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My mother seems to treat me and my husband mean but can change her mood when someone else comes to our home. She does this around doctors and social workers who check her. They are not getting the true picture and I am afraid she may be on the wrong medicine Can someone with dementia turn it on and off like this?

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Unfortunately, this is common. Many of us have had elders who become super charming around professionals, and even friends. They put on an act that gets them through the visit.
Around you, you mother probably feels "safe" to act how she feels, which is likely frightened and confused. Of course, when her dementia worsens, it will be harder for her to "act." But she wants to appear all right to these people, which just frustrates the whole business. All I can say is that you aren't alone. Try to explain to the doctor and social workers that she does this- you may need to write them a letter. It's likely they've witnessed this behavior before. Good luck. As I said, many of us have been in your situation - my mother was "just fine" whenever a medical person or an old friend showed up. As soon as they were gone, she's be exhausted and back to her impaired behavior.
Carol
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Many people with early or moderate dementia can do "show time" and muster up enough energy and willpower to seem fine to doctors and visitors. This takes a huge effort and they are often exhausted afterward and may revert to being particularly cranky. As Carol says, eventually the dementia progresses to the point where showtime just isn't possible anymore. In a way you can be happy that your mother can still pull it off. It means that she still has some control over her mind and her behavior. Carol is also right that you need to report the reality of day-to-day functioning to the medical professionals, by email or mail or phone, without mother present.

I know a man with early-onset dementia whose wife did not believe he was truly sick because he could turn it on or off at will. I understand her frustration, but that attitude made an extremely challenging situation impossible. Please understand that the fact your mother can hold it together for short periods of time does not mean she is faking it the rest of the time.
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Oh yes, this is my Dad too. Mr. Cranky, then suddenly charming around someone else. I get confused as to who he really likes or dislikes!
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We all ware a mask- with or without dementia. We react differently depending on who we are around. Remember the old Jello commercial with Bill Cosby- treat your family like guests......well, for a person with dementia anyone that they don't know they will impress and then their social mask comes off.
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All of the previous comments are true. I didn't realize what a good actor my husband is until he was diagnosed with ALZ. He so desperately wants to appear normal to others and be like he was with them in pastimes that he's able muster up whatever it takes to pull it off then it's back to the unreal world of ALZ as soon as they leave. Relatives we hadn't seen in a couple years came to visit recently. Hubby joined in the conversation, walked down memory lane with them, I marveled at how well he talked with them. As they were leaving the driveway and we were smiling and waving goodbye my husband turned to me and said, " who are those people? They seem to know the same people I do.". That's when I knew for sure just how good he was at faking it.
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Very common unfortunately! My mom did NOT have dementia however, she was obnoxious with me, very controlling & demanding (she tried to be, but I wouldn't let it happen) but as soon as a doctor, friend, staff worker or even a stranger walked into the room she was the most pleasant person - actually over accommodating and gracious. This had been going on for years - she died last year at 88 years old. The psychiatrists, doctors, etc. all told me that people her age that have failing health issues do this. Why? Cause they feel they can act obnoxious towards the closest one to them - the caregiver basically, since they feel that person will take it and will always come back to them and be there for them. On the other hand, they feel they MUST be cordial and overly compensate being nice to doctors, staff, friends, etc., because if they don't act that way (and are obnoxious) these people won't come back to them. She knew exactly what she doing, but like I said I didn't fall for it. So in reality they are controlling the caregiver. I just shrugged it off, but I did make it VERY clear to her doctors, staff and her & my friends what she was doing. Many of them also saw the difference in her demeanor when I was present and they couldn't believe the different personality-the one they never see when I'm not present. Last year before I went on a cruise, I took her shopping (which I did weekly) and told her that she needed to make sure she had enough goceries for 2 weeks because I would be away. I found her in the store an hour later with hardly any groceries in her cart. I asked her "mom, why do you have so little in your cart, I won't be able to take you shopping next week" to which she very sarcastically replied "well I'm not going to eat while you're away and I'm telling everyone you're not taking care of me. I wanted to make sure everyone knew what she would say to me, they all knew I was taking excellent care of her, but I wanted it documented - cause I didn't know who she would eventually say this to and I wanted people to vouch for me in the event social services showed up at my door. When she went out with her friends they would tell me what a sweet wonderful person she was, the waitress at one restaurant loved her so much and called her "precious". Then one day I was at house, when her two friends came to visit. The phone rang, she was sitting next to it and I was in the next room. It kept ringing and I said "mom aren't you going to answer it?" She replied "no I WANT YOU to answer it for me". I said "but you're right next to it and besides whoever is calling wants to talk to you". She replied "but I WANT you to answer it - why do you think I had a daughter - to do things for me". So the phone stopped ringing and then she blamed me for not knowing who it was. Needless to say, her friends were in shock as they never saw this controlling, demanding attitude in her. I was glad I had witnesses. The doctors all said she knew exactly what she was doing. In your case, I would definitely make sure that others know what is going on - her doctors, staff and friends, by talking to them alone, writing or e-mailing them. Good luck!
