Help with Dementia/Alzheimer’s

pseabolt Posts: 48 ✭✭✭
edited October 2020 in General Health

Hi guys, I’m sorry that I’ve been awol for the last four or five months but I’ve been dealing with some pretty heavy stuff. I need some help.

I guess I’ll start with a little back history. I’m an only child (and although I desperately wanted more, my 21 year old son is also an only child), my mom died 13 years ago. She was my best friend and the person that she was is still my guide for the person that I want to be. My mom has two remaining sisters, one lives in Connecticut and might as well be on another planet for the purposes of this post. Then there’s my Aunt Pat, the subject of this post. Aunt Pat was never able to have children so she was always like a second mom to me, a second grandmother to my son.

I knew that she was “slipping” a little mentally, but for limited amounts of time, in her own surroundings and with people that she knows well, she covers it pretty well so I didn’t realize the extent of it.

I talked to her and to my uncle about seeing a doctor but she would become very angry and refuse and he wouldn’t push the issue. She never was one to go to doctors, she believed in healing through food and vitamins, I don’t think that she ever got into herbal medicine but there were enough vitamin bottles in this house to stock a pharmacy.

My uncle had congestive heart failure and thought that he knew more than the doctors and constantly “adjusted” the amounts of his meds that he would take.

I guess you can see where this is going. He died of a heart attack back in May. They are both in their mid to late seventies.

Since he died, I’ve gotten to spend a handful of nights in my own home, God bless my husband for his understanding. My aunt is much worse than I knew and will eventually have to go to a nursing home but for as long as I can, I would like to keep her at home.

I work a full time and I’m coming to the realization that I’m going to have to hire in some help, one of the neighbors was helping during the day but suddenly cut us off without warning, without a word and won’t even answer phone calls. I have a suspicion of what happened but it’s neither here nor there, I’ll just have to find someone else.

SO, all of this backstory is to get to the point of my post. Aunt Pat will not go to a doctor and unfortunately, I can’t strap her into a car seat and force her like I could a child. Lol. She gets paranoid and goes into rages, not daily or anything like that but often enough that with everything else that I’m trying to deal with it just tears my nerves all to Heck.

I have found that it triggers some past trauma that I thought I had dealt with and I end up going into my bedroom and locking the door while she stalks the house, talking to herself (invariably about me and how I think I know everything).

So my question is this, does anyone know of some sort of herb or supplement that I can give her to help her stay calm? I’m not trying to drug her into oblivion, just to level out her moods a bit. I don’t have to worry about any medication interactions because she’s not on any medication.

If you’re going to tell me to take her to the doctor, save your breath because she will not go. Physically, she’s healthy as a horse, so let’s pretend we are a hundred years ago and Big Pharma wasn’t a thing.

Do any of you kind people have any recommendations for me? Thanks in advance and I apologize for the long long post. ❤️


  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,820 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @pseabolt First off, I am sorry to hear of your troubles. Your love for your aunt is impressive.

    It sounds like your aunt has the angry type of dementia, not a pleasant thing.

    The easiest thing would be to get some multivitamins into her to cover the possibility of vitamin deficiency causes. Next, start feeding her coconut oil as it supposedly has helped others.

    Music and dance are supposed to help recall memories.

    Over time, I have used chamomile, valerian, lemon balm, passionflower, CBD and melatonin to relax me for sleep. Any or all should help relax your aunt.

    Don't hurt yourself by being a caretaker. My sister's mother-in-law was just installed into an assisted living facility and seems happy there with her cat, the only living thing she has been nice to for years. She had been verbally abusive to all family members around her. (That move was triggered by her going outside the house, falling down and then unable to pick herself up again. Her falling had been an issue for several years, resulting in moving into her daughter's home. After her daughter pointed out that she needed someone with her to prevent these accidents, her mom took an entire bottle of painkillers. After the emergency trip to the hospital and psychiatric evaluation, the mom denied the suicide attempt and accused her daughter of elder abuse. The mom is now not talking to any of the kids. )

  • shllnzl
    shllnzl Posts: 1,820 ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2020 has a current blog dealing with herbs for the brain.

