My aunt (single, childless, lives alone) acknowledged she was having memory issues and has been seen by the local geriatric/memory care practice. Initially she was also depressed so they opted to treat depression first, but memory is declining. However, she is VERY defensive about her memory problems and refuses to talk about it or acknowledge that she doesn't remember. She insists on being involved in all discussions regarding caregivers, doctors' appointments etc., but then forgets the discussion a day later and insists it didn't happen. The Visiting Nurse and home PT both have said she can't be left alone, her memory is that bad. Does anyone have suggestions for defusing her combative stance? Still working on getting a POA signed. (Also super defensive if you suggests she needs a shower).

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Thanks all. I know better, especially after dealing with my father, but I had not expected that my aunt was quite as far along as she apparently is in her journey. If you are just chatting with her, she can carry a conversation quite well, but it's all the bits of living in the present (when to take meds, shower, remember appointments and recent conversations) that elude her, and that frankly (and understandably so) frighten her.
First diagnosis was about 8 months ago, and a recent hospitalization and stint in rehab seems to have accelerated things a bit. And not taking the depression meds for a few days after returning from rehab also probably did not help. She is back on the meds and already seems improved mood wise.
We are taking care of POA and medical directives on Friday (we've already spoken with a lawyer and have drafts--will finalize them on Friday); have filed a long term health insurance claim and are talking with an agency about scheduling 24 hr care. Thank you for the opportunity to vent and the reminder about the importance of patience and placing myself in her shoes.
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Did the geriatrician give any diagnosis besides depression? How long ago was this? Is the depression treatment helping with that problem? What was the plan for addressing the memory issue? Is she to go back after a few months, or what?

It sounds like if you are going to be in charge of her care (is that the plan?) you will do well to learn about dementia behaviors and how to deal with them. With dementia, things don't get better.

In picking your battles, I think getting medical and financial POAs and a healthcare directive in place is more important than getting Auntie to take a shower (in the short run, anyway).
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Funny, that. Personally I simply adore it when people correct my recollection of events and tell me I shouldn't be allowed out alone...

I'm sorry, Weary, I do really understand that this is no laughing matter.

For the bigger picture, patience.

For the practical details, patience + trial and error with solutions that work for aunt. E.g., her involvement in making arrangements: what about getting her an organiser-type wall calendar and writing down the key details? Separate slips of paper get lost, conversations get forgotten; but if there is ONE single point of reference that she can look to she may find that a useful prop.

How long ago did she have her baseline assessment? I'm just wondering how much time she's had to adjust to a different-shaped future from the one I expect she was hoping for.

Single, childless and living alone: the options available for memory care pretty much all involve having a lot more people around for a lot more of the time, and you can see why somebody who's never experienced much intrusion into her personal life would find it an unwelcome change.

I should be incredibly selective about which battles to pick. With the shower issue, for example, let somebody else make the personal remarks! It's good that there are already professionals engaging with her, so you can be the sympathetic ear and advocate.
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When someone with dementia is corrected or contradicted because they've forgotten something it's not unusual for the person to become agitated. Since your aunt wants to be involved in her own care which is her right, anticipate her not remembering a day later. Involve her in the discussion, get her point of view and input but if a follow-up conversation is necessary it's OK to leave her out of that one because that's kinder than reminding her over and over what was discussed the day before while she becomes upset and agitated. In other words, include her when you can but avoid situations when she is needing to be reminded what was previously said.

Going forward, avoid situations where she is faced with her memory loss. There's no reason to say, "Remember Auntie? We talked about this yesterday and you said....." Or if she insists the sky is green you reply with, "You're right, Auntie. What shade of green is that? Emerald?" Keep her calm and avoid contradicting her.
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