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When dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, I was so happy to finally get a diagnosis and the help we needed, but when mom started to show signs and her moods changed, I started to document her activities, moods, actions and all of the unforeseen antics. When we went to the doctor, social workers, etc., I just brought my documentation with me. It was so easy for the professionals to test because they understood my dilemma. Try it, it worked for me. Vickie
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GOOD AFTERNOON:
I AGREE WITH ALL THAT'S BEEN SAID BUT, I WOULD LIKE TO ADD THAT
MEDICATION CAN ALSO ALTER THE MOODS. MY MOTHER WAS ON A COCKTAIL OF MEDS. I SLOWLY TRANSITIONED HER TO A COCKTAIL OF LITTLE MEDS LOTS OF VITAMINS. SHE IS MUCH CALMER AND MORE PEACEFUL. ONCE IN A WHILE SOMETHING MIGHT SURFACE AND IF I CHECK SHE MIGHT OF MISSED A DOSE OR TWO OF MEDS. SO I WOULD REVIST THE MEDS. SOMETIMES THE SIDE EFFECTS CAN BE WORSE THAN THE MEDS.
GOOD LUCK
DPRAYS
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My mother has passed the point where she cans fake anything, but she will show me her true feelings where she won't with others. While she isn't mean, she sometimes gets very cranky. Who wouldn't when the whole world has become so confusing?
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Agreed and agreed - I must have at least done the right thing when I wrote a letter to mom's doctor and asked him to examine and evaluate her for early alz or dimentia, his opinion was that she was 'just bored'. But, end results are the same, she 'livens up' when she has a visitor, but I tend to think that I after hearing the same stories to me all day about how badly she feels over and over, she likes to have a new audiance. It is not that I lack sympathy, I just cannot sit around with her and listen to her constant complaints all day. Besides, what am I supposed to do, agree with her, say that she is in lousy shape and is going to die soon? That would be really helpful, wouldn't it? She wallows in a bog of self-pity with me, is lively and 'feisty' with others, though I think it is a cover for the fact she does not understand a lot of things and uses a feisty, snappy answer to camoflage that she does not understand. I, on the other hand, require her to give me coherant answers to questions, not a smokescreen to lead me in another direction.
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I am a private caregiver and I see this EVERYDAY. My gal is very emotional with me, but when I get her family involved, she puts on a show that everything is fine. It makes it very difficult to help her through her emotional stages. She tells me how bad her life is, but whenever someone tries to ease her upset, she tells them she is fine then lashes out at me. I've tried talking to her doctor about it and he says "she's depressed". She's on a handful of meds for depression. She has a psychiatrist. He is the ONLY one who seems to understand what is going on.
All of her doctors recommend that she go into an assisted living home. She agrees to their faces then as soon as we make arrangements to visit a place, she comes up with excuses not to go. A year ago, we had everything in place for her to move, and when her family started to take down her bed to move it, she refused to go anywhere! I had to call the assisted living place and get her deposit and first months rent back.
It's nice to know that I am not alone in this. I have talked to numerous "professionals" on this sort of thing, but no one can give me a clear answer. Dementia is so unpredictable and different in each person that no one can "clear" up the answers.
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I'm glad to see a post like this. I'm experiencing similiar changes with my mom. For the past 2 years my mom keeps telling me and others that she hasn't given POA and health care proxy to my sister and doesn't recall how she obtained it.
She also says that my sister doesn't visit her on a regular basis. But her guardian lawyer claims that she was lucid for the most part when he spoke with her for a short period of time and my mom "clearly" stated that she wants my sister to handle all of her affairs and just because I am the oldest doesn't mean that I should be in charge. I don't know if this lawyer spoke to my mother alone or if she was in the presence of others to be influenced by what she did. My mother constantly asks the same questions and states the same statements repeatedly so it's hard for me to understand that she was able to organize her thoughts and convey them to a visitor in a non-confusing way. She has since stated to me that she hasn't spoken to anyone. Previously she wasn't aware of the relationship of a relative to her. She is confused about where she is currently living, the day of the week, day to day things, and decisions. When my mother is asked about a statement that she made, she says that people are telling lies. This disease makes them focus on money and have unfortunate thoughts that someone is taking their money. There needs to be more awareness about this complex disease in the legal system. The changing personalities and moods of elderly with ALZ should be central in verifying the validity of the important papers (POA and Health Care Proxy) to anyone. I'm wondering if my mother is faking it or saying what she thinks she should to both of her daughters.
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WOW can I say it sounds like I wrote this question and got it answered! Same here. Mom with Alz is nice around the doctors etc..... and mean to me and my husband. She was in rehab for 40 days recooping with hip replamcement and I would say to nurses there that mom was cranky etc... and they'd say she was VERY nice to them! They even took her off her meds that helped calm her and still nice to them but when i showed up I got an earful. She's home now and I am thankful for the time I have with her as I know it will all be to soon when she passes in the mean time dealing with her MOOD swings......
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I wonder if it would help doctors, etc., to see the "real" actions if you could video-tape her at her worst (probably have to do it without her knowing).
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