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My mother seems to treat me and my husband mean but can change her mood when someone else comes to our home. She does this around doctors and social workers who check her. They are not getting the true picture and I am afraid she may be on the wrong medicine Can someone with dementia turn it on and off like this?

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Unfortunately, this is common. Many of us have had elders who become super charming around professionals, and even friends. They put on an act that gets them through the visit.
Around you, you mother probably feels "safe" to act how she feels, which is likely frightened and confused. Of course, when her dementia worsens, it will be harder for her to "act." But she wants to appear all right to these people, which just frustrates the whole business. All I can say is that you aren't alone. Try to explain to the doctor and social workers that she does this- you may need to write them a letter. It's likely they've witnessed this behavior before. Good luck. As I said, many of us have been in your situation - my mother was "just fine" whenever a medical person or an old friend showed up. As soon as they were gone, she's be exhausted and back to her impaired behavior.
Carol
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My mother has passed the point where she cans fake anything, but she will show me her true feelings where she won't with others. While she isn't mean, she sometimes gets very cranky. Who wouldn't when the whole world has become so confusing?
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Agreed and agreed - I must have at least done the right thing when I wrote a letter to mom's doctor and asked him to examine and evaluate her for early alz or dimentia, his opinion was that she was 'just bored'. But, end results are the same, she 'livens up' when she has a visitor, but I tend to think that I after hearing the same stories to me all day about how badly she feels over and over, she likes to have a new audiance. It is not that I lack sympathy, I just cannot sit around with her and listen to her constant complaints all day. Besides, what am I supposed to do, agree with her, say that she is in lousy shape and is going to die soon? That would be really helpful, wouldn't it? She wallows in a bog of self-pity with me, is lively and 'feisty' with others, though I think it is a cover for the fact she does not understand a lot of things and uses a feisty, snappy answer to camoflage that she does not understand. I, on the other hand, require her to give me coherant answers to questions, not a smokescreen to lead me in another direction.
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We all ware a mask- with or without dementia. We react differently depending on who we are around. Remember the old Jello commercial with Bill Cosby- treat your family like guests......well, for a person with dementia anyone that they don't know they will impress and then their social mask comes off.
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All of the previous comments are true. I didn't realize what a good actor my husband is until he was diagnosed with ALZ. He so desperately wants to appear normal to others and be like he was with them in pastimes that he's able muster up whatever it takes to pull it off then it's back to the unreal world of ALZ as soon as they leave. Relatives we hadn't seen in a couple years came to visit recently. Hubby joined in the conversation, walked down memory lane with them, I marveled at how well he talked with them. As they were leaving the driveway and we were smiling and waving goodbye my husband turned to me and said, " who are those people? They seem to know the same people I do.". That's when I knew for sure just how good he was at faking it.
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Very common unfortunately! My mom did NOT have dementia however, she was obnoxious with me, very controlling & demanding (she tried to be, but I wouldn't let it happen) but as soon as a doctor, friend, staff worker or even a stranger walked into the room she was the most pleasant person - actually over accommodating and gracious. This had been going on for years - she died last year at 88 years old. The psychiatrists, doctors, etc. all told me that people her age that have failing health issues do this. Why? Cause they feel they can act obnoxious towards the closest one to them - the caregiver basically, since they feel that person will take it and will always come back to them and be there for them. On the other hand, they feel they MUST be cordial and overly compensate being nice to doctors, staff, friends, etc., because if they don't act that way (and are obnoxious) these people won't come back to them. She knew exactly what she doing, but like I said I didn't fall for it. So in reality they are controlling the caregiver. I just shrugged it off, but I did make it VERY clear to her doctors, staff and her & my friends what she was doing. Many of them also saw the difference in her demeanor when I was present and they couldn't believe the different personality-the one they never see when I'm not present. Last year before I went on a cruise, I took her shopping (which I did weekly) and told her that she needed to make sure she had enough goceries for 2 weeks because I would be away. I found her in the store an hour later with hardly any groceries in her cart. I asked her "mom, why do you have so little in your cart, I won't be able to take you shopping next week" to which she very sarcastically replied "well I'm not going to eat while you're away and I'm telling everyone you're not taking care of me. I wanted to make sure everyone knew what she would say to me, they all knew I was taking excellent care of her, but I wanted it documented - cause I didn't know who she would eventually say this to and I wanted people to vouch for me in the event social services showed up at my door. When she went out with her friends they would tell me what a sweet wonderful person she was, the waitress at one restaurant loved her so much and called her "precious". Then one day I was at house, when her two friends came to visit. The phone rang, she was sitting next to it and I was in the next room. It kept ringing and I said "mom aren't you going to answer it?" She replied "no I WANT YOU to answer it for me". I said "but you're right next to it and besides whoever is calling wants to talk to you". She replied "but I WANT you to answer it - why do you think I had a daughter - to do things for me". So the phone stopped ringing and then she blamed me for not knowing who it was. Needless to say, her friends were in shock as they never saw this controlling, demanding attitude in her. I was glad I had witnesses. The doctors all said she knew exactly what she was doing. In your case, I would definitely make sure that others know what is going on - her doctors, staff and friends, by talking to them alone, writing or e-mailing them. Good luck!
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GOOD AFTERNOON:
I AGREE WITH ALL THAT'S BEEN SAID BUT, I WOULD LIKE TO ADD THAT
MEDICATION CAN ALSO ALTER THE MOODS. MY MOTHER WAS ON A COCKTAIL OF MEDS. I SLOWLY TRANSITIONED HER TO A COCKTAIL OF LITTLE MEDS LOTS OF VITAMINS. SHE IS MUCH CALMER AND MORE PEACEFUL. ONCE IN A WHILE SOMETHING MIGHT SURFACE AND IF I CHECK SHE MIGHT OF MISSED A DOSE OR TWO OF MEDS. SO I WOULD REVIST THE MEDS. SOMETIMES THE SIDE EFFECTS CAN BE WORSE THAN THE MEDS.
GOOD LUCK
DPRAYS
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WOW can I say it sounds like I wrote this question and got it answered! Same here. Mom with Alz is nice around the doctors etc..... and mean to me and my husband. She was in rehab for 40 days recooping with hip replamcement and I would say to nurses there that mom was cranky etc... and they'd say she was VERY nice to them! They even took her off her meds that helped calm her and still nice to them but when i showed up I got an earful. She's home now and I am thankful for the time I have with her as I know it will all be to soon when she passes in the mean time dealing with her MOOD swings......
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Many people with early or moderate dementia can do "show time" and muster up enough energy and willpower to seem fine to doctors and visitors. This takes a huge effort and they are often exhausted afterward and may revert to being particularly cranky. As Carol says, eventually the dementia progresses to the point where showtime just isn't possible anymore. In a way you can be happy that your mother can still pull it off. It means that she still has some control over her mind and her behavior. Carol is also right that you need to report the reality of day-to-day functioning to the medical professionals, by email or mail or phone, without mother present.

I know a man with early-onset dementia whose wife did not believe he was truly sick because he could turn it on or off at will. I understand her frustration, but that attitude made an extremely challenging situation impossible. Please understand that the fact your mother can hold it together for short periods of time does not mean she is faking it the rest of the time.
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Oh yes, this is my Dad too. Mr. Cranky, then suddenly charming around someone else. I get confused as to who he really likes or dislikes!
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