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Help! Mom and Dad are 82 now. They have been active up til this last year. They took their last trip to Florida this past year, so it's not like they are falling apart physically. Dad is starting to slow way down though with his balance and stability with getting around. Mom could probably run a marathon. She's phenomenal. They are both getting forgetful, but I even I am in my forties!! lol For the last year, however, I have seen Dad get increasingly irritated, mean and angry. I've read up on Dementia, and I'm quite certain these are a result of that. Dad yells at Mom so much that I know she is miserable. I have confronted his anger issue's to him before and told him there are meds for that, but he's old school, where you don't go to the doctor unless something is broke. I told Mom maybe go to doctor to get a script of Anti-Depression meds and slip them in his coffee OR SOMETHING! lol I know that is not the practical route to go, but Dad would NEVER go to the doc for his behavior. I told him the other day...why don't you just divorce Mom if she makes you so angry (jokingly). They have been married 58 years, and I love them both, but hate to see Mom go thru this. My brother lives out of town and doesn't what I see. When he does come to visit, it appears nothing is wrong. But I hear it (and see it) first hand how mean Dad is to Mom. The other day he even grabbed her by the arm...which is NOT ok with me. They have never had a physically abusive relationship before....Yieks...please help ~ I really appreciate your input!

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Diabetes and other blood sugar imbalances can cause this irritability too. My father was diabetic and he was a bear when his blood sugar got out of balance. Has your father gained/lost weight in the past year? Thyroid imbalances can cause this as well. When my thyroid gets overly stimulated by my medications I'm a real "Beatch". When my mother was diagnosed with hyper thyroid, irritability was one of the symptoms. Don't be too quick to think it's dementia. He needs a full blood work up with a fasting glucose tolerance test. I had a friend that was given antidepressants for her inability to get off the sofa. Had she seen a decent doctor at the onset of the problem she would be alive today. She died of cancer - not diagnosed until a month before her death. Get your dad in for a complete physical .
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My mother has flat out refused to see a doc for the last four years. After a terrible dementia incident that required a trip via ambulance to the ER, she just had to go. I told her the appointment was for me and I went in first and spoke with the doc. HE went to the waiting room and brought her back. She was very angry, did not communicate much, but the doc was able to assess her demeanor. Sometimes I guess we have to be creative to get our loved ones the help they need. Sadly, we have no geriatric docs here. I think that would be a good route, Cranky, as they have far better understanding about the aging body and mind. Hope you can get your dad in with a doc and get to the bottom of his behavior changes. Best of luck!
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I was lucky, both my parents had the same primary care doctor and she dealt with aging folks. Write both parents' doctors and tell them that you don't want them to let your parents know you are writing. Tell both doctors the same thing. I am concerned that your father is grabbing your mother, and so will they.

Find something that is important to your father, driving, sleeping, sex, peeing, getting around like he used to. That is what would make him see participating in medications or any kind. What is important to HIM. Mom took antidepressants for nerve pain in her hip and as a secondary effect, it helped her not to wet herself! That is what kept her taking the pills! We were interested in her taking the pills because she was so moody, angry, irritable.

Your father's balance could be something as simple as an ear inflammation. I think we all fear hearing catastrophic news if we see the doctor. My dad had chest pains, finally saw the doctor to find out is was a hernia. He was so relieved to discover it was not his heart.

Any doctor will want to make sure nothing is physically wrong before considering mental health type issues. Maybe his MD will treat this a "routine" complete physical and explore strokes, etc.

Also, when you first become aware that you are loosing control of your thought processing, forgetting stuff, not hearing or seeing well, it is frightening. Anger is a natural reaction to fear.

Work out a safety plan for your mother (go next door and call you for example). She also must not argue with him if he is no longer able to control his reactions. They might have been equal verbal sparring partners before, but no longer.
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Cranky, you can tell his doctor about it. Give him examples, dates, any pattern of deterioration you can spot. The doctor can't tell you what, if anything, he'll do in response; but at least he'll have the information to act on if he thinks it's right to. Just for example, he might decide it's time he had both your parents in for an "overhaul" - prevention is better than cure… a stitch in time saves nine… forewarned is forearmed… You get the idea.

Other than that, all I can offer is sympathy. My parents used to take verbal bites out of each other all the time and it made me feel ill. They, I have to say, never even seemed to notice. If your mother is miserable, that might actually be because she's really worried about him, of course. One more thing to mention to their doctor? Best of luck.
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Cranky007, the symptoms you describe sound like depression to me. Depression can be a part of dementia and can also occur with other diseases or on its own. No one but a qualified doctor can figure out what is going on and how to treat it. I hope you can get him to a doctor on some other pretext -- going because of his behavior won't make sense to him. Then inform the doctor ahead of time about your concerns about his behavior.
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I agree with the other comments to seek advice from a primary physician. I have found that this generation (the great generation!), when they do go to a doctor, will listen to him/her vs caregivers or family members. My mother is weeks away from final days, with cancer and dementia and will be really adverse to me helping her at times. When a hospice nurse or caregiver comes in, she puts on "her face" and cooperates. A year ago, she would be emotionally abusive, and putting her on zoloft really helped. Now, I put her pills in her pudding, and also inject (with small syringe) into her mouth while she is asleep. Your father is not this far along but the diagnosis is the first step. Does he have an annual physical coming up? Good luck, and I feel for you at such a young age to be going through this.
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Oh, I also want to address your thinking that any doctor can prescribe anti depressants. I suppose it's true, but quite frankly, I'd be wary of one who would unless you are seriously in an area where there are no real experts in the field of psychiatry. A person doesn't just pop an anti depressant into their mouths. It takes a long time to figure out the correct dosages and to see if certain drugs are working.

