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My mom misplaces things in her house . She gets agitated and blames others when she cant find things. When she eventually finds them, I would say "maybe you put it there and just forgot. She gets very defensive and saids no I did not. This has happened with money, purse, checkbook and keys. For some reason she thinks someone will take them and I think she hides them in all different places and just forgets. Her short term memory is bad. I have to repeat myself many times when giving her instructions on things like what time her appts are and upcoming events as she would just repeat the same question to me. She still drives and has no problem getting places. I live 30 minutes away and she has no problem getting here. She goes shopping, doctors, post office, DMV without getting lost. I want to take her to a Geriatric doctor and dont know how to approach the subject without her getting defensive and agitated. Any suggestions would be very much appreciated

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We all need help with remembering from age1 to 101 - one thing I do [& I notice my sons in 30's do it too without me saying anything] is that I bought a carbineer [a self closing hook] for my keys - now I just hook them on my purse so no searching at bottom of purse

Tell mom you just heard of a great idea - invite her to go with you as you wanting to do it too - go to a hardware store near where they cut keys & there are some there [pre scout them] - they come in many colours so pick your best - fyi I have a black 1 that is a figure 8 so keys on 1 end & attach on other - most purses have something on strap but you could get key rings or other items if needed

I know this is only 1 item she forgets but maybe you can find others - do them yourself when it makes sense for you so that you are doing a 'sharing' activity not that you are imposing this on her - bonus maybe it will simplify your life too - some time over tea tell her how much this is helping you & ask if she likes it to just 'girlfriend to girlfriend' talk

I now leave my purse on linen closet door so it is close to den, living room & I can see it from back door but not front door - pick a similar place in her house then start leaving your purse on it - after a few times state how much easier it is for YOU to always know how to find it no matter where you both sit - let's hope she takes over 'your' spot - good luck
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Make sure they check for UTI as it can cause dementia affects.. i also read a comment from a person w alz writings that when we think he is hiding things he said i am putting them where i think they belong. EYE OPENER so this told not to blame them.
My spouse started like your moms. I read lots about alz. You are then prepared for next phase & wont devestate you. First of all & most important get legal papers done NOW. DPOA is most important. A support group can be a help & alz has a help line free. Alz reading room is good. Book 36 hr day, good & google Understanding Demetia, excellent & google Teepa Snow & free videos to watch, excellent. My husband 8 ys ago started & very easy to handle. I found you always agree w them & it does not frustrate them. We live in a changing world & they do not, dont try to chg them. We must chg. They do not relearn as the desease wont allow it & frustrats them if we try. We stay happy & they also. God give you the patience you'll need.
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Thank you all for your comments. I have read everyone and they were very helpful. I have already talked to her doctor about my concerns and she has an appt next week.
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This is to be expected of a patient with Alzheimer's, your mother.
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How old is your mom?
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Oh, and I had a hired caregiver come in a couple hours a day to help mom out around the house in the early stages of dementia. Light cleaning, medications put out, driving mom anywhere she wanted to go. Well, this nice lady called me and said, 'I am horrified to tell you, I came over to help your mom with a hair wash and set this morning, and your mom and car were gone. I was just going to call you when she pulled up in the driveway and asked me to help her carry in groceries - she bought 4 dozen ears of corn! At a farmstand 30 miles out in the country. Oh, and the bumper of her car is hanging loose.' Well, I was pretty horrified myself to hear about this. 'Blood runs cold' is a real thing!
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Your mom seems to be driving well now, but that won't continue. MY mom kept driving long after she should have stopped, because we thought she was only driving to church a mile away or down to the Dollar Store 2 blocks away. Well, she was: driving to church in the middle of the night for the service and puzzled to find it dark, and doors locked. The trips to the Dollar Store turned into trips to the Dollar Store DOWNTOWN. DOWNTOWN!!! where I would never venture because, traffic and no place to park. I know it was downtown because the receipt mentioned the store (and I had no idea where she could possibly have parked, but it was probably the first open space she spotted, no matter what any signs said! parked askew and left the car to walk around...) then the trips 'getting lost', the trips driving at night with sunglasses on! It was horrific.
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I had many warning signs with Mom. Getting into fender benders when she had a lifetime of good driving skills, her calling me crying that she forgot where she parked her car, a friend of mine that worked with her as a nurse called me to tell me her job performance was getting bad, etc. As I sat in on the report of one of her fender benders and she could not tell the story the same way twice, her agent gave me "the look" of I don't think she should be driving anymore. Deep down, she knew something was changing in her. I suggested she go get a test done just to see where she was mentally and she failed miserably. So, her doctor called and told me she had "dementia" that lovely generic term. I had to have a long talk with Mom and appealed to her safety as well as the safety of others with being a nurse, driving, and added that at this later part of her life, she could have the wrong person sue her for malpractice, getting into a car accident and it being more serious than a fender bender. I also told her I would never forgive myself for not protecting her when all the warning signs were there and how much I loved her. I helped her get her finances in order and finally convinced her she needed to retire and could afford to do so. I wanted her to end her life long career on her own terms instead of them coming to her and telling her she had to go (which was coming) and that would have crushed her. It was not an easy thing to do and I felt like the bad guy taking away her freedoms but it had to be done. Always let them know you are doing this because you love them and want them to be safe. A good way to apppeal to my Mom was asking her what she would do if it was her Mom having these problems, she admitted she would do the same. She now lives with me and is safe and content. Of course she still laments on having her freedom to drive wherever she wants but she knows she is not safe. I am the chauffeur now.
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Your situation seems exactly like mine a few years ago. The problem with dementia - its a progressive disease and your mom is going to get worse. Best to get things in order now. I had to trick my mom into getting and evaluation. We went to the local hospital that had a geriatric assessment center. I told her we were meeting a friend of mine who was a nurse. She was angry at first, but then we went to lunch afterwards, had fun and she forgot about it.

