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Wednesday, 15 March 2017


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A circumstance like the couple you describe can often result in one of the pair being taken down by the strain of elder care. The care giver sometimes is outlived by the one being cared for. Friends and minimally involved family will tell the surviving partner that they should have "done something" sooner so the whole thing could have been prevented.

I run into numerous nurses and physicians who do not know that, with actual Alzheimer's patients, the tranquilizer drugs are slow in getting into the brain. So, you need to give them at around 1600 hours, for a restful night. A simple trick, and I can claim absolutely no credit for discovering it. Another nurse told me.

The police are very poorly trained in subduing confused people. In Travis County (Austin) there are enough crazies that there is a separate section of deputy sheriffs who do receive that training. As long as the patient has not gotten hold of any weapon the techniques are fairly simple, soothing talk, although not like you'd think "Here we are, Mrs. Crazy Person, let's take our pills and sit down." Rather, just a calm but non-threatening, matter-of fact tone is usually all that is needed. There is a special training for all this, called PMAB in Texas and some other places, and my instructors always thought I was repeating the class for recertification, because it just seemed so natural to me. (It was clear that they had never met my family, none of whom was ever caught, or, as you civilians will insist upon having it, "diagnosed")

When I worked in the Emergency Department, the cops, who hung around all the time, ostensibly doing paper work, but, generally to flirt with the lady nurses, were utterly astonished that we even talked about such things. Their most sophisticated command went something like "Charge." Every two or three years, the police dispatcher will send out regular cops to arrest a man who, for the latest example, was walking around an apartment building, naked, carrying a large knife. He did not survive the encounter. There was the usual racial stink about it, even though both the dead man and the cop were Americans of African descent. The City settled out of court for a large sum, and, while I usually fume about such hush money being paid, I also realize what utter chaos the family's lives were, for years/decades, living with a crazy man. In another job, a psyche facility, we used to meet the families who brought in their loved one, after two weeks without sleep, and it showed. None of the nuts in my family have ever come close to inflicting that level of mental damage on me.

What can I say? Except, possibly, thank God I have never been tested in such circumstances.

My sister has Alzheimer's and has moved from Melbourne to live with me - well, she's bought a house 4 doors away from me. She manages pretty well
at the moment but it is a struggle and not much fun for either of us.
I know it won't get better and I very likely have the same complaint to look forward to.

Andra, I hope you have someone(s) to support you as well while you help your sister.

Dammit, Andra, sometimes there are no words that don't come out sounding trite and useless but I think you can guess what all of us here are feeling.

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