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My mom can go from pleasant to argumentative in a moment's notice. It'll usually start with a simple statement or question from her which I'll respond to. This is an actual conversation we just had after laughing over a different topic 5 minutes ago:


MOM: I wonder if the boys are still working. (The boys are her grandsons that both have temporary jobs)
ME: They haven't worked for 2 weeks now.
MOM (angrily): I think I would know they go to work everyday.


The End. The lights turn off. Curtains close. No applause because the audience is befuddled as to how they bought a ticket to what started as a comedy but abruptly ended as a tragedy.


This makes me wonder if she knows her memory is bad. Are dementia patients aware of their condition?

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You must want to cry with boredom and frustration JessieBelle.

And to think how I used to groan and huff if my Dad started off on one of his boring old stories over Sunday lunch - we weren't allowed to move on to pudding or leave the table until everyone had finished, and if he was talking he wasn't eating. Ugh!!! True enough we don't know we're born sometimes, eh?

Can you make it up, throw in a little variety? Actually don't do that, it would be cruel; just in your head maybe. Any idea when the new neighbours might arrive? - at least it will introduce something different for her to want to "get straight" (if only!).
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Awe, sending you strength JessieBelle 😉💜
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It is so much harder when they don't know, or won't admit to, having dementia. Tonight my mother was having a lot of confusion about a neighbor's house. She's had the same confusion since they put it up for sale a couple of months ago. She asks me to explain things to her, which I do, but she twists it up in her mind and wants me to explain again so she can get everything straight. Tonight after going through this a few times I had to get out of the room. I wanted to bang my head on the table just to get it to stop. It would be so much easier if she realized that her brain isn't working right and not if I explain something better then she will understand.

The situation is easy. The house is up for sale and the woman will be moving to an apartment. They just haven't left yet. My mother for some reason thinks that they rented the house to someone before it sells. It doesn't matter, but she can't let it go. It's so simple, but to a broken mind that invents stories to explain things like why there are cars parked, it isn't simple. Tonight she complicated it by throwing another neighbor into the mix.

This disease is awful. It is driving me nuts. I wish I could just say that it's the dementia and that nothing else is wrong.
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I think they notice things early on even before we do. I believe my mom hid it from me, mostly by making excuse as to not to see me or reason I should go home early.

Now I believe she knows she needs help with daily actives and finally excepts the help, but I don't think she really knows why. She is always present when I talk to her doctors (mainly because she thought we were making thinks up about her) and I always ask her if she has questions for them or concerns. She always she is fine or good.

Who is to really say what is happening in their minds, I know it confuses me.
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My MIL broke my heart yesterday when she asked "What happened to me?" and "I don't know anything. What is wrong with me?". How awful it must be to know that you don't know.

Usually, she sleeps a lot. That is, if she isn't on one of her multi-day marathons of no sleep. She can go almost 4 complete says and nights now without sleep. Then she will 'crash' and be almost unable to get up for anything. Thankfully, some mess are now keeping those marathons of no sleep to a minimum.
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8My mother has verbal recall issues due to vascular dementia. I can see she is aware of her decline and is frustrated so she just screams like the toddler from H*ll as her way of communication. It must be so terrifying and confusing for her to know that she's declining. It's very sad for me to see her in this condition.
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As others have stated, does one know that one has dementia? Maybe, maybe not. IF a person is in the early stages AND that person will accept a doctor's diagnosis, perhaps they would know it, at least for a while. But even knowing it does not help the person determine which memories are current or realize what is lost already. Our mother was quite aware that she was forgetting some things, but adamant that it was only some things, not that bad and she's entitled to forget sometimes because she is old (93 last August).
Anyway, her forgetfulness was much worse than she was aware of. If you tried to tell her she WOULD get angry with you (doctor made THAT mistake!). I really wish they would not refer to it as 'dementia', because too many people equate that with 'crazy'.
It is NOT being crazy, it is cognitive decline. Anyway...

