Could this be brain damage, or is this dementia sounding?

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Hi, My 87 year old mother in law fell back in April and was admitted to rehab. The rehab facility released her and said she can no longer live alone. So, she's now living with me and my husband. She's been here for about a month. My husband is an only child and so the responsibility falls squarely on our shoulders.

I've known my husband and her since 1995. I've always had a cordial relationship with her. However, she's acting strange lately. Her diagnosis is "mild cognitive impairment." I asked my husband to confirm that she has a dementia diagnosis and he said, "I assume so."

Lately, she does nothing. She'll get up when the physical therapist comes in and do the exercises he gives her. He told her she needs to get up and walk every hour, but we can't get her to do it. She won't go anywhere with us although we offer to take her. And, some mornings, she completely ignores me. Like, she'll say nothing. I'll bring her food and try to talk to her, but she doesn't say anything. Some days she does talk.

My husband says I'm taking it personally and maybe I am, but it's just so different than how I'm used to her being. She did hit her head when she fell. Could this be brain damage? Or is this dementia sounding? I'm so confused. I'm only 43 so I don't have a lot of experience with this. My Father in Law passed away at 93 5 years ago and he had dementia but we didn't see him all day, every day. We just saw him occasionally.

Thank you for any insight anyone can provide!

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MCI often turns out to be the earliest stage of dementia, but sometimes it does not progress and remains at the mild impairment level.

Dementia involves brain damage that has been building up for years. Where the damage is located and the nature of damage determines the symptoms and what the dementia is called. (Alzheimer's, Vascular, Lewy Body, etc.)

The fall may have done some damage of its own, or, if damage has been building up, it may have triggered the symptoms associated with that buildup.

In any case, it sounds like some kind of brain damage to me. And she may also be depressed, the two are not mutually exclusive. Taking her to a geriatric psychiatrist is a good approach.

I'll join your husband in saying don't take this personally. It really is not about you. It is something going on within your MIL.

Come back and let us know how things are going. We care.
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simpleunderdog, a serious fall especially if Mom had hit her head can change a person's memory... and with each new fall, more damage can happen.

That happened to my Mom, she had a major fall at home, and it turned out Mom had a brain bleed. But Mom seemed herself so the hospital had her go home but she needed to have caregivers. Not in a million years would my Mom accept any strangers in the house. Oh well, Mom was still sharp for being in her late 90's.

A couple weeks later, another serious fall, again head trauma. Another brain bleed. But this time Mom accelerated quickly into late stage Dementia. She was moved to long-term-care.

So with your Mom, it could be a combo of dementia that had moved quickly to a new Stage due to any type of head trauma, and possible brain damage. When you think about it, dementia is pretty much brain damage within itself.
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Um. If it were me I would go back to her doctor - with her permission of course, you won't get anywhere without it but it's only good manners anyway - and ask for a clear, accurate situation report.

The really key point to drive home to her doctor is that This Is Not The Lady you have personally known for over 20 years, clearly all is not well, and if he doesn't have a well-reasoned idea of what's going on then it's about time he stirred his stumps and found out.
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Thank you for the replies. My husband goes with her to her doctor appointments...or my husband and I both go. No, she has not seen a geriatric psychiatrist. I keep telling my husband I think she's depressed and he is saying he doesn't think so and thinks it's more related to having a hard time moving.

We tried to investigate the reasons for the fall, but we really don't know. She was home alone when it happened. She was capable of living by herself before it happened. A neighbor found her (thankfully) and called 911.

Yeah, probably a good idea to get her seen by a geriatric psychiatrist and mention this to her doctor. She has another appointment coming up.

Thanks again.
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First guess is the changes in her behaviour are related to the reasons for the fall. Did anyone say or investigate what they were?
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MCI and dementia are not the same thing. Who goes with her to doctor appointments?

Who is following her condition? Has she seen a geriatric psychiatrist? Has anyone mentioned her apathy to her doctor?
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