Monday, August 29, 2011
I’m Scared For Her
Recently, you’ve noticed she is having memory problems. It’s been harder for her to recall what was just said. Now she’s forgetting the day, the date and other little features of daily life. Learning new things seems especially challenging for her, and she is starting to make up details to fill in the parts of stories she’s forgotten.
At first, it was possible to chalk it all up to getting older. After all, there are many challenges to deal with as the years advance. But things have really begun to change for the worse.
Mom can’t sleep through the night. She wakes up disoriented and confused. During the day, she believes she has appointments that have never been made. She talks about going to see friends or family who have long ago passed away or moved. She gets mad and lashes out when she is prevented from doing things you know she can no longer do.
Sometimes Mom seems depressed. It is harder and harder to take care of her personal needs, and she doesn’t seem to understand why you want her to take a shower. Sometimes she even forgets who you are.
It seems that her symptoms are coming on faster and faster, and, since she took that fall last week, things have gotten so much worse. Her doctor prescribed some medication, but it really isn’t helping.
You get out of bed and go downstairs to try to help Mom back to bed. She isn’t settled until 4 a.m. You don’t know what you’re going to do. One of these days you might not be able to get to her in time.
Mom has dementia, and now you’re worried about her safety. You need someone to help you figure out what to do next.
The preceding scenario is a composite of several we’ve heard from families caring for loved ones with various forms of age-related dementia.
At the Jewish Home’s acclaimed Auerbach Geriatric Psychiatry Unit (AGPU), we counsel families on mental health services for their senior loved ones, and provide short-term (acute) intensive treatment for seniors experiencing stressful mental or emotional challenges.
More than 50% of patients treated are suffering from acute dementia. The goal of our small, specialized hospital unit is to help restore seniors to an optimal level of functioning so they may safely return to their home or residential setting.
While most people do not need to be admitted, the staff at the Auerbach Geriatric Psychiatry Unit can help you sort through your options, gain new insights on dealing with dementia, and where to go for additional help.
If you have a loved one who is experiencing acute mental health challenges, please call the Jewish Home’s Auerbach Geriatric Psychiatry Unit at (818) 758-5042. A helpful staff member will either talk with you immediately or get back to you promptly.