Is it a Sign that Dad’s Alzheimer’s is Progressing?

I went to visit dad yesterday.  As usual he wasn’t very talkative and he snoozed through part of my visit.  When it was time to go to lunch he got up and then decided he needed a warmer shirt even though we weren’t going outside.  (It was 80 degrees in his room and 90 outside).

He looked around for a warm flannel shirt to put over his golf shirt.  I pointed out there was one on the back of the chair he had been sleeping in.  He picked it up and went to put his arm in the sleeve but he had the wrong arm there.  He got this confused look on his face and then he turned it and tried again.  Still it didn’t seem to be working.

Then he went to turn the shirt inside-out to get his arm in.  At that point, I said I would help him and held it up so he could get his arm in.  He got the shirt all the way on and then took his walker and we walked to the dining room.

As we walked down the hall to the dining area, I found myself wondering if his confusion stemmed from a progression of his Alzheimer’s disease or if it was because he just woke up from his nap.

It has been about 3 years since dad’s doctor told me that dad had a slow progression type of Alzheimer’s disease.   He said it may never get worse than it was at that time, but that it could.  I see dad 4 or more times each week so I generally don’t notice much change.  But in the back of my mind there is always that fear that he will progress to the point where he won’t be able to stay in his assisted living facility any more.

I thought about looking again at the web page about the stages of Alzheimer’s disease.   Then I decided not to.  I hate to “pre-worry” about things if I don’t have to.  I try to take things day by day and for the most part I have been successful.  But every once in awhile I see dad experience confusion like this and I worry about the future.

About letstalkaboutfamily

I am a retired and was the primary caregiver for both my parents before they passed. I have children and grandchildren. This blog is an attempt to connect with other caregivers and share ideas and experiences. I hope you will let me know what worked for you if you had an experience similar to mine. The main issues I am going to talk about are elder care, death and dying, assisted living, family relationships and hoarders and hoarding. Other topics will come up as I address the issues and my relationship with other family members.
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15 Responses to Is it a Sign that Dad’s Alzheimer’s is Progressing?

  1. terry1954 says:

    i am happy that you and your dad can spend this time together. i know it is not always fun to go to where he is, but i bet he loves having you there

  2. Yes, it was all by telephone and rare vists, so very difficult.

  3. Ellen Reaves says:

    I was a caregiver for my Dad who suffered from Alzheimer’s Disease. He survived twelve years after his diagnosis, which is the average amount of time. If your Dad has a slower progression form, that is a good thing. I think you SHOULD look up info about the different stages. It will help you prepare and be more informed as you take this journey with him. Read the book – The 36 Hour Day – it is considered the “gospel” when it comes to explain the signs and ongoing stages of Alzheimers Disease. You should read it in small spurts, meaning as you experience something new, look it up in the book. My father would have long periods of somewhat “normalcy” but then have a sharp decline in functioning and not regain any of those previous skills. I hate to be the one to tell you but I think your Dad is still in the early stages but progressing further along.
    I enjoy your blog and wish you well.

    • Thank you, Ellen. Somehow your comment ended up in my spam folder, so I got it late. I agree about knowledge of Alzheimer’s. Two years ago I read everything I could get on Alzheimer’s — books, web pages, etc. now I am trying to relax more and not worry so much day to day. I know in the end it could get really bad. But since dad is already in his mid 90’s, the doctor didn’t think dad would live long enough to get to the really bad stages. In the meantime, I try to take it one day at a time if I can. Of course, in a crisis like his illness last year, the. I am back to reading all the books to get the answer to what should I really do now! Thanks again. Lori

  4. jlhede says:

    I’m speaking as someone who works in a long-term care facility, with persons who have dementia. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease is progressive; people with it will eventually decline in their functioning. There are things we can do to slow that progression down, or help them function better at whatever level they are at the moment. And we can do a lot of things to make their quality of life as good as possible.
    It may also be that your dad could have been more confused after waking up from a nap. I think a lot of us feel that way. Many of the elderly do feel the cold more keenly, especially if they are taking medications to thin the blood. Their skin becomes thinner, and they have less muscle mass to warm the body up, they’re less active. And the brain doesn’t process cues from the environment the same way it used to. As for the ability to dress or do other self-care tasks for himself, you can ask for help from the occupational therapist where he lives to make things easier for him. You can ask the speech pathologist to do a thorough evaluation of his cognitive skills, or his thought processes. With a few environmental adaptations, your dad should be able to do quite well where he is for a while yet.
    If you have any further questions, feel free to message me.

