The person the doctors see isn't the same one I take care of every day.

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Just curious how many other caregivers have encountered this...
Recently had to take my MIL to the ER for some x-rays after she took a tumble out of her wheelchair (nothing broken, thank God). While my husband and I waited with her I noticed she seemed remarkably alert and responsive. In fact, the way she interacted with the ER doc you'd never know she had dementia...almost made me want to grab him by the scrubs and tell him just one week ago she was asking me what I was planning to make for Christmas dinner!!
She does this at the neurologist's office too. It's like she prepares herself for the usual list of questions - what's your name? Date of birth? What year is this? Where are you? She invariably passes with almost flying colors (responses are slow but almost always correct). And again I find myself wanting to scream "you should have seen her yesterday when she was trying to put her Depend on over her head!!!"
Anyone else come across this? Do encounters with medical professionals cause their brains to flood with adrenaline or something?

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I am a full time caregiver for my husband and work a full time job so it is very stressful for me to have to deal with this. I didn't realize it had a name but when we left one doctor appointment recently he even asked me, "So how did I do" I just looked at him, didn't know what to say except that when you talk to the doctor you are supposed to be yourself not put on a show. He is laughing one minute and crying the next so our days are all ups and downs at this point. He was officially diagnosed in March and it has just spiraled from there.
He also has sundowning symptoms so I get very little rest. Any help on this would be greatly appreciated.
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My mother also showtimes for my brothers. They talk to her for a few minutes on the phone and thinks she seems all right to them. They don't have any idea of what her day to day is like. My SIL even told me that my mother didn't have dementia, because she had seen dementia and my mother wasn't like that. Fortunately, on their last trip my mother told the same story back to back, with all the same words and everything. My SIL looked at me like she finally got it.

My mother does something else that can be exasperating. She has up days and down days. On her up days she can seem almost normal. Anybody around her on those days would think all is fine, so I must be nuts thinking that there was anything wrong.
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I'm SO glad I joined this group; amazingly helpful information. My mother, who I care for in my home, does this very well. I did not realize it had a name. It is frustrating because her friends from church who come to call, and even other family members don't see how she really functions. I don't want to degrade her to others, but sometimes I wonder if I have the memory problem; is this really the same person who was just acting so helpless and forgetful an hour ago!? I know there is no right way to handle it, but it helps so much to hear others describe the same thing I've been struggling with.
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I think that this is largely why my MIL has avoided coming to family events for awhile and if she does attend, she only comes for a few hours. I've noticed that something was "off" for about a year, and yet everyone kept coming up with excuses (especially her). Now it's to the point where we'll be talking about something and she'll ask me the same thing five times in a row within a minute of one another and then try to turn it back on me like I am the one who is "going crazy."

*sigh*
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I agree it is showtiming. Mother used to do that all the time. I think the docs could see through it.
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Thnx jeannegibbs - had no idea there was actually a name for this. Thinking back she has always been really wiped after doctor appointments...I always attributed it to anxiety and the physical stress of getting washed and dressed up and the long car rides back and forth.
I actually did bring a list of recent cognitive changes to her last neurologist appt. - led to a prescription for Exelon and plans to run a more intensive cognitive exam next time (July). A little bit of the squeaky wheel does help sometimes!
It is frustrating though. Her home health care case manager came out a while back to do an evaluation and she was on top of her game again...until she was asked if she ever had any hallucinations or delusions. MIL said, " oh no, nothing like that. I don't have illusions about anything." :)
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It is called "showtiming." For a limited period a person in early to moderate dementia can pull their act together and put on a good show of normalcy. Sometimes good enough to fool doctors, especially doctors not used to dealing with dementia. This takes a great effort and they may be very tired afterward, or crabby, etc. This is common enough to have a name, and very frustrating for caregivers! Eventually they are no longer able to do this.

In a way this is similar to what most of do when we want to make a good impression. We are on our best behavior in a job interview or a school conference or at a party. Showtiming is similar but the contrast between "normal" behavior and showtime is much greater than it typically is for us entertaining company.

If possible it is a good idea to get a note to the doctor describing the real situation, before the person with dementia is seen.

And those little quickie memory tests? If someone can't pass, that is truly a sign of a problem, but that sure doesn't mean that everyone who passes has no memory problems!
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