.

That’s fantastic! Visit often. A big move like that can be very confusing and may trigger more deterioration but they will get her into a routine as quickly as possible. Routines are important to those in memory care.

Thanks, nelliebly and carnut. Coincidentally my mom’s mom was named Nellie Carson which is close to nelliebly carnut. My three brothers all live in the Albuquerque area so at least one of us will dropping in every day. We’ll keep taking her out to micro-breweries or local parks for picnics for as long as she can handle it.

I was so worried that she would hate the idea of a nursing home. It was such a relief when she said she loved place. And as an added bonus my awesome sister-in-law may get a job there.

I thought I had mentioned my sister-in-law upthread but that must have been in one of the PMs to Mona Lisa Simpson (very cool username). My sister-in-law has been coming over and helping Mom take a shower, get dressed and so on. My whole family has been so helpful in so many ways.