My mother is over 90, lives alone, cooks, cleans, writes checks, goes to church etc. - is "ok". In the last 6 months, she believes a crew comes in at night to work on things in the house (rearranges bricks in the fireplace, paints walls, etc.) and a woman steals her clothes, but replaces them with old ones. She wants to call the police to report it and make them stop. What should I do? (she's been tested recently for dementia by GB and neurologist and passes all the test just fine)
I rationalized each episode ... getting older .. not busy enough but it was upsetting for both of us.
You mentioned your mom sees a neurologist... you may want to mention her stories to him /her. I mentioned in passing the stories and her vivid details to her neurologist and imagine my shock when he said he wanted to try her on Zyprexa.. I was appalled as I knew it as a medicine for psychotic/obsessive thoughts. He essentially said same part of the brain...
Long story still long... it worked .. she hasn't had obsessive thoughts or the terrible nightmares of purple monsters she was describing.
As I was sleeping here every other night back then ( 24/7 now) I knew no one was in her house but was shocked that the neurologist just nodded and said ok ... this is what to do. As a side effect ... the med is taken at bedtime and helps her mostly sleep through.
I figured might be worth a conversation with your mom's doctor ....Sorry so long but I didn't want to just say --- hey try this drug !!!!💟
Similar stories from her dementia journey:
- Someone was breaking into the house by entering the attic window (3 stories up), exiting the locked/barricaded attic door, getting meat out of the (locked) freezer, cooking & eating it, then washing the dishes and putting them away. The reason for the story? She couldn't find her favorite skillet - so the criminals must have put it away where she couldn't find it.
- She was a CIA/FBI/DEA agent - or all three, depending on the day. She'd claim the neighbors were drug dealers and hide behind the shrubs armed with her blue slouch hat and dark sunglasses and a huge thermos of coffee and watch them all day.
...and so many more.
I hope you can find some answers - I can't really add too many more suggestions than have already been made here, but just know that you're not alone and you can come here anytime to vent, ask questions or just talk about the situation.
If this isn't a UTI but something more to the affect of dementia "sundowning", then GardenArtist above had some excellent ideas.
I went to the police station myself, presented my driver's license, address, phone number, e-mail address, and explained what was going on, namely, that my mother would call to say that her car had been stolen. Two months later when my mother called to tell them that her car had been stolen--by me-- they had it in their notes on the portable tablet, and knew to appease her.
They were so cool about it that they didn't even bother to tell me it had happened. I found out because my mom told me the police had been at her house. I checked at the police station and they confirmed what I have said above.
So, be active, be preemptive. It is so much easier. Good luck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
I asked about Ambien b/c 3 nurses have told me it caused nightmares for them. Bizarre nightmares.
But your mother is experiencing the same "vision", repeatedly, so it's not a nightmare. Is her house in need of cleaning and/or repair? Sometimes these unconscious concerns can manifest themselves in "visions" or "delusions." Beyond that, I'm puzzled.
There are others here with more experience and hopefully can help you.
As to reporting to the police, perhaps you could tell her a therapeutic fib, such as that you did contact the police for her, they're checking to determine if anyone else has had that problem and will let her know IF they are able to find the "perpetrators". Or maybe that other people have had similar problems but it seems the perpetrators are moving from city to city and it's hard to track them down.
If she asks again, or repeatedly, make a pretend private call, or call from work or away from home, then tell her that they're still trying to find the people, that they've driven by her house at night but don't see any unusual activity.
Or you might even ask the police if they have any suggestions that could comfort her w/o involving actual police involvement.
There's probably a reason that she focuses on fixing the house, replacing clothing, and cleaning. Can you think of a reason why these would be specific areas of concern?
Since you indicated in follow up posts that you are getting some additional testing done, the best this to do is try to cope until those tests/results are done. As others noted, the simple test a PCP might administer will not really resolve anything. In the early stages of dementia, many can "pass" this test. Another thing is that a PCP or other doctors do not see mom on a regular basis, or for long during their exams. To really "see" the early onset, one needs to know what was "normal" before and how that has changed. Sometimes it can even be difficult for someone who lives with the person, because it is such a gradual change at that point - someone who has regular contact, but not all the time is more likely to spot the changes (my brothers did not see it until it became obvious - I called several times/week, visited multiple times in a month, so when the repetition and inability to recall recent information started, I took the time to lookup information on dementia and was therefore aware much sooner than they were (and more armed with what to expect and how to deal with some issues. They are still mostly clueless!)