Please, if you are in a more urban area, try to find a geriatric doctor who is also Board Certified. My mom is from MA, so it's easy to find good doctors, but there's this joke in FL, where my home is, that 'all doctors are 'geriatric doctors', which isn't true. Look up Geriatric Medicine. It's a new specialty and all doctors are not geriatric doctors. Even in FL, where medicine is getting better and better each day, a doctor has to be Board Certified to state he is a geriatric doctor. A geriatrician will NOT slough off a pain here and there. S/he will not say, "Oh, it's old age'...I lost my FIL to cancer of the bone because his doctor told him his pain was a result of arthritis without even taken an xray which would have found the cancer. I'm really big on geriatric medicine! I've seen it work and I'm impressed. But, as I wrote above, it's just not a specialty that's taken hold in many states. I was surprised to find that in FL, there are many doctors who I'm sure are wonderful, but there are not many 'geriatric' board certified physicians.
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By 'happy pills' I assume you talking about anti-depressants? I have to wonder if you'd call heart pills 'happy pills'. I have to ask how you will feel when you figure out your life is going to change? I don't appreciate people calling anti-depressants anything but what they are and I believe this is why people are so hesitant to go to doctors and/or psychiatrists for fear of being labeled nuts. "Happy Pills' allow a person to function. They do not make them 'happy'. It's time to take the mystery out of brain function and start accepting the brain as probably the most important organ we have in our bodies. Without it, there's nothing.

Does he have regular checkups? If so, and if you are his health care proxy, you could ask the doctor beforehand to give him the Montreal Cognitive Exam (or whatever test s/he uses. This will enable the doctor to figure out just how far along he is if he is suffering from dementia. From there, they will possibly give him an MRI.

My mother had an unreasonable fear of psychiatrists because in her thinking to see one would validate what we've all known for decades, her depression. It wasn't until she was hospitalized for the paranoia, delusional thinking, dementia, etc., that she was placed on small amounts of anti depressants and medication for the paranoia/delusional thinking. She functions much better now and quite frankly, I don't believe she understands she is taking this meds.

Please - let's take the stigma out of going to see a psychiatrist (preferably, if you can, one who deals in geriatric medicine an is BOARD CERTIFIED in their field). His behavior could be the result of depression because he knows he's not going back to FL and he sees his wife happy or it could be dementia. Nobody will know until the diagnosis is given.

I nope this all works out for you. Let's take the 'crazy' out of mental illness.
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The aggression is common with Lewy Body dementia and will progress. If he has been having mini strokes this could cause the aggressiveness as well. There is medication that can reduce maybe even stop the strokes. This alone is reason enough to get him to the doctor. Would your dad comprehend that? I noticed a significant change in cognition with stepdad, took him to the doctor, ordered an MRI. Stepdad had had a series of mini strokes that was causing the confusion. Started him on a new medication to help reduce the. He too is of the generation that does not go to doc unless something is obviously wrong. He realized there were cognition issues so finally agreed to go to doc, thankfully.
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There are few different forms of dementia come with personality changes. You should (carefully!) seed into your dad's head that he needs assessment to find out what is going on with him considering that sometimes it can be reversed (which is true!). Do not insist on meds right away. Try to use herbal tees, essential oils (Frankincense, Lavender, etc), meditation, exercise, activities: senior community centers could be great option as your mom and dad would be in the same space but surrounded by others and busy.
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We as caregivers can observe signs of dementia, but it's up to the professionals to diagnose it. Your father may have some physical issues which have caused his behavioral change.

I cringed at the idea of slipping anti-depressants into his coffee. I know you were joking, but that's really gambling - do you know for a fact that a script your mother obtained could be safely used by your father?

Perhaps you can approach the issue a different way. Tell your parents you want to make sure that they're as strong as they can be to enjoy life for several more decades, vacation, and be safe, and would like to explore options for strengthening Dad's stability and balance.

Start with a primary care doctor or internist, then ask about a good orthopedic doctor and therapy for Dad's balance. Speak with the doctor's staff privately before the appointment to share your concerns and caution her/him not to discuss your specific concerns about Dad's behavioral changes directly with your father as most likely he'll either not recognize the changes or deny them.

And you want the full benefit of anything else the doctor may find - it's too easy to view elders in the context of dementia and depression when there could be something more physical amiss.

Something has caused a change in his behavior but even if it is dementia, one way or the other you'll have to figure out how to get him to see a doctor. Using a pretense such as the falling issue or making sure he remains fit enough to drive and vacation might be successful. Good luck.
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