Managing health issues and dementia

(an update from my previous post….)

I continue to struggle to help my loved one with dementia as it relates to her food choices. Heck, I struggle with my own food choices never-mind helping someone else.

Soon after we had a diagnosis of mixed dementia I was informed that life expectancy is often shorten. When I inquired further, I learned that often other health issues become front and center. The dementia may stabilize but other health issues expand. I vowed that would not happen to my loved one if I have anything to do with it.

My loved one is now dealing with Type 2 diabetes and now her primary care suspects kidney disease. She has high blood pressure, high cholesterol and fatty liver disease. These are not related to dementia. She very well would have been diagnosed with them even if dementia was not.

They are not uncommon and there are steps to take care and mitigate them.

Except my loved one forgets that she has to do so.

Let’s talk diabetes. She remembers to take her glucose reading every day. The readings are now running high. When we investigate we learn she was up in the night eating high carb snacks. And she likes to drink fruit juices. How do we know this? She remembers to keep a food log. What we struggle with is helping her relate the readings and journal to her health.

She was a nurse in her prior life. The nursing memory is intact. She understands the concept of diabetes and food choices but only at the text level. She can not apply the knowledge to her own health.

We attended a session together with a nutritionist. I took her shopping and had to remind her about the list of suggested food choices. “I don’t like anything on the list!” We took the list anyway. It was a struggle for me to get her to pick from the list but we did select some better snacks. When we returned to her apartment I put the apples, oranges and cucumbers at eye level when she opens the refrigerator. I encouraged her during the week and she responded indicating she was eating better.

I visited her apartment. I opened the refrigerator. The fruit and vegetables were still there shriveling up.

She has no recollection of going to the nutritionist. She still remembers to take her glucose reading and log her food. Her readings continue to remain high.

Damn dementia!

My second attempt to mitigate the high carb snack choices resulted in her being agitated and very depressed. She has lost so much and food is something she wants to and can control.

I am doing the best I can. Forcing compliance is causing more agitation and she has rights. The facility cannot deny her choices, they can only suggest.

I am taking her to a yearly physical with her primary care doctor. We have not met face-to-face yet. This will be the first time. Perhaps her consul will help my loved one remember how to manage her diabetes.

If not, I will keep trying.

Does your loved one with dementia have health issues negatively impacted by short term memory issues? How do you help them help themselves?

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