Questions like wondering if the boys are still working are best handled with finesse - would it be "quitting" time if they were working? Glance at clock or watch and say oh no they're probably headed home for dinner now, or it's lunchtime, they're probably out getting lunch or something along those lines. It seems clear that she has forgotten their work status if she asked that question - you have to tread lightly, be prepared, and fend off these kind of questions, comments, statements or whatever with fluff. As the nurse who first assessed mom said - little white lies.
Just like others have said, sometimes you could carry on a conversation for 10+ minutes and not realize how bad off she was, yet other times you would hear the same story, questions, comments over and over in that 10 minutes.
Funny story - mom was moved to memory care in January, the first resident in a newly rebuilt facility. Finally two more women moved in. Shortly after that, one woman's daughter wrote an article about dementia and the facility for a local paper, and with it was a picture of the resident. Mom reads this, recognizes the woman and promptly tells her that her family put her here because she is crazy. Great. Thanks mommie dearest! But, if she (our mom) *really* understood all this well enough, she should be wondering why SHE is there!
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My mother is in the moderate stage as well. She knows, tho, that she has "forgetfulness" and that her brain doesn't work right. She, too, gets scared and upset because she doesn't know what the future for her will be like. However....she also feels that I make her out to be much more forgetful than she is. She believes that as long as she can take care of herself, she's not that bad. Mom is in an ALF where she gets her meals; has housekeeping; and has her laundry done. All other aspects of her "taking care of herself" such as showering, dressing, getting to meals etc., she does do by herself. But she has done these things for herself for a very long time because Dad passed away a long time ago. But...she has fallen numerous times and refuses to use the walker as she should; she cannot read or find the words to use when she wants to talk; she gets lost if you turn her around.....yadayadayada. What I'm trying to say is that while she knows she has a problem, she does not realize the depth of it. So, yes, I do believe that people with dementia know that they have a problem, but, in my Mom's case, refuse to or do not recognize the extent and depth of the dementia.
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I was told that dementia patients are more aware of their condition than Alzheimer's, I don't know if this is true? My mother definitely knew that something was wrong. She was very smart and highly articulate, and she put on a great show for quite a while.
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When my husband was diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia, we discovered one of the symptoms was that those affected do not realize they have it. I remember my husband just being glad when he was told that it was not Alzheimer's.
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Difficult to determine if she has dementia or the beginning of Alzheimer's. My mother just passed about a month ago at age 95. Her dementia was progressively getting worse the past few years. She did realize her memory was getting worse and would often say that and get aggravated when asked questions. Most of the time, by lunchtime, she forgot what she had for breakfast. Would often ask the same questions over and over. It was just easier to keep giving her the sane answer when she asked. Can drive you nuts but you have to stop and understand the process going on.
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I am not a professional. However, I do know that with some people, if they don't know what to reply, they show anger.

Yes, she knows she is forgetting things - does she put a label on it (Dementia) - that I cannot say. But my husband is forgetting more each day and it leaves him confused and befuddled.

Thankfully he isn't the one to get angry, it's usually me and it's less anger and more about frustration because I don't always know what to do.

I Always apologize after and he says he understands, bless his heart. While it is hard on the caregiver, it's just as bad on the patient.
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Each situation is different. There are a few writers on this website who know they have dementia and they write about it. They talk about the disease and how it affects them. They are very self aware. I was always amazed at them because my mother would never accept her diagnosis. I think those individuals who have accepted the diagnosis know they have it. Others live in denial and then the denial leads to anger, agitation etc. The doctor told my mom, that once she accepts this diagnosis - she will be at peace. She never has.

My mom now lives in a memory care facility and has no clue that she has dementia. I think its all part of their personal journey.
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You can know in principle and in theory that you have dementia, and still not know that one particular specific thought you have, and that you're quite sure of, is mistaken.

I'm sorry that you're experiencing these abrupt changes in temperature from warm to freezing when you're just trying to have an ordinary, pleasant conversation with your mother. It's a shock every time, no matter how much you think you're ready for it, and it's incredibly discouraging when it comes to keeping things light and "normal" (whatever normal is nowadays?).

But it's worse for her. Imagine not being able to keep a reliable grip on even the basics of family activity, and being only half-aware with it, and certain that you know something only to find out that you're 100% wrong... Even before I knew anyone with dementia personally, not being able to believe your own brain always struck me as the most disturbing and frightening thing imaginable.

I would suspect that when your mother freezes up - or snaps shut, you put it well - like this, it's because she's suddenly unsettled and reacts angrily to that feeling. It must be awful for you, too, a real kick on the shins. Maybe it would be best either to say nothing and squeeze her hand or make her a drink or whatever, or to change the subject to something reassuring - isn't the sky blue today, it'll soon be time for the news, we must give the boys a ring and see how they're doing. You want some way of restoring her grip gently.

