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For the past year, Mom’s been exhibiting signs of dementia. I was extremely concerned. I pushed and pushed for my father to take her to a doctor. After months of pushing and offering my help, he took her. She has since seen two neurologists, done several brain scans, had blood drawn, and taken the MOCA test. Both neurologist have recommended a psychologist. She has “good” days where she’s perfectly normal, but most days she repeats herself and (I feel pretends) to forget grandchild's name, won’t cook, won’t clean, and does mannerisms someone would expect of an Alzheimer’s person.


My gut tells me she’s faking. It’s so incredibly infuriating. Are the neurologists saying, without actually saying, that she’s faking it? Am I crazy? Should I treat this as an actual disease in case something is really wrong?


Ps. She’s always exhibited “needy” tendencies and issues with control. This only exacerbates my suspicions.

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I don't think she is faking.Your mom may be very depressed and have pseudodementia.A psychiatrist can get her out of that.She mave a dementia variant called Lewy Body - this sadly has early onset, and fast decline..I was a Psychiatric Crisis RN for 30 years on medical floors and in ER's. I hope you find out- I worked with psychiatrists sometimes who were baffled by patients.Severe depression can mimic dementia.God bless.
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Who went to the neurologists with her? Just your dad? I would think if her test results were that alarming they'd exhaust all possibilities with other specialists that the cause is biological before coming to the conclusion that it's psychological. If she's not faking it and people stop pursuing answers because they think she is, that would be incredibly cruel. So yes, I'd treat this as an actual physical problem before assuming the worst from her. That's how you'd want your family to treat you, right? Good luck...let us know if you find out anything new.
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We thought my mom was just being difficult and manipulative when her dementia hit because we weren't expecting this at all. It was the last thing I would have ever expected we would have to deal with. Not even on my radar. Don't be quick to jump to conclusions she is faking it. Follow what the doctor is recommending and see it through. That may be the only way you get actual answers.
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I would get her to a psychiatrist to look for answers. And verify what the neurologist said (my parents were not very good at reporting what the doctors ACTUALLY said) preferring to interpret facial expressions and the like.

I discovered, after my mom stopped driving and I started taking her to doc appointments that my notes on what the doc had said were not what my mom "heard".
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Funny about dementia and Alzheimer's. It always appears that they are just faking it. Have her check for a urinary tract infection. Believe it or not a UTI will give symptoms of Alzheimer's /dementia. If she is determined to have a UTI once it clears up she would go back to normal. However, it's just hard to believe that something like that could happen. Don't be fooled they usually are in distress. Take one day at a time. Be kind and love her.
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Dear Anon, I relate to what you're saying. "She's always exhibited 'needy' tendencies and issues with control." "My gut tells me she's faking."

I'm 59, and my mom is 78. My mother is incredibly intelligent and has been diagnosed with major depression since the 1960's. I've spent a lifetime trying to figure out how much of her behavior is organic/physical versus just plain sociopathic/diabolical.

Don't waste any more years trying to figure her out. It's a no-win situation, since there's obviously something wrong with any person who would fake such symptoms. Munchhausen Disorder comes to mind; narcissistic personality disorder; borderline personality disorder, and just plain self-centeredness.

It's possible our mothers have a little sprinkling of all of the above, including memory loss. And yes, when a person with these mental issues actually has a little age-appropriate memory loss, they might exaggerate and use it to their advantage to get attention. In my case, I think mom has a little memory loss, and true to form, is milking it for all it's worth. I sense yours might be the same.

I am a big fan of Nancy Levin's book Setting Boundaries will Set You Free, and, although it may be unpopular to post on this forum, the book Divorcing a Parent by Beverly Engel. The second book doesn't mean you actually have to end your relationship with a parent, but the emotional gaslighting can be permanently stopped.

In my case, the quest to find out whether she was faking or not was exhausting and there was no relief at the end of that road. It sounds like you are doing right by her, that she has been tested and checked out. Please make sure to take care of yourself, even if your decision is unpopular with others. Nobody has walked a mile in your shoes on this one. All of our situations with our parents are unique. I support you 100% and say ALWAYS trust your intuition.
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“I have actual Alzheimer’s patients who perform better on this test at 85”

What??? That is no diagnosis, that is a brush off. Somebody needs to ask - what does that mean? If they feel she is faking then they need to say that too, no hedging! Why a psychologist? If mental illness was suspected then surely a psychiatrist would be more appropriate?

If she's failing cognitive tests then there is a reason for it and it needs to be addressed for her sake as well as yours, then a plan needs to be made that doesn't include you becoming her caregiver for the foreseeable future.
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Before I would go down the road of the notion that she is faking it, I would be asking if any other conditions could present this way. Maybe it's not dementia. Maybe it is a B-12 deficiency, lyme disease, a problem with alcohol abuse or a new medication causing negative side effects. Your mom needs a whole body work-up and some diligent investigation to identify what is wrong before she is told "It's all in her head."
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I think you have to be a strong advocate for her at this point. Something is off, whether she is faking or not hasn’t been determined.

My oldest brother (now deceased) was involved in a horrific motorcycle accident. He should have died. I was the only relative present at the hospital immediately following the accident. His death was unrelated to the accident.

I knew how serious the injuries were because the doctor told me everything in detail, including that he nearly died during surgery. He also told me how the accident would effect his future health.

In spite of many obstacles in my brother’s life, he was tough but he still had many complications from the accident. My younger brother always accused him of faking his issues. I told my younger brother that he was fortunate to have a few good days and that it may appear that he is faking but that I absolutely knew that he wasn’t because I spoke directly to his doctor.

I took care of him after the accident. His bike was totaled so he needed transportation to and from his doctors.

He asked me to accompany him during his doctor visits while being examined because he was afraid of forgetting something the doctor had said and I could speak to him about the visit afterwards.

I think if you joined your mom for doctor appointments and testing it could be helpful to both of you. If your mom allows you to join her and have medical access then you get to hear the facts straight from the doctor.
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By "treat this as an actual disease in case something is really wrong" - what do you mean? What would you do differently, compared to what you would do if she were a proven, indubitable big fat fake?

Something is really wrong.
Either a) she is not faking, there is something seriously wrong.
Or b) she is faking, a person's choosing to imitate symptoms of advanced Alzheimer's Disease is quite an extreme way of acting out, and you would conclude that there is something seriously wrong.

What's your father's view? What sort of way forward is he hoping for?

How would you describe the impact your mother's behaviour is having on her and his life?

And what does your mother say about her own condition? If she believes she has Alzheimer's Disease, for example, how does she feel about that?
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NeedHelpWithMom Mar 2020
Totally agree with this, CM.
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