What do you do when aging parents start to show visible signs of behavioral change? Is there anything you can do for your parents or grandparents if they reach this stage?
It’s no surprise that as elderly people’s physical and mental capabilities decline, many lash out and become angry, impatient, or downright hostile, and typically those closest to the elder are the ones that take the brunt of the abuse.
We received a pretty amazing story from a family member of one of RJ’s team members that raised a question none of us expected: can CBD help calm the anxiety, agitation, and stress that comes with the age-related decline of dementia?
This story took our team members elderly grandmother from cursing out and throwing things at her caregivers to a calmer mental state than she’d had in year: and CBD was the crux of the change.
Remedy Story: how CBD transformed my elderly mother’s abusive behavior
We at Remedy Journey are always on the lookout for interesting stories of how people use CBD in real life, and this great story came to us from within the family. As in, this story is about one of our team member’s grandmother, and it was written by our team member’s aunt, who is the primary caregiver along with her brother.
Agitation, anxiety, and abuse: the difficulty of watching my mother decline
My mother turned 92 this year, and she’s been alone since my father’s death just over 25 years ago. My brother, Ron, lives with her and is her primary caretaker along with myself, and the last two years have been increasingly unlivable for us.
She suffers from moderate dementia and has difficulty remembering people and places, gets easily confused, and often simply shuts down and becomes quasi-catatonic if there’s too much unfamiliarity around her. But the past year or two have yielded increasingly erratic, abusive, and even violent behavior from her.
At first, her ire was pointed mostly at the in-home caregiver service that we used to help take care of her (she can no longer cook or clean). She started berating the caregivers, yelling at them and insulting them, even throwing things at them. The service initially had to cycle through caregivers every time they paid her a visit because she was so abusive that nobody would return; eventually, when there was no one left, they told us that they would no longer help us.
The family was mortified; embarrassed at her behavior and at the vitriol she spewed at these poor helpful people, confused as to where this behavior was coming from, and, perhaps more than anything, pained at seeing her so unhappy all the time. It seemed like no way to live.
CBD: a shot in the dark
One of my sisters (and fellow target of abuse from our mother) had started using CBD to manage her anxiety and found it to be very effective. She floated the idea of trying it with mom.
I was skeptical: I’d heard of CBD but never heard of it being used to help calm abusive elders. Sure, her behavior may be driven by anxiety or agitation, but what reason is there to believe that CBD might help? And then there’s the simple fact that she would never agree to take it.
Our mother, you see, is a very conservative woman who watches Fox News all day (and oh do we have our theories as to how that’s contributed to her current mental state). A compound derived from hemp, the same plant that weed comes from? She would have an aneurysm. But this was also a, shall we say, solvable problem.
Now, before we get into it let me state, the family was VERY desperate: desperate to help her and improve her quality of life, and desperate to stop her abusive behavior. The fact is, she never would have taken CBD on her own, we researched it thoroughly to ensure that it was harmless and that, if not effective, there would be no adverse consequences.
So, yes, we decided to slip some into her morning and afternoon tea. But we honestly never expected what came next!
Night and day: an unbelievable transformation
Yeah, it worked. The extremity of her abusive behavior diminished almost immediately. She stopped yelling, stopped cursing, no throwing things, no tantrums. She was much calmer, much more mellow. Even the godawful Fox News she watched all day didn’t get her fired about, she didn’t start ranting about evil Barack and Hillary. The difference in her behavior was truly night and day.
Fast-forward almost 6 months and the results have held. We give her CBD twice throughout the day, once with morning tea and again with afternoon tea (25mg of Charlotte’s Web original CBD oil). The family (me, Ron, and my two sisters Trish and Catherine) take turns “dosing” her, since no one feels good about that aspect of it. But the results speak for themselves: she’s just much less volatile, much less angry, much less upset, much less anxious. CBD truly and dramatically improved her quality of life. It’s helped her attain a little bit of peace, something she just couldn’t find before.
Conclusion: can CBD’s calming properties be applied in unexpected ways?
(RJ here again) There are some applications that CBD is well-known for: anxiety, skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis, chronic pain and joint pain. Calming down your abusive elderly grandmother? Not so much.
But it also makes sense: at the root of her behavior was obviously a deep anxiety and agitation that infected her every move and minute of existence.
Now, there’s a lot about CBD that we don’t know. A LOT. The studies haven’t been done on exactly how effective it is for many things, and our understanding of the underlying mechanics of how exactly it works is very much in its infancy. But here’s what we know: the endocannabinoid system (ECS) regulates and influences a whole host of bodily processes: sleep, alertness, fatigue, pain, and mood.
Imbalances in the ECS play a role in a host of conditions like depression, anxiety, and pain. CBD, it seems, works as a sort of tonic for the ECS. Your depression or anxiety or pain MAY partly be a consequence of problems with your ECS, and if so, CBD may help.