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My 85 yr old mother is having some severe problems with any kind of reasoning skills. Until about 6 months ago she was racing thru the grocery stores and in VERY good physicial shape, her 3 children were not able to keep up with her pace and daily schedules!! She runs rings around most people 20 years younger. It started about 6 months ago after she had carpel tunnel surgery. She HAD to have the surgery as she had several quilts started and needed to finish them and to also start Christmas presents for 2011. Since the surgery, she is not able to do much of anything that requires any thought or reasoning. I did get her to the doctor and he suggested an MRI. She set up the appt. then got home and cancelled it because she didn't think she needed it. She passed the test that the doctor questioned her on, dementia test, with flying colors, but she is having trouble with finances, TV remote, following recipes, sewing, and just about everyother thing that requires that she follow instructions or any thought process. Her personality has also changed. She is very defensive, very outspoken and downright rude. My father was diagnosed 3 yrs ago with dementia and he is doing better than she is mentally. She is still driving and we can't seem to get her to quit. The eye doctor has cleared her to drive (8 months ago) but she can't ever find anything, it has to be pointed out to her, even if an object is right in front of her, My mother was the most thoughtful, sweet person that was such a talented seamstress, and the best cook/baker around. She is now not very nice at times, acts like a 2 yr old at times, and wonders around the house starting to do 1 project and by the end of the day she has started 100 projects and not finished a one of them. And all of them are out and in piles scattered everywhere. She can not even get my fathers medications correct and has given him some wrong ones and left some out. She doesn't know to check on him to see that he has taken his medications. I am now staying with them about 5 days a week to help out with daily chores that she can not do now. Cooking, dishes, and just following them around to make sure medications are taken, and to tell her what she was doing last and where things are. I read some on dementia, alzheimers, and nothing sounds like what is going on with her. She still has knowledge of dates, days, seasons, writing sentences, drawing pictures, current events, but when it comes to doing everyday tasks she has always done, she can not start it or can't complete it. Any suggestions?

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Anesthetics can have a devastating effect on aging folks. My dad was thrown into instant, severe dementia after surgery. We don't know for sure what caused it, but knew research throws some light on certain anesthetics.
Some people improve over time, but many don't. A scan is important for your mom - either a PET scan or MRI - whatever the doctor thinks is best. Obviously, something is going on with her. If she has no infection, and no new medications (both of these should be checked as they can cause dementia symptoms), then it could be dementia caused by the operation. Please keep working on her to have a scan. A third party - non-family member - may be able to convince her. Far too often, family dynamics get in the way when we try to convince our parents to do something.
Good luck with this. It sounds like you need lots of back up. Please keep us informed with how your do.
Carol
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MD2, This is all good advice. Yes, Dementia can be brought on by anesthesia, and so much more it seems, I do hope that you're speaking with her Doctor about all your concerns.

My heart goes out to you, My mom was relatively fine up until a TIA that changed everything overnight and I don't think I will ever get over losing her so suddenly and unexpectedly. But I still love the woman who she is now very much, and we will just keep going along...

Stay Strong.
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I have read somtimes at first they can pass those memory test, esspecially with the vascular dementia type. I know I suspect my aunt had the same thing but it makes it hard cause she seems almost mormal most of the time. Outsider realitives that speak with her on the phone think she's fine. Its those closet that see the difference. The mri should be able to tell if she has areas of trouble. Though it won't say what her diagnosis is it is an important part of the diagnosis.
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It was either a CAT scan or an MRI that showed my mother had had a couple silent strokes. We had noticed her memory wasn't as good, she would confuse date and mess up her bills & checking account. It' wasn't until she had a major stroke that they ran the tests, saw the 'dead' areas from the previous silent strokes that we realized what we thought was normal old age forgetfulness was actually vascular dementia. Best Wishes.
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Its all true - in vascular dementia, which is really similar to having lots of very tiny strokes, plus or minus a couple or three larger ones, basic orientation and superficial conversational skills may be intact, while judgement and critical thinking can have taken quite a hit. A COAT or mini mental status is much more geared to detect Alzheimer's than vascular types of dementia. If you can't get an imaging study, or even if you can - a more comprehensive geriatric exam and/or neuropsych test would be most pertinent. You can have some mild degree of cerebral atrophy just with aging, but its the whole picture with emphasis on how the brain functions that matters. The vision problem you describe sounds like it could be cortical in nature; the person can see but can't consistently interpret what they are seeing. Possibly if the doctor you take her to just does not believe anything can be wrong if she knows the date, day, and time, some short videos would help. The other resource out there is a good OT evaluation, possibly including a specialized driving test that you could tell mom was to help her drive better. Preventing further strokes and optimizing medication approaches, and maybe some supplements could help or at least keep things form getting worse fast. As hard as it may be, now is also the time to try to get a POA in place and to go over everything finacially because the vulnerability to scams and huge late fees due to errors and oversights at this stage is huge. .
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Please look into Dementia with Lewy Bodies (DLB or sometimes LBD). The memory fluctuates between 'almost' normal and utter confusion. Also, the person loses their ability to remember how to do common tasks. No person with any form of dementia should be driving. Get her to a neurologist. Let him/her be the 'bad guy' in telling her no more driving. They must also report her to the state DMV. Be careful; the person can put on 'showtime', appearing quite normal in front of a doctor or even other family members. Afterward, they will need extra sleep because of their showtime efforts.
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Thank you Carol. I appreciate your input. A couple yrs ago my father needed a knee replacement, but they wouldnt do it because of the anesthetics. They felt that it would make him a lot worse. My mother was is such good shape we just thought that for the short time she would be "out" it would be ok. They took her back and 16 minutes later I was told surgery was over and doctor was waiting on me to tell me how good everything went. That 16 minutes took the mother that we knew and loved away from us. It is very sad.
Again, thank you for your input.
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Lewysavy is right - that is yet another form of dementia, more like vascular than Alzheimer's, but with a few of its own features. It has a reputation for responding badly to some meds that might otherwise be tried. I wanted to note that in Arkansas where I live and some other states, the docs are not required to report to the DMV, though they can if they think it is the patient's or the generl public's best interest to do so - check your own state regs on that, alogn with any appeals process there may be, so you know what you are or are not getting into with that!
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my mother changed after open heart surgery, she has since been diagnosed with parkinsons and has cognitive degeneration.
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QB, That's another form of Dementia with Lewy Bodies. It's called Parkinson's disease with Dementia (PDD). Check out the Lewy Body Dementia Assoc. website: www.lbda.org.
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