Dementia expert, Karen Tyrell, offers answers to www.carp.ca visitors for their situation-specific questions. Karen is a dementia consultant who can point you in the right direction, giving quick insight and personalized answers to help you with dementia care challenges.
Do you have a specific question relating to dementia that you need answered? Please submit your questions by email to:[email protected]
August, 2014 Update
1. Should I take my father to the family wedding?
DEAR DEMENTIA SOLUTIONS:
“I’m attending an upcoming family wedding and I’m debating whether I should take my father along. He suffers from mild to mid-stage Alzheimer’s so I’m concerned that it may not be a good idea to take him, but I also don’t want him to miss out on an opportunity to enjoy himself. What do you think I should do?”
DEAR INDECISIVE DAUGHTER:
It’s great that you want to include your father in the family wedding. However you also rightly have concerns about whether he can handle the crowd, noise and new environment, without getting agitated.
In deciding whether to take him, think about how well he does in a “party-like” atmosphere. Is he someone who tends to get anxious at these types of events? Is he a “people person” that thrives off the energy of being in social group situations?
If you decide to take him, have a back-up plan ready. If he becomes anxious he may need to be accompanied into a separate room to calm down for 10, 30 or even 45 minutes. You can also choose to have him attend a part of the wedding instead of the full event, for example the party but not the ceremony. Having a “designated driver” ready to take him home whenever he needs to leave is another useful option.
To ensure your father attends the wedding in a calm and happy state he should get enough rest beforehand and may also need to be separated from busy wedding preparations to avoid stress. Not telling him about the wedding in advance and simply letting him know on the day of the event could also prove helpful so that he doesn’t worry excessively in the lead-up.
Planning ahead is vital—it will reduce your father’s anxiety and yours. Consider all the factors in making your decision and enjoy the wedding celebration!
2. PQQ and CoQ10- Helpful in fighting dementia?
DEAR DEMENTIA SOLUTIONS:
“What is your opinion ofPQQ and CoQ10 in slowing decline when it comes to dementia?”
~ Curious Jane
DEAR CURIOUS JANE:
It’s great that you’re doing your detective-work by investigating supplements that could help in preventing and treating dementia.
There are benefits to both CoQ10 and PQQ. CoQ10 supplements have anti-aging benefits and also help reduce high blood pressure and blood sugar, which commonly affects those with dementia. PQQ (pyrroloquinoline quinine) stimulates growth of new mitochondrion—tiny cellular generators that give our body energy. Increased mitochondrion equals increased mental and physical performance. While PQQ increases mitochondrion, CoQ10 lends them more power by helping each individual mitochondria generate energy.
Give your mitochondria numbers a boost through a PQQ-rich diet including foods such as celery, papaya, kiwi, parsley, spinach, carrots, cabbage and bananas. According to a study in the Journal of Nutrition, mice fed a diet high in PQQ grew an astounding number of new mitochondrion. This is great news for the brain and heart, the organs with the most mitochondrion.
Though I’m not a scientist, evidence suggests it may slow conditions causing dementia symptoms as well as other symptoms of aging. So next time you have a meal, try including some of that PQQ and CoQ10!
3. Doctor or Lawyer – Who decides “capacity”?
DEAR DEMENTIA SOLUTIONS:
“Despite a doctor determining that my father-in-law did not have the capacity to make legal decisions due to dementia, a lawyer ignored this by acting upon my father-in-law’s legal requests. My wife and I were shocked that this was allowed to happen in Canada. Is a lawyer able to override medical advice in this way?”
~ Distressed Son-in-law
DEAR DISTRESSED SON-IN-LAW:
The line between medical and legal decision-making is often blurry, causing both emotional and financial stress to families. Know that you and your wife are not alone.
There is a key difference between a diagnosis and determining capacity to make legal decisions. A lawyer cannot make a medical diagnosis but can decide whether someone has the capacity to sign a will and appoint a Power of Attorney for example. Your father-in-law’s lawyer could not decide whether he had dementia or not, but could determine whether your father-in-law had the capacity to make legal decisions. As the BC Centre for Elder Advocacy and Support states: “legal capacity is a legal determination.” This is the case in BC and other provinces as well.
Many factors are considered in deciding capacity and some transactions, such as signing a will, require a lower level of capacity than others. An article by the Advocacy Centre for the Elderly in Ontario underscores that “mental capacity is always measured in a context, in relation to a particular decision,” which makes it a tricky and sadly, at times, a costly affair.
Despite the trouble caused to your family, I hope you were able to get some more clarity on the issue. Thank you for bringing an important topic to light for the general public.
Do you have a specific question relating to dementia that you need answered? Please submit your questions by email to: [email protected]
Karen Tyrell CDP, CPCA is a Dementia Consultant & Educator for Personalized Dementia Solutions (www.dementiasolutions.ca) and the author of the book “Cracking the Dementia Code – Creative Solutions to Cope with Changed Behaviours.” She offers her expertise on dementia care through speaking engagements, workshops and by working one-on-one with families and caregivers.