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 Combativeness in nursing home-did we move Dad just in time? 
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Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2013 9:16 pm
Posts: 29
Location: Texas, USA
Post Combativeness in nursing home-did we move Dad just in time?
Mom and I decided the other day that we were going to cut down on the nursing home visits. Today would be the first day we didn't go to see Daddy. Then at about 10:15 I got a call from one of the nurses. She told me that Daddy had been combative during the morning and had struck out at her. (She assured me that this happens with dementia patients all the time, though I felt bad that it happened with Daddy). This is the second time this has happened in about a week. Last Sunday evening we got a call about the same thing and we headed over there to sit with him for a few hours because the evening nurse thought it might help calm him down. It did, but we obviously can't run to the nursing home every time something like this happens. The nurse this morning told me that they ended up giving him some medication and had him stretched out on his bed to hopefully sleep. She didn't think it would be a good idea for my Mom to see him like this and was relieved when I told her we hadn't planned to come for a visit today.

This type of thing has never happened with Dad before. While he was still at home he would occasionally become agitated and shake his fists when he was unable to get a thought out, or would get irritated about something. But for the last week or so he has become noticeably more irritated and grouchy.

I apologized to the nurse (a really great girl) but she brushed it aside, saying that this is just a part of certain types of dementia, and told her to call me if she needed anything. I told her that I really didn't know what was going on with Daddy, that he'd never done this type of thing before, and that I didn't know if something was bothering him or if it was just the progression of the dementia. She felt that it is just his dementia progressing, that individuals get this way as they go along, and that she was afraid of him hurting himself, not someone else.

This is distressing. I'm not sure whether I should burden my Mom with this, as the nurse didn't seem to want to. But it just hurts very deep inside me that Dad is going through this. Yesterday when we visited he didn't want to talk, was very restless, sat staring into space with no expression on his face, told Mom to leave him alone when she rubbed his shoulder, didn't want the hospice aide to shower him.

Is anyone else going through this with their loved one? I'd really like to know that we're not the only ones going through this (though I know we're not). Things just seem to be piling up at a more rapid rate suddenly. Its difficult to know which way to turn and what to do....

Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:11 pm

Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm
Posts: 3213
Location: WA
Post Re: Combativeness in nursing home-did we move Dad just in ti
Irritation and even combativeness are not uncommon. It was an issue for my husband for years, both at home and then in the SNF. I never quit visiting him every day, though, and believe that my presence at least made the staff aware that someone was keeping tabs on the situation and also was a source of comfort for him. He was combative with me at times and with the staff. He threw hot coffee into a nurse's face and hit several staff members. Seroquel helped a great deal but never eliminated the problem. What was most frustrating was not knowing what underlying issues may have caused the outbursts because he was often unable to communicate his needs. :cry:

Pat [68] married to Derek [84] for 38 years; husband dx PDD/LBD 2005, probably began 2002 or earlier; late stage and in a SNF as of January 2011. Hospitalized 11/2/2013 and discharged to home Hospice. Passed away at home on 11/9/2013.

Sat Nov 30, 2013 3:50 pm

Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
Posts: 3441
Location: Vermont
Post Re: Combativeness in nursing home-did we move Dad just in ti
My dad, who had always been a fun, upbeat, friendly, nice person got progressively more combative and irritable from the LBD. His last year was mostly a living hell for all of us, including him. There were times where he was calm and relatively peaceful but mostly he was very frustrated, angry, acting out, hitting caregivers, I think he even bit some of them in his last weeks. He'd jam his hands against the wall until they split open and bled. He was on various drugs, including Seroquel, which I assumed helped some, but not enough. We tried everything to help him be more relaxed and at peace, but he'd go from peaceful to extremely angry in a heartbeat for no apparent reason. It is just how this disease is for many people, unfortunately. I was just thankful that he wasn't mobile because the situation was much worse for some people I knew who could walk around their rooms and throw furniture, etc. when they became agitated.
Please remind yourself that this is the disease, it isn't your dad that you all knew. He cannot help himself, it is nothing personal. He sure doesn't want to be this way just like you don't want him to be this way. Remind yourself over and over that it is the disease and after a while it will help your level of understanding and guilt about his behavior.
I'd suggest that you read as much as you can (if you haven't already) about the things most pressing right now. There are a lot of insightful stories on here and in recent books that have been written about this awful disease. It may at least help you understand that you are not alone and that your dad is not the only one who is/was acting like this. Take care, Lynn

Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.

Sun Dec 01, 2013 3:59 pm

Joined: Sat May 25, 2013 3:53 pm
Posts: 330
Post Re: Combativeness in nursing home-did we move Dad just in ti
And I second what Lynn says. You just have to keep reminding yourself that it's the disease - not your Dad. It's the brain deteriorating that causes the strange behaviours just like a broken leg causes a body to walk strangely. It's just harder because you can't see the broken parts. So hang in there - and give your Dad a hug when he'll take it and leave him when he won't.

Gail, Forum Moderator & daughter of Doris who passed away Dec. 2010 after living with LBD for 7 years.

Wed Dec 04, 2013 1:39 am
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