Symptoms of Dementia?


My mom has been calling me to tell me she doesn't have any clothes. She actually has two closets full of clothes. She also calls to tell me she can't find any underwear. When she looks in her bureau drawers, she says there is no underwear there. She has been diagnosed with dementia. Is it possible she is seeing the clothes but can't identify them by looking at them?

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Aii the above suggestions are great -having fewer choices to make sounds great.
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The experience of early dementia has been studied by examining a number of factors: awareness, variability over time, and psycho-social issues. Despite impressive advances in the scientific study of dementia and frequent calls to place greater emphasis on the person with dementia, we know little about the experience of dementia, partly because we are uncertain of the extent to which we can gain access to the expereince of another person related to their own cognitive impairment.

There are a number of reports and studies of how dementia is experienced. What we do know is that prior to diagnosis, some individuals experience uncertainty about what is causing the difficulty they're experiencing with their thought process. Sometimes questioning a person can lead to emotional reactions of which fear and depression are likely results.

Here are a few of the areas to be aware of:

Awareness as agreement with others.

Don't assume lack of awareness simply because a person has evidence of mental or cognitive impairment. Awareness may vary in it's depth and breadth. Lack of awareness in one area may not mean there is not awareness in other areas.

Variability over time.

Expect considerable variablity in experience and mood over time within individuals. Differing reports on the variances of understanding from the same person over a short period of time, doesn't necessarily mean the reports are not accurate.

Awareness, variability and psychosocial influences.

Be supportive to encourage openess and honesty. People who feel devalued by any questioning, or confused about their own thinking process, may downplay their problems so that they communicate their worthiness, instead of their deficiencies. Remember to also look at a person's history to determine how long any impairment may have been evident.

*If we are to increase understanding and reduce uncertainty experienced by people with dementia, we must fully sink ourselves into dealing with truly understanding what is experienced, and likely take a more thoughtful and challenging approach to dementia.
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Hello. Now my mother has middle stage Alzheimer's. When her dementia was worsening, she would often claim she didn't have anything to wear. Even though she had closest and dressers were full. What it turned out to be was she wanted only a few items of clothes she felt secure in. Nothing else would do. It didn't matter of size or color or who bought it for her. It had to be these certain items. If those items were not visible or she didn't know where they were, she had nothing to wear.

So I clean out her closets, and she only has those certain items she liked. It really looked like she had nothing, three pairs of pants, couple of sweatsshirt, and a handful of t-shirts. Then put the other things in boxes or another room. Gradually I'd introduce another item to the closest, about one every two weeks. That way she could feel secure with the new items. Over time I was able to increase her wardrobe from a small hand full to a good amount, it's still not what it was as before.

Something about a closest full of clothes is overwhelming and they can't sort the data in their minds.
I've read that elderly parents need to feel secure because they have no control or lost control one way or another about their lives. This is also true when they want or have to have their purse or wallet even if there's nothing really important inside. They need that security.
Good luck to you.
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her closets may be so stuffed, she can't identify this row of horizontal items as clothes. Next time you're there, clean out the closets so there is space to slide on the rack. Perhaps put up some nails so you can hang items face out. Or, she may be doing a "I don't have a thing to wear" from previous "princess" outbursts, i.e, nothing suitable for the moment or seemingly out of season. Perhaps remove the winter clothes to another closet.

I have been making small signs even though Mom is on the outer edges of being able to read, and it's helped me from having to spend a frustrating twenty minutes (6x day) discussing her lack of teeth. I hand her the card describing the history of her teeth and dentures (including her decision to never have them relined nor the bottom ones replaced) while I wash her dentures, then she is resigned to reality by the time they are ready to insert. For now, anyway.
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Hi pbrackin, yes it appears that your mother really is not seeing her clothes. You may consider speaking with her doctor to help you formulate a game plan to help manage the sypmtoms (including the calls about not being able to find her clothes) and establish some routines that will help her to feel less confused. All my best to you, your mother and your family!
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Hi pbrakin, My mother had a slight dementia problem, and yes, she might not see the clothes. My mother also has closets full of clothes, and couldn't find things to wear.What I found useful, and based on the severity of her dementia, was to find a way for her to easily identify her clothes by going through her closet with her and asking what she sees and working out a system where specific clothes and her underwear are located so that when she calls you, she can be directed to the items she needs by you helping her over the phone. hope this message helps, Good Luck!
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