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Legally blind, my mother, who has heard my voice over the past 54 years, like any other parent, can't recognize me by my voice. It hurt when she overheard me talking with relatives for a few minutes and asked me smiling and friendly, "And you are?" The relatives attributed it to the vision impairment. I would be able to recognize my close family members voices by phone without them identifying themselves. Who is in denial? Any reality checks for me out there, please. The families denial is frustrating. I wish there was compassion when I expressed my dismay with them privately. It's hard to have my mother ask who I am. My sister her POA will not answer my voice mail when I asked if my mother has been diagnosed with A or D.

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My mother in a NH with dementia is often confused. My sister lives nearby and visits often while I am out of state. When I go there I stay with her all day every day. She mixes us up all the time and sometimes does not even recognize either of us. Sad but true. When I great her I always, rub her shoulder and say, Hi , how is my beautiful mother today? A greeting my sister does not use. I think it helps somewhat and if she is still confused I will tell her my name and that I loved her so much I came from far away to visit. Usually that is enough to at least spark some recognition. I have seen her so confused that she does not remember my father to whom she has been married for 64 years! She does not remember the grandchildren at all. Sorry to say it is part of the process and try not to take it personally. Really it is all about her and what she CAN do to be social , even if you feel hurt. Your sister is another story. Is she withholding all information? Do you otherwise get on well with her? If she is in denial is your mother getting the medical care she needs??
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Yes, as the previous posts suggest there are several strands here to tease apart. One is, you yourself don't actually know that her not recognizing your voice is dementia -- as others have suggested, there may be a distortion in her hearing. Another is, family being in denial about possible dementia may be an issue; but it's separate from you getting sympathy for the experience of not being recognized by your mother. That hurts all of us, especially the first couple of times -- IF it IS a sign of something that won't get better, it crosses a line into a new territory. Bottom line, let's all keep two separate topics separate and give each one of them the respect they deserve: One is what's going on with the PARENT, what they need, etc etc; the other is what's going on with US, what WE need etc etc. We all need a sympathetic ear. A basic human lesson is, if you need that and the particular person you want it from is too conflicted to give it, get it somewhere else.
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Maybe several voices at once confused her if she can't hear as well as she used to? Just a thought.
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oops .. what I meant to say is that she recently started to NOT know my voice on the phone due tot he dementia
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My mother has dementia and serious hearing loss for years (won't wear hearing aids). Nevertheless, she always knew my voice on the phone even though all my sisters and I sound similar. She has also started to confuse me in person. We have noticed she seems better on the phone and it takes being in person with her to really realize how confused she is - so she may be worse off than you think. However, since you family is resistant, perhaps you could suggest that story of the person above as a reason to get a full medical??? Maybe just getting her into a doctor is the first step and, if others are in denial, it might take another "excuse" to see the doctor (and maybe it is a hearing issue). In our family, I am the local one and saw red flags waaaay early, but my sisters were in denial and consequently missed valuable time with a more fully functioning mom. My conscience is clear about how many times I tried to tell them. In the worst case, you can call adult protective services in your mom's state, but expect your family to get really mad.
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About 15 years ago I had a sudden change in my hearing. Turns out it was due to a build up of fluids in my inner ear, most likely due to a convergence (more like a "perfect storm" of severe stress, air travel, excess salt intake, and allergies. I had just graduated from with my master's degree to be a speech pathologist, which had been a very program during which I experienced severe chronic stress up to the very day I graduated, the next day I flew to a friends two states away for a week to celebrate, and while there did not much more than eat tons of junk food, especially lots of salty chips one particular day while we binge watched videos because she had morning sickness and could not do much. Halfway through that week everything began to sound very strange and warped, like a combination of some kind of mechanical voice and when you hit a pan that has water in it. I had a lot of trouble with speech comprehension and even did not recognize my mom's voice on the phone when she called! When I got home I saw an audiologist and ENT and was diagnosed with moderate hearing loss in my left ear due to cochlear hydrops (fluid buildup in the inner ear). Saw an audiologist / allergist who diagnosed me with allergies to a number of environmental triggers, and several foods that are in almost EVERY processed food. Was prescribed steroids for a short time and allergy shots and a super strict allergy diet for a couple months to get all that stuff out of my system, and eventually my hearing was almost completely restored, to within the normal range.