Now, saying your mother is over 90, lives alone, cooks, cleans, writes checks, goes to church etc. - is "ok", really does not cut it. Our mother was also just over 90, lived alone, claimed to be cooking, cleaning, handling finances AND driving. The car/driving was the first issue to resolve (actually second, I mention finances below.) The accident prior to this becoming obvious was just chalked up to old age and being nervous, but having an expired inspection sticker, no clue how the back of the driver mirror disappeared and reporting a flat when it was a split tire with a ruined rim with no idea how it happened, with some other minor damage, we (mostly I) decided the car had to go. I took her for groceries, but had to clear out old freezer burned chicken and stop her from buying more as she had some that was still good in the freezer. Subsequent visits I would find the fresh veggies, etc all dried up or moldy in the fridge. Her mantra to anyone who tried to tell her she needed help or to move to AL was she was independent, could cook and take care of herself. In reality, she could no longer cook and was relying on frozen dinners and packaged foods. We had already arranged to move her to MC when she injured her leg, told no one but the neighbor (who reported a bruise on her leg) and could have died from this as it was really not a bruise, but cellulitis. So obviously she could NOT cook OR take care of herself. I had already taken over the finances because of errors, over-payments, under-payments, etc. So, unless you are monitoring these things carefully, she may just be pulling the wool over your eyes! Take a REALLY good look around the place (under beds, behind furniture, the freezer, cabinets, etc) and if possible check her mail/bill statements to see if they are over/underpaid or just plain overdue! Find a way to go over her financial statements for the last 3-6 months.
Many months prior, around the time we hired people to come check on her and ensure she took her meds (put them in a locked pill dispenser), one brother installed cameras at the front door (in and out) and the basement finished area. From this we witnessed HER version of sundowning - at night, just before bed, check the door lock, sidelights, something in the kitchen (camera view did not reach that far) and then the LR (light turned on then off would shine on the cabinets through the "pass through" window.) It was not until the other brother was up to "visit" and check out MC places that we found out the kitchen check was the dishwasher. This started out a few times/week with only a couple of iterations, and was somewhat amusing at first. But eventually this became a nightly marathon, running an hour to an hour and a half of checking these same things over and over and over... This would trip the camera every time she passed through!! I was getting 2 alerts every few minutes during that 1-1.5 hours! She also accused multiple people of taking items from her, when it reality she just had no clue what she did with the items. Except for a few times where she "snuck up" on the sidelights to look out (expecting the boogeyman?) and one time she seemed to trip on something, put her hand on the door to steady herself and then stared up at who knows what, we have no way to know if she was hallucinating. It is possible. Maybe she suspected someone was in the LR, resulting in that check. There was really no reason to check there (I can understand a lock check, but the rest? NO.)
She never reported anything to us, but she could have had some minor hallucinations. The cameras also allowed us to see that she was wearing the same clothing for up to 7-8 days!! I will wear something over again, no big deal. Mom however has more clothes than Marshalls or TJs (had no clue how much until we moved her out - OMG!!!) She always liked to "dress" for the day, so to see her wearing the same items over and over, even when they were "dribbled" on, was another clue. She also denied going to the basement area, but the cameras told us otherwise!
Although mom's condo also seemed to be "clean" and "well kept", she was not doing much to "dirty" it and after we moved her we find that although obvious minor cleaning was done (dishes, counter, sweep floor of kitchen), more intense cleaning was NOT getting done. Deep cleaning? Forget it. Sooo, unless someone stays there for a week or more, you really cannot be sure what is going on and what is/isn't getting done (including finances - does anyone help her balance the account each month, or ensure the bills are paid correctly?)
As for your brother, being unable to "cope" with her and "lashing out", this makes me suspect even more that she has some kind of dementia. People who are not informed about dementia and how to handle those who have it can often get frustrated, annoyed or angry with the behaviors they are seeing/dealing with. If mom is telling him these "stories" and he tries to contradict or correct her, mom is likely to get testy, which WILL frustrate your brother and can lead to "lashing out" in anger. This IS her reality and one needs to know how to "go along" with it, agree with whatever and make up how to handle it best as you encounter it. Offering to "check" on things, distracting her, changing focus when possible to something else, whatever works, just go along with her and agree.
"We did go to the police and they sent someone out to check the house, she said the policewoman didn't know anything." Of course the police do not know anything! If someone told our mom something she did not want to hear or agree with, they were labeled idiots (actually something else, but idiots works!) No one, and I do mean NO ONE is going to convince your mom that this is not going on. It IS her reality. Having the police aware of the issue is about the best you can do, so that if she does call them they can try their best to handle it (I'm sure dementia training is not included in all the training they have to go through, although some may be aware of it as they have friends or family dealing with this.)
So, again, getting that specialized assessment and possibly some medication that can alleviate the hallucinations or eliminating anything that might contribute to the hallucinations will be the first step. Meanwhile, learn all you can about dementia and educate the siblings as well. They may balk at this too - my older brother scoffed at a link I sent to him about sun-downing, because it was labeled "sleep disorders" on the website. READ IT, it has nothing to do with sleep really, but it CAN explain what we were seeing on the cameras! If she is deemed to have dementia of some kind, you and your siblings are going to have to start making some arrangements. It is good that at least one of you is checking on and helping her every day, but as this progresses, she will not be able to live alone. Someone will have to move in, have her move in with you, hire caregivers or consider AL/MC. I am pleased to see that you all three are working together to help mom!! THAT is a huge blessing for you!!!
In dementia, behaviors often revert to childlike ones; perhaps there's a common element with imaginative dreams.
You must tell her doctor if you decide to try this, but be prepared for some impatient huffing and pooh-poohing from him, smile sweetly and say "nevertheless..." Many doctors won't hear a word against statins and dismiss all complaints out of hand.
See All Answers