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Elder Care & Elder Rage – Know the Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease
For eleven years I begged my grumpy old dad to let a carer help me with my sick mother, but after 55 years of loving him – he insisted on taking care of her himself. All the agencies and caregivers I hired to help him laughed with frustration, “Jacqueline, we can’t work with your father – it’s impossible to handle his spirit. I don’t think you’ll be able to help him until he’s on his knees.”
My father had always been 90 percent brilliant, but that was a terrible fear in him. He had never turned on me before, but then again – I had never gone against his wishes either. When my mother nearly died from an illness that caused her inability to care for her, I immediately flew home to try to save her life – not knowing that in the process it would almost cost me my own to me.
EARLY SIGNS OF DEMENTIA?
I spent three months nursing my 82-pound mother back to relative health, while my father said he loved me one minute, but then got angry over the slightest thing, called me nasty names and threw I’m out of the house next. I was surprised to see him getting so upset, even running the washing machine could cause tizzy, and there was no way to reason with him. It was my father’s heartbreak that once turned against me.
The doctor assessed my father, but I was delighted that he could be so normal when he needed to be! I couldn’t believe it when the doctor looked at me like I was the crazy one. She didn’t even take me seriously when I told her that my father had almost electrocuted my mother, but luckily I walked in three seconds before he inserted a large power strip in the soaking in a tub of water – along with my mother’s feet! Later I was furious to find out that my father had instructed his doctor (and everyone) not to listen to anything I said because I was just a liar ( bleep bleep) and all I wanted was his money! (I wish he had some.)
Then things got serious. My father never laid a hand on me my whole life, but he almost choked me to death one day for adding HBO to his television, even though he had given his permission a few days before. Frightened, I called 911 and the police took him to a hospital for evaluation. I was very surprised when they released him saying they couldn’t find anything wrong with him. What is even more surprising is that similar events happened three more times.
Care giving arrest 22
I was trapped. I could not fly home and leave my mother alone with my father – she would surely die because she was unable to care for her. I could not believe the health care professionals – my father was always so sensible in front of them. I couldn’t get medicine to calm him down and even when I finally did – he refused to take it, threw it in my face or flushed it down the toilet. I couldn’t get him to accept a babysitter and even when I did – no one would put up with him very long. I couldn’t put my mother in a nursing home – he would take her out. I couldn’t put him in a home – he didn’t deserve it. They both refused assisted living – legally I couldn’t force them. I became a prisoner in my parents’ home for almost a year trying to solve crisis after crisis, crying rivers every day, and frustrated by an unsympathetic medical system that was not helping me at all. – appropriate.
A GERIATRIC DEMENTIA SPECIALIST makes an accurate diagnosis
You don’t need a doctorate to know something is wrong, but you do need the right doctor who can diagnose and treat dementia correctly. Finally, I got involved with a neurologist who specialized in depression, and at the risk of being put in a nursing home my father finally agreed to go. The doctor did a battery of blood, brain, memory tests, and CT/PET scans. He reviewed my parents’ medications and ruled out reversible dementias such as B12 or thyroid deficiency. And then, you should have seen my face fall when he diagnosed both of my parents with Stage One Alzheimer’s – something their other doctors completely missed.
WALKING IN AN OLD WORD
What I was dealing with was the onset of Alzheimer’s (just one type of dementia), which starts intermittently and seems to come and go. I did not understand that my father was addicted and trapped in his own bad behavior all his life and his habit of yelling his way out of things was ignorant… at times. I also didn’t understand that sad doesn’t mean dumb (an underappreciated concept) and that he was still socially adjusted not to show “Hyde” to anyone on his side. – outside the family. Even when depression set in, it was amazing that he could still be so manipulative and subtle. On the other hand, my mother was sweet and loving as always.
THE CHEMICAL BRAIN WASH
I learned that Alzheimer’s makes up 60-65% of all dementias and there is no stopping the progression and there is no cure. However, if identified early there are medications that can mostly mask/slow down the symptoms of the disease, keeping a person independent for longer, delaying full-time management and nursing home care. (Ask your Dementia Specialist about: Aricept, Exelon, Razadyne and Namenda.)
After the neurologist treated the depression and anxiety (often accompanied by depression) in both parents, he prescribed a small dose of anti-aggression medication for my father which helped with his temple not making him sleep all day. (I wish we had that fifty years ago.) It wasn’t easy to get the doses right and it wasn’t perfect, but at least we didn’t have more police intervention! Once my parents’ brain chemistry was better balanced, I was able to increase nutrition, fluid intake, and all of their medications with much less resistance.
CREATIVE BEHAVIOR TECHNOLOGY
In addition, I was finally able to implement methods to deal with the strange behaviors. Instead of logic and reason – I used attention, redirection and reminder. Instead of arguing the facts – I agreed, confirmed frustrated feelings and lived in their truths. I learned to just “go with the flow” and let negative thoughts drift away. And if none of that worked, a bribe of ice cream worked to get my dad into the shower, even when he swore a blue streak he had just taken one yesterday (over a week on back)!
Then finally, I was able to get my father to accept a babysitter (he had not passed 40 that year – most there for about ten minutes), and with the benefit of Adult Day Care five days a week for them and a support group for me, everything started to fall into place. It was so wonderful to hear my father say one more time, “We love you so much, my love.”
ALZHEIMER’S / DEMENTIA Often overlooked
What is so shocking is that no one ever talked to me about the possibility of dementia in that first year. I was told that my parents’ “senior moment” and strange behavior was old age and a “normal part of getting older”. Since one in eight before the age of 65, and almost half before the age of 85, gets Alzheimer’s-I should have known. If only I had been shown the “Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s”, I would have known what was happening and gotten the help my parents desperately needed. If any of this is true for you or someone you love, I urge you to seek out a Dementia Specialist – right away!
If only I had been shown the “Ten Warning Signs of Alzheimer’s”, I would have found out a year earlier what was happening to my parents and know how to get them to the right doctors to help them get what they needed so much. If this is true of you, or someone you love, I urge you to get help from a depression specialist right away.
TEN ALZHEIMER’S WARNING SIGNS
(Reprinted with permission from the Alzheimer’s Association)
1. Memory loss
2. Difficulty performing familiar tasks
3. Problems with language
4. Disorder of time and space
5. Impaired or impaired judgment
6. Problems with abstract thinking
7. Putting things wrong
8. Changes in mood or behavior
9. Changes in personality
10. Losing initiative
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