Can Alzheimer's or dementia significantly worsen in 3 months?

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Three months ago, my mom was admitted to the ICU for acute kidney failure. Since that time she has suffered with an extreme case of delirium. Before entering the ICU, my mother's mind was very sharp but she was beginning to become a little forgetful. Now, after three months, she resides at a rehab facility. The doctor and staff are treating her as if she has full fledged Alzheimer's or Dementia. I have been a caregiver for my mom for over three years now and I know her inside out. I can recognize when she gets a UTI or becomes delirious. I do not agree with the medical staff at the rehab center where my mother currently resides - especially since she was recently put on a drug (scopolamine) that is notorious for inducing delirium in elderly patients. So, can Alzheimer's or Dementia progress from being slightly forgetful to talking about weird things that don't exist or make any sense over the course of three months? I know Alzheimer's progresses slowly. But what is considered slowly? One month, six months, a year, two years, ten years?

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There is a saying, "If you've seen one case of Alzheimer's, you've seen ONE case." Much of the literature is based on what is typical. But everyone is different. It is not uncommon for an infection or hospital stay to "Kick start" Alzheimer's in a drastic manner. This happened to my husband after a relatively minor URI, and he wasn't even hospitalized. Your best chance of having some recovery for your Mother is to get a diagnosis from a Neurologist or other specialist and then be prescribed medication for this disease. Aricept, Namenda, and similar medications really do make a difference in many patients. In addition, if you see symptoms of hallucination, illusions and/or delusions, then some of the atypical antipsychotics can help too. Quetiapine (at very low dosage) is one medication that is often used with good results.
I'm sorry to hear about your mom. Yup, hospital stays and any anesthesia will mess with the elderly brain function. My husbands brother is a family doctor and confirmed this. Our mom broke her hip (85yrs old) and recovered. Since then a down hill memory decline. She's 91 now, knows just us 2 daughters. Thankfully we got her moved to a facility that's independent to CBRF before she got to the worse point and it wasn't easy for any involved. We had to get her declared incompetent for safety, our peace of mind and all the mixed up stuff she did and said someone else did it. NOW looking back before this sad turn of her life we recognize the signs of her on set Alzheimer's. We don't correct her or give her to much information. This confuses, upsets her. We listen, learn, love and laugh with her. It's still tough!!!
Any change of residence can affect Alzheimer's or Dementia. As for the delirium, 90% of elders have that when they are in the hospital, around 20% of young people have that after a serious surgery.

Falls can also fast-forward memory issues. I noticed any time my Dad had a fall his memory slipped a little bit more... it wasn't affected by any small tumbles.

My Mom went from being fairly clear minded into accelerated dementia after have two major falls two weeks apart that had head trauma :(
loveu, you are welcome. When you are new to this, it is very hard to even know the questions to ask. That's what us oldies are here for.
Your mother is 78 years old, has had repeated back and neck surgeries (what for?), and has recently spent a considerable length of time in ICU following acute kidney failure (how caused?).

All of these factors - the reason for the surgery, post-op effects, severe (nearly fatal) infection, and the trauma of being in ICU in itself, which is well-documented - will have stressed your mother's brain enormously. But you're intent on arguing with her doctors about whether this is normal progression of Alzheimers Disease? Really?!

Hyoscine/scopolamine is used to reduce secretions, for example when they are causing breathing difficulties. I only know of it because it was included in my mother's end of life drug package, though thank goodness it wasn't needed. It is not given to patients lightly.

What I'm saying is that you need to focus on what matters, and to do that you need to get a full, clear, detailed picture of your mother's overall condition. If what the doctors are prescribing doesn't make sense to you, then for heaven's sake don't go online and start a fight with them. Get one of them to sit down with you and explain the care plan until you are confident that you understand it.

You have every right to an opinion. And your knowledge of what is normal for your mother is hugely valuable - that's the baseline her doctors can work with. But there is clearly a heck of a lot more going on than "age-related decline" and it's really important that you see the full picture.
freqflyer, I recognize that my mother is experiencing delirium. However, maybe her symptoms of Alzheimer's are evolving. It could be that a combination of delirium and Alzheimer's is complicating things. The strange thing is that I am having a hard time accepting the fact that my mom has Alzheimer's. I remember back to when I was in junior high. I would go to the nursing home to visit my mom's aunt who was in the advanced stages of Alzheimer's. It was traumatizing. My mom said something to the effect that if she were to ever become like her aunt, then "let me go." So it hurts knowing that my mom is heading in that direction.
I began doing some online research on Alzheimer's. Before my mom went into acute kidney failure three months ago, she had difficulty recalling words while conversing - mostly words associated with specific names of things that she knew very well, like hydrangeas, nutmeg, crocheting. Also, she expressed her frustration on her inability to recall these words. From what I gathered, this type of memory loss is a classic symptom of early Alzheimer's.

Getting back to my original question, I read an online article. (I would post the link to the website, but I am unsure if doing so is allowed here.) In any case, the author did a nice job outlining the timeline and "the seven stages of Alzheimer's. In this article and others, timelines for each of the seven stages are given in terms of years. That's why I was skeptical about the drastic change in my mother's cognitive abilities over the course of three months.

I learned the difference between dementia and Alzheimer's. Many people incorrectly use these words interchangeably. If I am correct, dementia is a general term that refers to a condition of cognitive decline. Many diseases (such as Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, and Alzheimer's) can cause dementia. So, I suppose Alzheimer's is a specific disease that manifests itself as dementia.

At this point, I know that three months ago (just prior to being admitted to the ICU for acute kidney failure), my mother had early Alzheimer's, and, since that time, she was and still is struggling with delirium. I am hoping that her current status is a result of both Alzheimer's and delirium. I say this because if she recovers from delirium, she would revert back to her status prior to being in the ICU - which is early Alzheimer's. If this happens, then I can at least have a conversation with her again. Everything comes down to "if" - is this wishful thinking? Although my mother is alive, I feel like I have already lost her.
gladimhere, Interesting that you mention "frontal temporal dementia." My mom fell and bumped her head. She was fine, but being on blood thinners, the doctors were afraid of brain hemorrhages. So was held for observation at the ER and had several imaging tests done (MRI, CT). My brother (a neurosurgeon) explained the results to me. She had no issues from bumping her head. However, he said something to the effect that my mom has voids (brain matter) missing from the front part of her brain. At the time, I did not realize the significance of this although it sounded serious. I am glad that you brought that up. I am going to ask my brother about this. Thank you.
There are more than 50 kinds of dementia. ALZ is the most common, but 40% of people with dementia have something else. It is often hard to make a correct diagnosis early on.

My husband had Lewy Body Dementia for 10 years. The first year was the worst. His neurologist's theory was that he also had inflammation in the brain the first several months. When that subsided and he was "only" exhibiting dementia it was much less severe. So it seems plausible to me that if your mom has other things going on besides dementia that could make the dementia seem much worse. The dementia won't get better, but she may recover close to her pre-trauma condition. There is no way to tell except to let it play out.

And, yes, any dementia can show a sudden and severe decline, even though that is not "typical."

My heart goes out to you. Stay in touch here. We care.
Luvu you may want to Google symantic dementia. The wife of a friend was diagnosed with this, it is a type of frontal temporal dementia. FTD. She had trouble remembering words for every day words. Bird, flower, tomato, for example. That is when the family realized there was a serious problem.
Curious, why is she getting scopolamine? Has there been any discussion of d'c'ing it in favor of another drug?

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