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Welcome to CareNotes. In this special section we will feature a reader's letter and provide an opportunity for an interactive exchange that will help find some answers and possible solutions to concerns. If you wish to respond to this letter, simple follow the link provided at the end of the letter and add your comments and thoughts to our CareNotes Board.

This Week's Carenote - 09/02/09

I work in a hospital where I teach families how to be caregivers. I am also a caregiver for my husband who has dementia. I have heard our staff Psychiatrist say that there is nothing we can do to manage behavior problems of demented older adults; that the best we can do is load them with drugs that knock them out. 

It really feels like a pessimistic and dismissive attitude to me. I am so afraid that my husband will be treated by someone with that attitude: throw medicines at him just to control a disturbing behavior rather than try to ensure a quality of life for him during a very difficult illness.

What can I do to make sure my husband continues to have a life that means something to him but without being zonked out?

Answer This Week's CareNote

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Name: Alley
Location: TN
Date: 09/02/2009
Time: 10:43 AM


I am anxious to hear some responses to this also. I also want to know how to include the siblings into the network of the process. Once the patient reaches the stage of combativeness, it is difficult to keep them at home and remain safe yourself. Those who don't live in the situation do not know the extent of the fear for the patient's safety and the caregiver's safety!

Name: Felicia
Location: Illinois
Date: 09/02/2009
Time: 10:46 AM


Contact the Alzheimer's Association. They can refer you to doctors that will work with your husband not just "drug him up."

Name: Jo Kemp
Location: United States
Date: 09/02/2009
Time: 11:52 AM


OK I've had it with these psychiatrist and other doctors like the one you are talking about. Let's put his mom or dad in the hospital and see what he says then. There is no excuse for not being compassionate. There are so many ways to handle behaviors without drugging them. In my thirty some years in working with dementia and Alzheimer's I have seen so many doctors like them. We are looking for quality of life here and zonking them out is not quality for the patient at least. I am typing this kind of fast because I guess it really struck a cord with me. Love your husband, live in the moment, step into his world sometimes (it's not such a bad place at times) take care of yourself and above all don't go to that doctor or others like him. Interview your doctor ahead of time when looking for a new one. You are doing a great job don't feel guilty. Maybe someday the doctor will be a patient on your floor, one can only hope.

Name: MichelJoy
Location: Laguna Niguel
Date: 09/02/2009
Time: 12:06 PM


Interestingly, I was fired as a client  in Reno, Nevada for having the same question. We found the answer through David Levy, a Caregiver Specialist in Florida. He clearly states that we must be the advocate for our loved one. There are many reasons a person with dementia may "act out". One could be an imbalance in the drugs that are being administered. Another often overlooked one is their emotional state. It can be frightening for them to not know who the people are that surround them. When you learn to talk to them - clarifying how they may be feeling - they start to calm. I recommend choosing a facility carefully that has a standard of talking with understanding to you, as an advocate, and to their patients. If you don't feel comfortable there, your loved one will not either.


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