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The Problems
The next morning I received a call from Anne, there had been an incident overnight, Lisa had tried to leave, when told she could not, had ran through the residence screaming, then dodging the staff, run outside into the garden where after falling, she fought all three staff before they brought her inside. The doctor was called in to examine her but refused to take a pill to calm her down, saying they were all trying to poison her. She finally fell asleep in the TV room watched by staff.

When I arrived I was given the incident report to read, I was mortified that she could cause so much trouble, all the other residents seemed content, the staff were great, there were lots of activities and Lisa was eating everything that they gave and more. When I went up to see her I asked her if she remembered the previous evening. Yes she had watched TV and gone to bed, did she remember going into the garden? Yes, she just wanted some air, trying to leave? Yes she had to get her shopping, what about shouting and fighting? Lies all lies. We talked again about why she could not live by herself. When it was time to leave, Lisa said she was going home, she had laundry to do, shopping and banking and promised to return in a hour, I told her why she was in her new home, not being able to get here own way, my mother then told me that she could not stand me, that she had always hated me and that no one could keep her locked up, there were laws against that, meanwhile the staff had been keeping an eye on us and led Lisa gently away. With a heavy heart I drove away. Not understanding anything.

The next morning brought new problems, the previous evening after dinner Lisa feeling restless had opened a window in the TV room, climbed out and with the staff in hot pursuit clambered onto a flat roof which had no barrier and that had a drop of five feet, fighting with staff who had to restrain her than get her back into the building out of harm’s way. Again for everyone’s safety she had to be medicated by the doctor. In the scuffle she also lost one of her shoes never to found again. I was advised that a memo had been sent to head office as the security of the home had been compromised and would have to be re-evaluated as they had never had an episode like this before, ever! In addition they wanted to send Lisa to hospital for observation and to see a psychiatrist. I picked up Carolina and we found Lisa again sleeping in the TV room monitored by staff. Carolina said that even though she wanted her own room the dementia/Alzheimer’s made her feel vulnerable and frightened and that was probably why she settled in the TV room night after night and previously knocked on peoples doors and allowed a person to prey on her just for company. One of the nursing staff accompanied us to the hospital, where she was admitted to the general ward.

Lisa stayed in hospital three days where her dementia/Alzheimer’s was confirmed with some anxiety/displacement disorder for which an anti-depressant was prescribed. Somewhat unexpected was that Lisa had been dehydrated when I brought her in and a kidney infection had been found and was also being treated. Carolina did tell me that some people with Alzheimer’s do have problems at night and they become restless, it is a condition called “sun-downing”. It appears that confusion begins when natural daylight fades and shadows appear. Although Lisa’s daily schedule had been off kilter, now in the home there was a good routine with activities that would help with the confusion but it would take a little more time. Slowly I was beginning to comprehend exactly what kind of toll dementia can take on everyone who has contact.

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