    • Thanks for your comment. Dad has always been cold e en though he doesn’t take medications that would cause it (see the Thermostat wars). His Alzheimer’s progression has been slow so far but I watch for changes. He is at a small ALF so they don’t have occupational therapists or speech pathologists. He isn’t usually interested in interacting with more people so I won’t push for anything until he seems to be doing worse. There is a memory care unit next door to his building so when he needs to he could move there. But he is happy where he is so I want to keep him there as long as I can. Since he is in his mid-90’s now, his doctor thought he would probably pass from physical illness before his Alzheimer’s got much worse.

      Thanks for your comments.

  5. boomer98053 says:

    There are so many factors that can have an impact on your father’s day-to-day disease, and certainly one of those is a progression of his illness. And as I’m sure you’ve already noticed, what you see when you get to his assisted living facility can change daily – or even by the hour! That’s the unpredictability of dementia. Along with you, I hope he will be able to remain where he is as long as possible because any move to a different environment is not one that anyone adjusts to very quickly. I guess my suggestion would to be certain that a) he is not apt to wander away from the facility – as often happens with Alzheimer’s or other dementia; b) that you feel he can safely remain where he is and get the help he requires for his Activities of Daily Living (ADLs); c) that the staff are attentive to changes in his behavior that might be medically related, e.g., urinary tract infection (UTI), medication induced (not enough medication or too much, or new medication’s side effects), and the like. Bless you in your commitment to his well-being.

  6. Thank you, Irene. I am comfortable so far with the care dad gets at his ALF though I di feel I have to watch and make sure nothing gets overlooked. He doesn’t wonder as he doesn’t like to walk outside at all. He mostly stays in his room or in the lobby near the dining area (so he can know when it is time to eat). They do give him baths and oversee his care pretty well. And they did find when he had a UTI though I don’t know what prompted the testing as he didn’t complain about anything.

    The things that would make them decide he had to leave are: if he became incontinent on a regular basis though he does use Depends now. He takes care of that himself most of the time. If he couldn’t self ambulated he would have to leave, but he walks just fine. If he became belligerent that would also be reason to move him to the memory care. Most of the time he is quiet as a mouse. But when they want him to shower sometimes he objects and even yells or curses at the aides. Though later he will be just fine and let them shower him. So you can see, it would be a real progression of his illness that would make him leave.

    I am hoping that will not happen. He doesn’t have an angry personality. Most of the time he is happy with the people and his surroundings. I have seen some difficult residents at dad’s last ALF and was surprised anyone was willing to care for them because of their constant complaints. Dad never complains about anything even the food though he is a fussy eater. He might not eat his lunch, but he won’t complain about it!

  7. Hi guys, I have written a series of articles about the ups and downs of living with my grandmother, who has Alzheimer’s Disease. I just posted a new article if you want to check it out at:


  8. sharyn says:

    Any ideas/suggestions /thoughts about extreme confusion as to place after getting up from sleeping in the AM or afternoon nap. My mom is highly functioning in mid stages of AD. Thanks!

    • I am not sure. My dad is in an assisted living facility and that helps a lot. It depends on where your mom is living and how recently that changed. Dad has been much better now that he is used to his present location. After he was in the nursing home and when he first returned to his ALF he was very confused for a few months. Gradually he got used to his new living situation and now that he has adjusted he seems less confused. I do think stability helps a lot. But each individual is so different, it is hard to tell. Good luck in your efforts for your mother. I hope you find a way to help with her confusion.

      • sharyn says:

        She lives in her home with caregivers but in Florida from Nov-March and in montreal the rest of year. She has been in Florida since beginning of Nov. in the same apt she has wintered in for the last 32 years. She cries bitterly when she gets up because she knows that she is confused as to her location.. It breaks our hearts. Thanks.

      • My mom was in a similar situation the year before she died. They were in the North in the summer and the South in the winter. Her doctor said it was NOT Alzheimer’s. he thought it was a hormone imbalance from her thyroid but she also had an early kidney cancer we did not yet know about. Maybe a medical checkup is due? I ended up putting mom and dad in assisted living which helped some, but mom was confused ever after that because we didn’t know some of her symptoms were due to the kidney issues. Good luck with your mom.

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