All this to say, hearing can change suddenly, and even just a "moderate" loss can dramatically effect speech comprehension and recognition. Also, hearing loss can look like dementia as a result, and/or complicate and add to the burden of dementia. I agree she should have her hearing evaluated!
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Dementia can rob a person of many things, including the ability to recognize someone very close. We normally just think of the person who can no longer recognize a family member or long-time friend through facial recognition. But dementia affects the other senses as well. So it's not surprising that your Mom might not recognize your voice. I've personally had people call me out of the blue, when I'm least expecting it, and ask me something without identifying themselves, and I've been stumped until they say something further to clue me in! So I can only imagine what it might be like for the dementia sufferer. Their brains cannot interpret everything as they did prior to the disease; sight, hearing (including voice recognition), taste, smell...everything changes or goes away.

There's an interesting article at this address - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3170540/ - (don't know how the address will appear as I'm not sure how to add a URL other than copy and paste!) about voice processing in dementia. It's pretty difficult reading for us laypersons, but I think it might answer some of your questions.

As for your relatives being unable or unwilling to admit that your Mom might (or does) have dementia - this is very sad but not uncommon. Usually its the people who don't live near the person anymore who notice the problem first. Do you see your mother on a regular basis? If you don't, you will probably notice her problems and admit to them quicker than those who see her on a daily or weekly basis. I wish your sister was more forthcoming with you. After all, this person you care about is mother to BOTH of you. She should be willing to answer your questions. Has the fact that she is POA made her more distant with others in the family or given her the idea that she is somehow in authority over the other family members? If so, this is sad.
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Voice recognition requires about five steps to process in the brain before one can "recognize" who is speaking. Since your sister is being evasive, just keep talking to your mother as if she did recognize you and do not take her behaviors personally. When I write my husband a note on the refrigerator, I put "Your Wife" because at some point in time he will no longer recognize himself in the mirror or me (and my voice). Read about more symptoms from the Alzheimer's organization (alz.org), and just love your mother for the time she has remaining. Best wishes.
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Where is your mom living, NH, ALF, LTCF ? Or is she living with your sister?
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Remember that dementia and the resultant behavior is not the person's fault. She is not doing things to irritate or anger you. Her behavior is a result of the deterioration of her mental condition and not a premeditated act.
Most elderly have accepted their mortality and know they are going to die of something. However, older adults do not fear death as much as they fear dementia, losing control over their lives and being placed in a nursing home.
The best way to care for an elderly person with dementia is with kindness and compassion. Face each day with humor and understanding. Treat the person as a welcome and positive aspect of your life, not a burden. Most important, take care of yourself so you can take care of her.
I feel your pain as I dealt with it as well with my mother. One day my sister,my cousin and myself went to visit, after a little time had passed I noticed that my mother was looking at me in a very confused way. Not sure what was taking place I finally spoke in to response to something that was taking place at the time. My mother pipes up and says "oh Bon I was trying to figure out who you were" it was my voice that she recognized not the physical me. While it was very confusing at the time for me I did feel a bit of relief that she was no longer confused of me. We spent the day all together with her studying my every move. My mother was full blown Alz. All I can say is don't let this be a crutch as it will get worse in time, so prepare yourself. One day she will recognize you another day she won't. I hope this kind of helps you. Take care and best wishes.
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Hi willowrose,
I read your profile and , sheesh, I just don't know how to help you. I believe you that your Mom may have dementia , of course, I do not know this for a fact and not recognizing your voice could be a hearing issue -has she had her hearing checked? But on your profile you said she has some of the classic paranoia symptoms and such for AD.

I did read about how you were trying to step back from being so involved in the family drama-no? Do you think you need to re-evaluate if you should be so concerned with getting your family to admit there is a problem? I am just asking-I am not saying you should -just throwing that out there.
I wonder if your family does indeed know your Mom has dementia but just is not as open about it. I wear my emotions on my sleeve. Sheesh-I will tell the bus boy my life story if he wants to hear it but a lot of people are closed off and just do not like to talk about things. Like my sister. We butted heads for so long because she kept things bottled up and I am a tornado of emotion. Same parents-different personalities for sure!

I am sorry your Mom did not recognize your voice. It is sad. My Mom is just now forgetting things and each time it breaks my heart--because it just means her dementia is getting worse and that is just so sad. My Dad is in denial a lot of the time but what can I do? I just try and be there for him when he needs me. Sometimes it is just best to say -" if you ever want to talk about Mom I am here to listen" and leave the ball in their court.

Best of luck and many blessings to you!
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