maggiesue Asked October 2009

Does someone with dementia know they have a problem?


I can't tell if my mother has dementia or she's just conning me again. She says she goes down into a state of confusion then comes back. She has personality problems and has always acted wierd. If she has dementia would she be aware of it and be able to report it to me? She is 91, frail, and lives alone.

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EXPERT Carol Bradley Bursack Oct 2009
Many people are aware they are having problems but try to cover it up. Some don't notice. At her age, she could have dementia and may have had for quite some time, but you indicate that maybe other mental issues have existed. Only a doctor is going to be able to figure this out. It sounds like she needs a evaluation.
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EXPERT Lynn Harrelson Nov 2009
In helping evaluate patients in nursing homes, many times the intermittent "dementia' proved to be TIA's (transient ischemic attacks) or mini strokes. I would strongly urge a comprehensive evaluation. Bring in a log of the times and length of episodes of the "dementia". Also, changes in blood sugars for some patients can cause problems, that’s why the time log is beneficial.
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jazzsmom Nov 2009
My mom is 93 and her dementia has turned into Alzheimers. Most of the time she does not know who I am. One of the things you should do when you walk into a room where the demented parent is, is to say, Hi Mom, or Hi Dad, or whomever. I find that they fear most people in this state, but when you call them an endearing name like mom or dad, they relax and get some clarity if just for a moment. This is a cruel disease. I asked my mom, do you know who I am and she looked at me and said "Are you my mother". My heart cries out for her. For them all who suffer with this. May God watch over them all.
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ezcare Nov 2009
To be sure you need a doctor to determine if she has dementia and weather it is Alzheimer's or some other form. Once that determination has been made you will need to make some serious decisions regarding your mother's care. If she has a form of dementia that can be treated, you need to ensure your mother gets that treatment ASAP. It can open many more options than if your mother's condition continues to worsen and you are forced to provide 24/7 care. You do not give enough details to provide any specific tips but here a a few general one's I have learned from my experience:
1. Make sure your mother's finances are in order, that she has a will and a designated POA before her dementia pushes her past the point where she will be allowed to sign any legal documents.
2. If you have siblings, hold a family meeting to decide who will do what when the time comes to pitch in. The technology we have today enables even brothers/sisters living hundreds of miles away to participate in the caregiving process. So insist that everyone help out or you will be the stuckee (if you know what I mean).
3. Keep your mother in the decision loop as long as she is able/willing to participate, but watch out for Roll Reversal. This occurs when you know your mother is making irrational decisions but you do not feel empowered to make those decisions on her behalf because "she is your mother" and you were always taught to obey and respect your parents. At this point you become the Adult and she becomes the Child. You must do what's best for her regardless of how much she resists.
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Maryanna Nov 2009
My mum has dementia,she has been in hospital for 8 weeks,she is nearly blind,virtually deaf,She was admitted because she locked me out of the house,and said i was stealing from her,she rung 999,the doctors,etc,it has been going on for 3 years,this is her 3rd visit to hospital.
I am her only relative,and i have been at my wits end,according to her,i am a wicked daughter,and only want her money and her house,
no one likes her in the hospital,because she is so nasty.
They want to send her home,but i know she won't cope.
She owns her own house,and i am going to sell it,the proceeds will last about 1 year,as nursing homes for dementia are 600-1000 pw.
I feel the nhs has abandoned her,when you are old,no one cares.

I have never felt so alone,my dad saved all his life,and for what.

I don't want money,i just want her treated as a normal person,if she was a youngster,there would be outrage.

It feels good to put it into words.
I will do thing differently for myself and my husband,i never want my children to go through this.
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195Austin Nov 2009
Some times other than family members see it first-I had a friend who I could see what was going on but her family living with her did not notice until her husband died and she asked her adult children who was in a picture on the wall and it was her four grown children and that made them realize what was going on her husband had been able to deflect the truth even though he was a sick man for many years.
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This is a common concern for caregivers and family members of loved ones with Alzheimer's and other forms of dementia. These conditions progress in different ways ways for each patient, and awareness of their impairment (and the true extent of it) happens to be one of the variables that is particularly hard for family to accept.

Those in the earlier stages of dementia may be able to sense that something is not quite right with their memory and recall, but they often try to hide these shortcomings from others or simply chalk it up to old age. As their cognitive abilities decline, they can become entirely incapable of recognizing that they are mentally compromised. This phenomenon is called anosognosia, and people often misconstrue it as a patient consciously refusing to accept their condition. Caregivers can become extremely frustrated by this dementia-related behavior, but it is important to realize that anosognosia and denial are two very different things.

For more information, two of our bloggers have written excellent pieces on dementia and awareness that may be able to help:

With Alzheimer's, Denial Isn't Always What it Seems

Dementia Patients (and Caregivers) Suffer from a Lack of Insight

Best of luck to you all.
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TraceyH Oct 2009
In my case my mum does not realise she has dementia, she thinks she is pefectly normal, after months of battling with her to go in sheltered accomodation and to no avail, we have referred her to social services. Social services have reacted immediately and she was sectioned on Friday.
She beleives she is in a room full of people who are "not quite there" her words not mine i may add, and she thinks she is the normal one of them all, and she is going to have blood tests and then she is going home.
We have been informed she is "too far gone" for sheltered accomodation now and if she comes out of hospital it will be straight in to a nursing home, not home to her house as she thinks.
They do have quite clear moments of clarity maggiesue, my mum can recollect stories from way back when, but 2 days ago couldnt remember my name and called me another name (her dead sisters).
I am not sure if they can tell you when they have been in an episode and then back out of it, but if she is aware she has a problem it might help u more to get her treatment, unlike me where my mum is in complete denail and oblivion.
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Char6626 Nov 2009
My experience has been that the further these people progress in the disease, they fight the fact they have it. (my father did the same) I can still see my sister stamping her foot and saying, "I am NOT senile." Nobody had even said she was, and she saw fit to still defend herself. She thinks she can still drive, live alone, etc.....but she hasn't done any of that in almost 2 she is entering a nursing home this week. She's been assessed by a nurse 3 times (sister's tricky and can fool the best) who's convinced she needs 24/7 professional care to save her from herself. She used to admit she had a short term memory loss, but now it's also the long term memory too. She's 88 and has been alone her whole life until she came here to live with us, and it's been quite an adjustment for last she'll be where she can get some help, as she doesn't believe in doctors either.
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memsobelle Nov 2009
Yes, sometimes they do..and this is a personal experience with my father. Sometimes we will admit that he simply doesn't remember and at 87, it's only natural he doesn't remember. Other times, he will get defensive. It all depends on the day.
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