Parents' mental decline and personality changes.

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Both of our parents are in their 80's.My Dad has a history of strokes, TIA's and heart problems. My Mother had heart surgery last year,died during the surgery and was resusitated. Both of them have shown personality changes, worse with my Mom, over the past few yaers. Dad is very forgetful and acts very childish at times but swears he is not senile. He confuses his health problems with my Mom's. Due to his strokes he has difficulty with his speech,not being able to think of the words he wants to say. He is very sensitive , gets very upset, and cries or just walks away and won't speak. My Mother has become a very bitter angry person who will asy whatever she thinks and feels to everyone,with no regard for what she is saying or how the other person will feel. She has developed a "martyr" complex ,that she lets everyone have their way and then feels sorry for herself and constanly complains. No one can do anything right for her,even her shopping. She criticizes everything. She tries to finish my Dad's sentences for him and says nasty,mean thing to him,making him cry and then tells him to stop being a baby.Needless to say these are all total opposites of what they used to be. We have tried talking to Dad and he states if we put them in a retirement home he will run away. And he would. We are afraid if we say anything to Mom about how mean she has become , she either will not believe us ,or be utterly devasted for a while ,stop talking ,and then go back to what she id doing. We don't know how to bring this up at the Dr. appointment without crushing them in public or starting a huge family scene. I have tried talking to their Dr. but he said he can only discuss this in their presence. My sister moved from her home a year ago and is at her wits end and needs to go home to rest.My brothers and I have either full time jobs or children at home,so we can not move back home. I tried it last year and it caused marraige problems. My parents currently live in their own home and can care for themselves as far as ADL's but need help with transportation,house work, and such.Where do we go ??? What should we do????? We are all toatlly at a loss and my brothers do not even want to visit my parents ,or to even talk to them on the phone.

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On the need for practical help you prefer to live with them and do it yourself. OK.

On the issue of their personality changes and the sad conflicts between them, I really think the first step is medical evaluation. If their current doctor is reluctant to deal with these issues, consider seeing a specialist, such as a geriatric psychiatrist or a behavioral neurologist. If there is anything that can be done to resolve some of these issues it would greatly improve their quality of life.
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Is this something that is affordable for Seniors? I am the daughter living with them at this time. Even though this sounds like a solution, I feel like I would be letting them down by having a stranger come in to care for them. Mom can do light cleaning, cooking, and their laundry. I was doing it until she felt useless, then she just took it back. I only vacuum and do the dishes. I also run errands, drive them to church, and appts. I do miss my home but I love my parents enough to put them 1st. They took care of 4 kids until we were ready to face the world on our own, I feel it is only right that we care for them. I don't want to be selfish.
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What is your parents' financial situation like? Can they afford in-home care? It sounds like it is time to arrange for housecleaning, errands, perhaps meals, laundry, etc. If they can't afford it, contact Social Services in their county and ask for a needs assessment. Be sure that you or another family member aware of the situation is there during the assessment. Parents have a tendency to insist they don't need help!

While the doctor cannot discuss his patients with you without their authorization most doctors are glad to listen to family members. Perhaps you could write him a note before their next appointment. It is possible there could be some medical treatment for some of your parents' problem behavior but that can't happen until the doctor is aware of the problems.

My heart goes out to you. It is so hard to see people we love change and be unhappy.
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