A little bit of background: My mother is 80 years old and has had a knee replacement canceled twice due to issues with her blood pressure. The last time she was literally on the operating table. Now her knee has gotten so bad she's basically crippled, using a walker, and we are looking for (hopefully) temporary home care to prevent a bad fall.
She has never had a lot of emotional strength. My dad was the rock in our family and she depended on him for everything. She also likes to engage in magical thinking... like ignoring her medical issues until they become so bad she is forced to act. (She should have had this knee surgery several years ago). "Ignorance is bliss" is her favorite motto and she is incredibly stubborn to the point of exasperation. She also doesn't like change... her routine and her familiar environments are everything to her. Suffice it to say, she has always been a difficult woman and things are only getting worse.
My question is... can the extreme stress brought about the the canceled surgeries, her current state of limbo (we're waiting to get the next surgery scheduled, if she can even have it), my dad's death several years ago, fear over her worsening health... cause dementia? In the past few months, most notably since the last cancelled surgery, she is displaying clear signs of cognitive decline, and just overall decline. For example: She thinks the remote is the phone... she can't eat without spilling all over herself... she acts hysterical about this medical drama and calls her friends multiple times a day rehashing the awful events, but with fantastical embellishments. What really scares the crap out of me: The other day she said she thought my cousin was here helping take care of her... and I don't have a cousin. I'm her daughter and I'm the only one taking care of her. She has since "apologized" about this, and said she is just extremely upset about what's been happening. She thinks her brain couldn't accept the reality of the cancelled surgery and she kind of snapped. She's always been a bit forgetful and loopy, but this was totally shocking to me. I haven't even recounted what happened to my friends or significant other because I'm so disturbed.
I'm hoping that this is not as serious as it clearly appears to be. Has anyone else experienced frightening cognitive decline after a trauma? And can a person get back to normal eventually?
Thanks for your help!