    Also, this link gives you a booklet and signs you up for an Alzheimer's webinar:

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,633 admin

    @shllnzl Thanks for posting this. Looks interesting. Always looking for preventative solutions instead of treatment. All of the foods listed in the booklet are good for our whole bodies not just our brains.

  • JodieDownUnder
    JodieDownUnder Posts: 1,483 admin

    @pseabolt it's a fragile and demanding position you're in. Remember to look after yourself. I've done lots of research on dementia and Alzheimer's as my wife and I do not want to go down that road. I've read articles, watched webinars, docos and all the research leads to gut health. Herbs that support gut health, brain health and immune system are many and varied. How do you know what the body needs? What may work for some doesn't work for others. So I've come up with the practice that if I can supply my body with a range of herbs, food, supplements, then it can decide what to use and when. So how is this done? Well I try to keep it simple, morning smoothie loaded with herbs, probiotics, superfoods, vit & minerals. Fresh foods, nuts, mushrooms. I try to keep processed food out of the diet.

    So herbs that help. Brain function, ashwaganda, gota kola, calamus, frankincense, rosemary. Gut health, fermented veg, onions, dandelion, burdock. Immune support, astragalus, wormwood, chaga/reishi/cordyceps mushrooms. These are the main ones I've gleaned on my journey. I'm sure there are more and others more knowledgeable than me, can also help you. I would also suggest CBD oil, a very important addition to the diet. Hope this gets you started. All the best.

  • VickiP
    VickiP Posts: 586 ✭✭✭✭

    I don't have any suggestions beyond what has already been given. I did work in a nursing home for a number of years and when that became to much for me, both emotionally and physically, I went into home health care. I will say you have made a good decision to keep her home as long as possible, familiar surroundings are helpful. Often times when folks see their lives start to spiral out of control they lash out at the nearest person, usually the very person they depend on. My father had dementia in the later stages of his life. He would even get physically angry. We got hospice to come in once a week to track his health, give a little therapy, personal care and to give my Mom a break. As he got worse they would come in more often and finally they would come whenever we called. If something like that is available in your area I would suggest it. You are truly a kind and loving person to take this on as is your husband. Hang in there and know others care.

  • dimck421
    dimck421 Posts: 203 ✭✭✭
    edited September 2020

    @pseabolt I agree with @VickiP . I walked this journey with my beloved daddy. He battled Alzheimer's for years. Often windows would open, and he was fully him. Other times, he dwelled behind a vale, reaching out, mentally. As difficult as it is for the suffering one, it is, as difficult for the one loving them and caring for them.

    Your aunt will strike out at times, but always remember (it hurts deeply in the moment) it is not really her, striking out. It is the condition. Messages are not being sent properly across the wires. I brought Daddy back to the farm, his farm, for his last six weeks of life. He loved being back. He was calm and not confrontational as he was, while with Ma.

    Hospice joined the team, at first, just checking on him, taking vitals, talking with him, visiting more frequently, as time passed. I provided all his care, made sure he witnessed his sunsets, made sure he saw the children and animals running about the farm, made sure he knew he was very loved. Quiet talks and attention made him happy. Hospice arrived with every call I placed. They had answers to every question, no matter the time. No question was a bad one.

    Hospice was here, when he passed and handled all the necessary calls and documentation, and gave the family support, just as if they were part of the family. Do check into such a service. They help as little or as much as needed or desired. Daddy chose very limited "outside" care. He was a very private man. Fortunately, I was able to render all the necessary care, outside of direct medical assistance. We found services through the one and only hospital in the area. Once under Hospice care, a doctor oversees every detail, and nurses are the doctor's eyes and ears. Your loved one will not need to visit a medical office.

    I am sorry I was of little to no help. Daddy had medical care, from beginning to end, for dementia/Alzheimer's . Medically, not an awful lot can be done, once the evil condition moves in. Remember to take care of you, while on this journey. My prayers are with you. Peace be with you.

