Mom was diagnosed with Dementia about 6 years ago. She is 87 and is still living in her own home with a caregiver who stops in daily to check on her, help with laundry, dr. appts. showers, etc. I usually take over after work and on the weekends. My Mom has always been a needy person. Her family physician of many years agrees! The last month, she has gotten a bit worse, short term memory issues, forgetting to hang up the phone, forgetting how to turn off the TV, etc. Somethings she can recall, like the number to call me during work hours, if I don't answer my home phone on the weekends, she calls my cell and not my work number. People tell her things and if it's a benefit or something for her, she remembers. She's been calling me around 10:00 at night to come turn off her TV because she can't remember how. I have gone to her house and the TV is off and she's happy I stopped in to tell her goodnight. Can dementia behaviors be selective?

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RM, excellent analysis and insight. I think I've seen that and didn't realize it.
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Thanks Rainmom...great post.
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I've been wondering this same thing. Everyone says over and over not to take things personally. Ok. I get it.

My mom will get up and walk around, feed herself, toilet herself, etc, when the caregiver is with her. If I walk into the room, she can suddenly no longer do any of those things and becomes a 2 person assist, incontinent, needs to be fed, etc.

Please tell me how to NOT take that personally?????? I mean, WTF?

This is not just one day, mind you, but all the time! And I even have video of her in her bedroom, scampering out of her bed, but when I get to the room (less than a minute later), she sees me and suddenly loses control of her legs. "They won't let me stand."

So does she just have a need for me to see her as less able than she is? Does she want more attention from me? She asks for me all the time, but if I come in the room her caregivers suddenly have a lot harder of a patient to deal with. It's like I'm "bad" for her somehow. It's giving me a complex. So yes, I wonder too if dementia behaviors can be selective and I'm just about convinced that they can be.
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Many people here will tell you, “no” - that a person with dementia is not capable of manipulation.

However, my experience with my own mother tells me differently.

I believe that - if a person was good at manipulating others prior to dementia, they retain some of this behavior. I think it’s a kind of “muscle memory”.

I do also believe there are some big differences between being a manipulator prior to dementia and then with dementia.

First, the level of skill at manipulating is greatly reduced. Motivation and objectives are much more transparent. It is often quite obvious as to what the manipulator is after. As well - the think the person is unaware of how transparent they are - which in turn makes it much easier to spot the behavior. They can become almost ludicrous in their attempts to cover their tracks.

The second thing is the inability to really plot a good manipulation. The objective can often be bizarre and the plot to achieve it can be off as well. For example - what you’re saying about your mother and the tv. Mom is wanting to get you to come over - for whatever reason - uses the inability to turn off the tv but then in fact, turns the tv off prior to your arrival- not being able to think through that her ploy would be more authentic if she left the tv on.

It’s tough - learning to recognize what’s a manipulation and what’s real inability.

For me, I just went with giving mom the benefit of the doubt if I wasn’t sure what was a real need and what was for attention
or whatever her objective was.

I also learned to not waste my time calling my mother out on her continuing attempts to manipulate. It did no good and increase my frustration level.

Remember The Golden Rule of Dementia:  The is no reasoning with dementia.
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I have heard from many caregivers that they think that they are being "played." Dementia behaviors aren't generally selective. Instead, during the disease's decline, the brain cells connect better some times than others. This results in better times and worse times, but all on a general trajectory downhill. Give Mom the benefit of the doubt.
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