I hope you have POA - you really will not be able to help your mother without it. This process is very overwhelming. I would also recommend joining a local support group - you will get much needed advice and guidance there.
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I had some very similar situations as you. There was no way I could talk to the doctor in front of my mom. I would call the doctor prior and talk to the nurse. Usually I would send, via fax, what the issues were and state the change in behavior and frequency of them to the doctor with " confidential". The doctor was able to read it prior to the visit and would ask question relating to some of the issues during the visit but not fronting me off. At this stage, parents are very confrontational. They are trying to hold on to their bearings but it's slipping away. They don't mean to say or do what they are doing/ saying but it's tough. The "I'll help you look" or the "You seem tired, I'll come back when you're feeling better. I love you" Then leave. This is for really mean or accusatory moments.
Keep a journal and send to her doctor (current or new) prior to her visits).
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Castle, excellent insight. Add to your observations the fact that life becomes more complicated in a post-industrial, information based society, and focus of importance of issues changes as we age.

JaxxJill, your post contained 2 comments which made me wonder if a different approach style might be helpful:

"When she eventually finds them, I would say 'maybe you put it there and just forgot' ." That's the LAST thing that should be said to someone who's already frustrated with inability to locate things. Instead of using "you", make the comment impersonal. Assessing blame and making her more uncomfortable only aggravates the situation. (I do understand that you're frustrated too).

"I have to repeat myself many times when giving her instructions..." You give her "instructions"? Bluntly, I find this somewhat arrogant. Do you realize how condescending and authoritarian this sounds? You're not her teacher, a police officer or other person in authority.

You're putting her on the defensive with statements that attribute the fault to her. How would you feel if someone spoke like this to you, or said something to the effect that your attitude is aggravating the situation. Wouldn't you feel defensive and become angry?

I think it's also telling that it seems these issues arise in the house, not in driving and locating places. There's much to be said for her ability to navigate outside, where it can also become confusing for someone with memory problems.

Depersonalize your comments. Offer to help her find lost items and work with her instead of being critical of her. Work with her and not against her. And don't even think about forcing her to a doctor until you've tried a different, more conciliatory approach.