  • I was a professional caregiver for 8 years and took care of my father-in-law for three. It depends on your personality, patience level, your heart, and what kind of realtionship you had with the family member before their memory went. My husband could not do much with his dad who was a retired military commander. He was a man who drank until three years before his death, ate junk food, and wouldn't listen to anyone. When he came to live with us he had lost all his money to scams, his memory loss was in in the later stages and had leukemia as well. He would start fights intentionally with my husband, so I would be the only one who could handle him. As a caregiver, I knew his personality would end up causing him to be locked up in a facility so I took care of him until the last 4 weeks of his life. At the end I was completely exhausted and run down caring for him 24 hours a day. If I tried to hire someone to help me, he would cause so much trouble they would quit. Hospice would not service us, because the doctors would not state he had only 6 months to live. He played golf right up until he went down. His belief system was if I cannot eat what I want and play golf, I don't want to live. When he could no longer walk enough or mentally function to play golf, it got ugly. That last 4 weeks he was combative with anyone who tried to help him. At that point he couldn't play golf and was angry at everyone. It took 3 nurses to handle him when he would try to hit them. He fell repeatedly because he insisted on walking when he couldn't function at that point. He was 250 pounds and still had strength enough to try and slug people. It is not always possible to keep them at home. It is not always possible to work with them. I did take care of him at home until the last 4 weeks when he would fall and refuse help. Mentally at that point no one could get him to cooperate.

    I worked with patients in nursing homes, that took 2 to 3 staff to give them a shower. Men often become violent to those they love and the people trying to take care of them. One of the girls I worked with got her ribs broken by a patient who wouldn't let go of her. The decision on if you can take care of your family member is a very complex issue. The journey changes from day to day. They is no one who can tell you how long a patient will be compliant or able to be worked with. I took several jobs, private duty, where our lives were put in danger from patients who would kick, bite, take their fists to you. If your family member is accepting of help, it is a beautiful blessing. I worked with a few who were but there were more that became nightmares for both their family and the helpers. Only you know yourself, the situation and the family member and what is the best situation for your family. I have not regretted taking care of his dad but it nearly destroyed my health in the end. Hospice is wonderful if they accept your family member. I fully support the wonderful job they do with families and patients. I wish that had worked as an option for us. You do need a diagnosis of impending death within a year with many of them. If one hospice says no, try another and sometimes their evaluation and the criteria is different. I worked with a patient who was horrible, in the last stages and was turned down by the first one and accepted by another one. Caregiving takes so much out of you but if you can do is rewarding to allow them to be home with the people and things they love.

    In the early stage of memory loss there are supplements that slow down the process. In some cases, they can help a lot. One of the worst causes of memory and behavior issues in the medications they are on. Often memory loss is a side effect of the drugs given them. Deficiencies is one of the other main issues. Diet is another one. Obesity is another issue for the development of Alzheimers and memory issues. I have spent the last two years taking classes on memory and brain health since I suffered a concussion and ended up with Chronic Lyme. Not only have I recovered from my memory issues but from most of the long term effects from chronic Lyme. I am 69 as of this year and have recovered the majority of my functions but it was hard.

  • SherryA
    SherryA Posts: 314 ✭✭✭

    My mom has dementia, and our story is very similar. We didn't realize how far along her dementia had gotten until she broke her hip and I came to stay with her. I use herbs and food as medicine myself, and to tell you the truth I tried everything I could think of with my mom. Nothing really made a difference. Not saying nothing will make a difference for your aunt, though! Everybody is different. You could try kava for her anxiety.

    Eventually I had to move my mom into assisted living, because I just couldn't keep her safe 24 hours a day by myself. She's actually been much calmer since she's been in assisted living. She just has one room to navigate, and she no longer worries about things like bills and getting the house painted and the trees trimmed and such. The day she moved she just let go of all of that, and she's been much calmer for it.