Mind you. I wish I could promise that she won't just be angrier with you for being condescending - or "maddening" as my mother put it sometimes. But worth a try, I hope.
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At a certain point the dementia will bother the family/caregivers much more than it does the patient. My mom was happy to sit on the couch and do crosswords all day and was perfectly happy. I kept her house running and her snacks out and her meals going.
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My mother is aware she is becoming "forgetful" and repetitive. I know it's frustrating to her. My 'MIA sibs' don't notice at all, since you need to spend an hour with her to see it. She can talk very coherently for 15 minutes, then she repeats herself, with some additional information, then tells you the same thing AGAIN with MORE embellishment, and by the 4th telling, the story is very convoluted. She forgets names, dates, places she's been, what day it is. She covers it pretty well---but soon she won't be able to. I imagine each person's experience with dementia is individual to them.
I am only 60, but I joke that I either tell one of my 5 kids the same thing 5 times or forget to tell any of them anything. I have a lot of sympathy for aging--it isn't for sissies!
I also find that my kids are very impatient with me. Probably due to the fact I like to TALK to them, not have all my communications be by text or email. My son has requested I ONLY text him, as he is too busy to talk. That hurts, but he himself has 4 kids and one day......he'll get how much it hurts to have your child basically reduce you to the level of an annoying buzzing sound.
As far as dementia--most people will have some degree of it if they live long enough.
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My mom had bizarre stories for years that I didn't take seriously because I thought it was just her personality. We were never close & the change was insidiously slow. At one point sheer was convinced my kind & wonderful husband was beating me the the kids. Conversations were strained & awkward. I think, as we watch our loved ones deteriorate, we have to find our own humor. Now I can look back & be amused by the crazy things my mom claimed but it is bittersweet, now she can barely talk at all. It hurts & my only advice to you is try to find the fun, even in the uncomfortable strained moments. For your heart.
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What I can say is that Dementia and Alzheimer's are no laughing matter. They devastate family connections especially when loved ones act out of character and we don't have the experience to know that they are suffering from a dreaded disease. I think dementia and Alzheimer's are becoming an epidemic and are not just affecting the elderly, but are increasingly affecting people at a younger age, which is a travesty. Early diagnosis will help families understand the situation better and try to be more supportive. We could all learn more about these two diseases and be more aware of changes happening. My mom displayed many symptoms of dementia for years but I was ignorant about the disease and thought it was just her personality and background. It was only 3 years ago that she was diagnosed with moderate vascular dementia(there are other types). It is however progressing and every day is a challenge so I get on sites like this to learn as much as I can; being hands on and learning much from Teepa Snow's videos who is an expert on the issue. Patience, kindness, and understanding are important. Here is a series of her youtube videos: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUgPm8RMa48&list=PLeu1xlHHkFCU_k85X1xBwjzayVIzNB12R
Also here are two of the books I found helpful: Loving Someone Who Has Dementia, How to find hope while coping with stress and grief ISBN978-1-118-00229-2 and A caregiver's guide to Lewy Body Dementia (a more challenging form of a little known dementia) ISBN 978-1932603934
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My FIL is sounding to be going through the same thing. In the last 30 days, he is showing bizarre behavior. CT scan came back ok after going to neurologist. They are calling it moderate dementia. But, you start a conversation and he goes off on you. And even though he is almost 80, he gets in your face mad.

We were talking about his apartment and he was not sure which of the three we should go to. My wife has been calling the nursing home for her mom as the "other" apartment to encourage her mom to stay there as her mom keeps saying she wants to go home. Well, my wife's dad started taking that literally and does pretty much everything there but shower. So, when I tried to counter him about the 3 apartments, he got really mad and said "You don't believe me?, Here are the keys, let's go and I can show them to you" We were eating dinner with him and my kids and the kids were trying not to laugh. Ok, well, I guess I was holding it in too. But, it was off the charts nuts. I am not around this enough to know how to handle it. His wife is much more frail and does not speak much.
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I would say we all have that moment at some point in time when we realize something's not quite right but just plain deny it and/or laugh it off. I sure have my moments and get aggravated but now also pray it won't progress to dementia. My sister and niece (actually all of us in the family) can make jokes about ourselves aloud. But my mom with Alzheimer's never once joked aloud to any of us about her bad memory and firmly denied it was progressing from the start. She was (still is) a relatively quiet woman who always worked but did laugh and enjoy her life with dad and us kids. She'd get furious with dad years ago when he joked with her about "losing it." When dad died, she got much worse. I'd say she did know how bad she was slipping years ago and could never bring herself to talk about it with anybody. (In fact, right now, I realize I have never known how my mother's mind works. It was always like pulling teeth to get her to talk about much of anything of a serious nature or to make sound decisions by herself). Just a very sad aspect of this disease for me - that she never felt she could talk to us about any of it.
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It depends on the stage of dementia. You may recall that Ronald Reagan announced that he had been diagnosed with dementia. In the early stages, people often realize they're having memory problems.
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Oh, that sounds like a common scenario. Mind bending.

Do people know they have dementia? Some do, some don't. Some know sometimes, but then forget. Some are like my mother and say their memory is bad, then say it's fine. There's no winning. All we can do is shrug our shoulders.
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I think that it varies by the patient and their level of progression. My LO knew that she was having memory problems. And she was scared of how things seemed different to her. I'm not sure how much she was able to process about her dementia though. She did look concerned when the Neurologist said that she did have dementia, but, he wasn't sure why. That he had to do more tests to find the cause. She knew what that meant and she said that she didn't want to forget her parents, because there were such good people. Later, she forgot most everything......but, she still remembers her parents. It's odd. She doesn't know she has dementia anymore.

I suspect that most of the time, they do not understand that their memory is as bad as it is, because even if they realized it, they would shortly forget it.
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