I suspect you'll consider this an impudent and not helpful response. That's obviously your choice. But I see another solution, based on attitude and interpersonal interactions. I hope you're willing to consider it.
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Sunnygirl had some very good advice. I would say for the family to keep an eye on things. Going to the doctor to see if there was a treatable reason for the memory lapses would be a good thing. It may be useful to the family to understand that she has dementia, but at the present time there is no way to cure the most common forms of dementia -- Alzheimer's, vascular, Lewy body. Treatments are presently aimed at symptom control. This can sometimes be meaningful, but often times not. Dementia is something people take day by day right now.

I realized my mother had dementia several years before she was diagnosed. After the diagnosis nothing changed. I still knew that she had dementia, but she has never accepted it. Even the brothers didn't accept it until they started seeing the signs for themselves. She was very good at showtiming for them until it got very bad.

It did help me for the doctor to diagnose "significant cognitive impairment." It was like someone finally said that they saw what I had been seeing for years. It wasn't me being crazy.
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Let her primary care physician know. There are other causes of forgetfulness and she should have a full work-up to determine if she is suffering from something else. If she's not, the PCP will be the one to refer her to a geriatrician.

Please be aware, however, that she just "might not want to know" what she suspects the geriatrician will say, and frankly, that's her right.

As an aside, the PCP will make the determination if perhaps the best doctor to see your mom is a neurologist, as opposed to a geriatrician. In our journey, I found geriatricians useless, just an extra step, a PCP for old people, who would then have to make an appropriate referral.

If she chooses to go to a neurologist, there are meds that help with memory (such as Namenda, which helped my mom dramatically). You should let her know that and it may help her see the benefit of going.

Whatever happens, remember that this is very scary for your mother and she's going to need your support. Try not to say things like "I've already told you 5 times," "you're forgetful," etc. That just makes things worse and makes the forgetful person feel like you're their enemy as opposed to their ally and she needs an ally right now.

In the beginning, ginko biloba helped my mom A LOT, as well as natural supplements (the good ones, not the cheap ones from GNC). There is help for her. If she's too afraid to explore these things, you should do so without her. (Lemon water also help clear the mind for some reason.) What I'm saying is there are options.

As another aside, your mom does not have dementia. Dementia is defined as being "activities of daily living disabled." Alzheimer's is a type of dementia, but not the only type. Activities of daily living are eating, bathing, dressing, transferring, and toileting. If she needs help with two of those, she has dementia. She may have "age related memory loss" or "mild cognitive impairment" and that may (or may not) progress, but right now she does not have dementia. Get all the information you can, ask lots of questions, see what resources are available. Our neurologist gave us a list of 10 web sites like Luminosity that help improve memory. I want you to feel hope. There IS help out there and the people on this forum are also here to help 24/7.

Good luck, and keep us posted.
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JaxxJill43 It would be better if You did not challenge Your Mom when She misplaces or can not find things, and of course it is very frustrating for Your Mom.
Tailspin is correct, call to Your Mom's Doctor and explain the circumstances as they are with Your Mom, and the Dr will make an appointment for Your Mom to be examined by a Geriatrition.
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Hey - well - losing things much more often is very normal, as one ages, and not because one's mind is going, but because one's life priorities are changing, and our physical surroundings must be simplified and set up to facilitate our priorities. Earlier generations did not know this, so too many homes are left set up in order to facilitate socialization and aesthetics - when the new priorities may be to accomplish fewer tasks, of one's own choosing, with fewer people at one time. SO - hang a hook right by the entry door, to hang keys right there. When I studied home organizing - and also how to help those with brain injury - functional simplicity of organizing made all the difference to competence retention. They had labels stuck on drawers (silverware, utensils, pots, etc).

How much has your mom's home been adapted to her decreasing physical abilities? It's possible to do simplifying and adaptation, one bit at a time, and in keeping with aesthetics, not just adding medical looking adaptations.