    I am sending you light and energy. Please do take care of yourself. If you get depleted, you won't be any help to your aunt. ❤️❤️

  • Grounded
    Grounded Posts: 153 ✭✭✭

    My dad had Alzheimer's and my mom dementia. My dad became aggressive and abusive with Alzheimer's. We had to place him in a home. He lived in and out of homes and hospitals for an additional 4 1/2 years. My mom visited him daily, except when she broke her pelvis and even then went to the same nursing home for rehab. two years after dad died, mom was diagnosed with dementia. After several years of trying to care for her at home, she agreed to be admitted into an assisted-living facility. At that point she was so thin and frail we thought she would be gone within a few months at most. She ended up getting stronger in the assisted-living facility and stayed there another 4 years.

    I agree very much with @herbladyisin 's post. I just wish that I had known some of the wisdom I have learned over the last 5-10 years prior to either of them becoming symptomatic. I don't know if anything could have prevented the end result, some things might have eased their symptoms and prolonged the healthy part of their lives. While some cases might be similar, I don't think that any two are the same. For both my parents the issue leading to being admitted to nursing home care was their day to day safety and competent 24/7 treatment. I say "competent treatment" with a loose tongue as I won't even start on my opinion of nursing homes and the "level" of care administered in many cases.

    I think that the most frustrating thing for me was when I attended several national Alzheimer's symposiums. I came away from them dumbfounded by the fact that they (big pharma), at least back then, are not really looking for a cure for memory loss, only drug treatments that will stave off serious symptoms long enough that you might die from some other cause. From what I understand, none of these treatments are viable yet and I was attending these symposiums close to 25 years ago.

  • andrea745
    andrea745 Posts: 89 ✭✭✭

    I lost my mom to Alzheimer's three years ago and my step dad to dementia the year before. He was the angry type. She was the sweetest person who first lost her ability to talk and then everything else slowly but surely. I watched her die a thousand times during the ten years I cared for. At the early stages there is so much fear because they are aware they are losing it and so they are fighting it. I would not force them to do anything they were adamantly against. In fact, we had to trick my parents the first couple of years because they did not want to give up their wine, so we poured out the wine and put in their wine bottles the alchohol free wine. A lot of what we did was subtle and sneaky to get their vitamins in, to change their food, to keep sharp knives away from them. We never did it in a confrontational way. I learned about all the supplements after my mom died from Dr. Dale Bredesen, who has an amazing protocall for slowing down and in a few cases early on completely reversing Alzheimer's. As much as possible help them to exercise, give them activities to do within their reach. We had mom taking piano lessons and doing singalongs and had her knitting. Things she could do with her hands that did not frustrate her. We gave her many tasks to do like folding laundry that made her feel she was contributing. My dad refused most of that and preferred to watch funny tv shows. I send you lots of love and light for your journey. Namaste, Andrea

  • blevinandwomba
    blevinandwomba Posts: 813 ✭✭✭✭

    @pseabolt I can't recommend any supplements, but I wanted to offer my sympathy and my prayers.

    Both of my grandma's had dementia. I wasn't usually on the receiving end, but I certainly witnessed a lot of confusion, paranoia, and anger. It's really hard to witness a kind, sweet person lashing out against their loved ones.

    I do think it is a very good idea for you to get some outside help. It will give you a break, and it might take some of the focus off of you. She might even calm down some with another person to provide support.

    Two years ago I visited a friend who was in the early stages of dementia. What really struck me was not her forgetfulness, but her paranoia and possessiveness. I had known her in years past to be a blunt, opinionated person, but also kind and easy going. She "didn't sweat the small stuff." This visit, she was quite upset to find out that I spent the first night of my visit at someone else's house. When I saw her the second morning, she told me that our mutual friends, "were trying to keep us apart."

    I visited her again this past January. The mutual friends warned me that her dementia was worse, and I would "notice a change in her". I did, but it was for the better. A few months before my visit, one of her daughters, who had a nursing background, had moved in with her. Though her memory was certainly worse, she was calm and happy most of the time. Every time that she found out that I was only staying overnight, she was disappointed, but not upset. Her daughter wasn't caring for her all alone, however. Friends and relatives visited with her frequently, her granddaughter's husband would take her to church, etc.