When my disabled brother kept losing his key identifications, I found a lime green plastic container for them, that could be visibly seen if those were left out anywhere, and I got him a special file, with clear labels on outside drawers - with labels now for functional separations - not just paperwork. Whatever gets lost repeatedly, can be given a place and system so that it doesn't happen. Organizing for function is a gift, and functions change as we age. I figure we elders forget more, when our choices feel confused, as we try to act as we did, but our strength is less, hearing, eyesight..... with organization help, and also help with upkeep, we can do the simpler activities that feel better at this stage. .
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JaxxJill, my mom is still in denial, even though she's received a diagnosis of dementia. She says she think's her doctor think's she has some 'mental condition'... still in denial, even tho she's tried Aricept and Namenda (both had very bad side effects for her)...and can't remember what they're for! Like your mom, she still drives and doesn't get lost, but her short-term memory is terrible much of the time. The suggestions here are good. My mom's neighbors and other community members call and let me know if she's doing something unusual (like calling over and over to confirm a social engagement). She had a caregiver during the day for a while after a hospitalization, and she said that sometimes you have to give them space, until they start endangering themselves by burning food, getting lost... Bless you. There are too many days of being on pins and needles, but legally, until they are diagnosed as incompetent, there isn't a lot you can do. Do make sure she has her legal documents in order!
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I might keep a close watch on how things are going to see if her issues progress. I might also share your observations and concerns with her doctor. You can send him a memo about it prior to her next visit. He doesn't have to give you info, but he can accept info from you. He needs to know this, even if he thinks it's too early to order further tests.

I would also make sure that your mom has her Durable Power of Attorney, Healthcare POA, Living Will, etc.in order. I'd keep the original, since she may lose it now that her memory is failing. You can just say that someone you know needed these documents and it was a huge problem when they didn't have them.

Does your mom have any condition that you could use to get her to the doctor? Say, does she need to have blood work done, check on her stiff knee, get flu shot, etc. You might offer to go with her and have lunch afterwards. I don't see how telling her about her concern of her memory is helpful. She's not going to agree and that would make her more resistant. Often people with cognitive decline are not convinced they have it. And she may never accept it.

I might start thinking about long range plans for her care, if it turns out to be cognitive decline. Some people progress slowly and others rather fast. With my cousin's Vascular Dementia, she needed Assisted Living within just a few month of living alone. I'd explore options or if she would be living with a family member. Has she ever told you want her wishes or plans are if she needs around the clock care?

Is there any way you can monitor her finances to ensure that her bills are being paid? And, if you know her neighbors, you might chat with them in private to see if they mention anything about her. Sometimes, we may not see things that others do.
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Does she see her primary care physician at least once per year? If she does - or if she does not and you can get her to go - you could offer to accompany her to the visit. You could also write down your concerns and send them to the doctor ahead of time. Unless your mom has signed the appropriate paperwork, the doctor is not allowed to discuss her situation with you privately. If the doctor agreed there was perhaps an issue to be explored, he/she could refer your mom to someone who specializes in issues of aging (Geriatrician) or perhaps someone in the field of neurology.

Having this conversation directly with a parent is not usually a fun experience. No one wants to think their mind is slipping. We do a lot to convince ourselves that we are fine and that something or someone else is to blame. Of course that is common for many of us throughout our lives so why would it be different when it comes to something as important as whether or not our brains may be dying? It is common for the parent to feel attacked, for them to get defensive and for them to make accusations. It is better if you can remain calm even if they escalate. Sometimes it takes having a number of these conversations for a few months before they will agree to go to the doctor. Sometimes the person resists for a longer period of time. And sometimes you have to wait until there is significant decline in the person and they are at a different place mentally before they will agree to see someone.
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Do you go with her to her regular doctor appointments? Have you mentioned her forgetfulness, mild paranoia and agitation to her doctor?

You might consider going with her to an appointment and bringing up these issues. The doctor, especially if he or she is prepped on these issues beforehand, may well recommend a visit to a neurologist or neurocognitive specialist for evaluation.
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Call and speak with the doctor first explain the symptoms as you see them and if is what you and the doctor suspect then go from there
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JaxxJill, one idea for finding things misplaced in the house is when one, let's say puts down their car keys, is to say out loud "I am putting the car keys on the kitchen table". For some reason that helps jog the memory. Whether it would help your Mom in her stage of dementia would be interesting to try out.

For reminders of appointments, I found using a large calendar hanging in the kitchen was very helpful. Only problem I found with my Dad was that he would forget what day it was... so I bought him a "day clock" that only has one hand and it points to today's day. He found that very helpful.
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