    It sounds like your aunt has gone beyond the level of my friend, but the point I was trying to make with that story, is that maybe your aunt's mood will improve with someone to help you give the consistency of care. One person can't do everything.

  • stephanie447
    stephanie447 Posts: 404 ✭✭✭

    This sounds terrible, sorry to hear you are going through this. Gotu kola and calamus come to mind, but you might want to consult with an herbalist. KP Khalsa would be knowledgeable in this area, or in the least you can check his website to see if he already has a pre-recorded webinar for sale about the topic.

  • Wendy
    Wendy Posts: 138 ✭✭✭

    Vitamin B (all of them) is usually deficient in dementia patients. Make sure that she is taking vitamin B supplements, sprinkling nutritional yeast on her foods, and eating fresh veggies and fruits.

  • frogvalley
    frogvalley Posts: 675 ✭✭✭✭

    @pseabolt Nux Vomica is a homeopathic remedy that comes to mind. My mother-in-law had dementia and lived with us until she hit me. She was on medication and we found out that it caused the same problems we were supposedly using it for. We stopped giving it to her and that was the last of it, but Nux Vomica helps flush out things. Alzheimer's is also called Type 3 diabetes. That might be something to look into. It worked for us. A diet full of sugar/carbs will overload the liver and cause all types of mental issues.

    I add my prayers and concern for your health to all those on this page. It's such a difficult time for you.

    My mother-in-law wanted to check out mentally as did many of the dementia patients I've been with. It's hard to live in this world with so many things to have to do, remember, learn, take care of, be responsible for, etc. She just wanted someone to take care of her - strong as an ox, but didn't want to have to be responsible for anything. She had a very nice long life even with her issues because she just wanted to sleep in a bed somebody else had to make, be called for meals she didn't have to cook or clean up, never had to do taxes, vacuum or anything she didn't want to again. And she didn't. She lived eight years and died at 90 years old.

    The elders in our families (my husbands and mine) experienced similar problems and turned our lives as well as our siblings lives inside out as we tried to be good children and tried to do everything in our power to keep them happy.

    I told my mother-in-law a few nights before she died that I felt bad because I was going to have to make a decision about how she would die and I didn't like being in that position. She told me that I wasn't making the decision, it was God making the decision and whatever was going to happen would happen. I carried the guilt of not finding the right therapy, procedure, or treatment for her a long time. I finally went to my doctor who reiterated what she said and I finally listened and understood.

    Whatever you do is going to be the right thing. Whatever you do, as many have stated here, look after yourself first. Put on your oxygen mask first. Eat well, get enough sleep, don't feel guilty and don't second guess your decisions. It's nature's way and it's hard on us.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,515 admin

    @pseabolt I just stumbled across this video today that you might be interested in. My mother has the early stages of dementia happening, and my grandma (on my other side) had it, so it is of interest to me to learn more.

    The speaker in this and her other videos sounds like she really knows what she is talking about & is good at teaching. The comments below the video give her glowing reviews.

    I hope this can help you and other caregivers as you/they deal with your loved one.

  • JennyT Upstate South Carolina
    JennyT Upstate South Carolina Posts: 1,273 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @LaurieLovesLearning I'm afraid the link for the video is not working could you please resend it?

    I believe my father might be starting down this road and want to study all I can get my hands on.😥

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,515 admin

    @JennyT Upstate South Carolina I had to click it twice for it to play in the above post. Let me know if that works for you.

  • SuperC
    SuperC Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭


  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,515 admin

    @SuperC A person has to be careful with valerian. I know it makes me agitated. I understood that that could happen before I took it , at least. Unfortunately, that's the effect it had on me instead of what is usually promoted. I was disappointed.

    Agitation is something you really don't want to do to someone who is struggling with these conditions. So, it might or might not be helpful, depending on the person.