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My sister and I are having a debate. As Dad's primary caregiver I saw incidences of sundowning on a regular basis. (He passed a yr ago) When she covered for me for 10 days to give me a break, he apparently had no episodes. This gave her inspiration to question his dementia diagnosis and to suggest that "maybe it's your attitude that has Dad acting the way he does with you". (at which point I wanted to strangle her!! lol..)


He was also a perfect angel with her the entire time. Never was abusive with her, never yelled at her, never gave her any trouble. (at which point I wanted to strangle him, lol!)


Is this normal? Can their behaviors adjust like this? I think I have heard that there is something called showboating, where they act on best behavior with non-primary caregivers. Is this a real thing?


If anyone has links verifying the reality of inconsistencies in sundowning, or the reality of showboating please share. I've searched and haven't come up with anything.


thanks,


margie

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My Dad was able to “hold it together” when there were other people around.

i think they tend to save it for the people they are with everyday....maybe they feel safe and so it is OK to just let fly with them?

i know that it was daily with my Dad. The more stressful it was later in the day..the worse it would be. If we have a nurse and a PT in the house in the afternoon....it would be too much for him. But, he always waited till other people left....then all H*ll would break lose.

so, I understand that his usual caregivers would mostly be the only ones to see the “real” deal come diner time.
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gaiagirlm Oct 25, 2019
I had that happen so many times! I would come home after he was with the aid for 4 hrs and he would be a sweet as pie to her. Soon as she would leave it was like the Exorcist revisited. He would growl and get nasty angry with me. I often felt like begging the aid not to leave so I could just enjoy him being nice to me for awhile!
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First off, your sister SAYS your dad had no episodes of sundowning or any other dementia related problems while she cared for him for a 10 day period. To say something is one thing, to have it actually be true is another.

Secondly, many MANY people like to 'question' a dementia diagnosis in a parent or a loved one because COME ON, not MY mother! Not MY father! Simply not possible his or her mind is no longer working properly. Denial is not just a river in Egypt. I work as a receptionist in a Memory Care community; we have a woman who's one of the worst cases residing there; she cannot speak or remember how to eat, she's very aggressive & snatches food and items right out of other people's hands all the time. She recently snatched another lady's hearing aid out of her hand at ATE it. Seriously. Well, her son says his mother does NOT have dementia & all she needs is the proper care to 'get better'. He now wants her to learn SIGN LANGUAGE, believe it or not, so she can 'be taught to communicate'. Hello. If she remembered how to communicate, she'd speak, like she's done her whole life. She is incapable of being taught ANYTHING new, never mind something as involved as sign language. Try telling HIM that, though.

Thirdly, showboating (I call it Showtiming) is very VERY real indeed. How do I know? My 92 y/o mother is the Queen of it, that's how! I have people asking me all the time what SHE is doing in Memory Care b/c she obviously is FINE and not suffering from dementia at all! Really? How about that! She scored a 10 on the MOCA test, by the way, out of 30. Which means she's past moderate and on the border of SEVERE dementia at this point. But boy she can sure talk a good game based on old muscle memory. Small talk, that is. Chit chat. That's basically what showtimers rely on: the small talk; the "Hi how are you today? My my don't you look lovely? What did you have for lunch?" That kind of thing. Talk that involves no real conversation, no questions that require thought or recall; just small talk.

Here is a link to blog on the topic of showtiming: https://coping.today/what-does-showtime-mean/

And another on showtiming: https://lewywarriors.wordpress.com/2016/02/22/its-showtime/

Nothing you'll read about Sundowning says that it happens 'all the time', because it's erratic. It may happen every night for a week or two, and then not at all for a month or more. There is nothing 'normal' or 'sensible' or 'logical' about dementia at all, and anyone who does not recognize it doesn't have enough experience dealing with a loved one suffering from it.

Your sister is wrong on this one, I'm afraid.

All the best to you, and I'm sorry for the loss of your dad.
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gaiagirlm Oct 25, 2019
Thank you so much. Denial is definitely huge here. See my response to Caregiver2 for more of the story. I don't imagine they did much more than small talk while she was with him as she would have been treading lightly, not wanting to "activate the beast", after 20+ yrs of estrangement, due to his àbusive, reactive, dysfunctional behavior way back then. Funny that she would then question my attitude and suggest I am the cause of his behavior when she estranged from him all these yrs. I know what i experienced, have videos to prove it, and know she was lucky to not have to experience the hell I did. But I needed to get some more positive feedback and proof about the showboating stuff. Thanks!
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Oh YES, showboating or whatever its medical name is (I like yours) is very very real. We have just got my mother into a NH where I have had very good conversations with the senior nurse on precisely this. I know from her behaviour over a period of months that mother has dementia. (All documented ready for Dr when he does assessment). But to everyone else - apart from this senior nurse - she appears normal, polite, capable. She has even recently been able to fool a solicitor so she could change her will. The only people she has ever shown unpleasant, erratic, forgetful, non logical are us. Although she does lie to everyone else this seems to be a separate behaviour to the dementia and has been seen by others. It makes it very hard to get a diagnosis and therefore to be able to manage her affairs although she literally doesn't know what she is doing or why.
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gaiagirlm Oct 25, 2019
I totally understand the workings behind showboating. I mean, it must be terrifying for them because they have to realize that things are not working like they used to, and the desire to try and hold onto to "normal" as much as possible must be extraordinary. It sure is hard for us on the other side though, huh?
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Showboating is very real. I have seen it several times. The last was when MIL came bouncing out of the doctor's office with a donut they gave her from the break room, (no walker or cane needed). You would have thought she was 20. She is 89 and normally complains constantly about digestive issues, and she has mild memory loss. When she is at her check up she is spot on and the doctor tells her she has another 10 years......
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gaiagirlm Oct 25, 2019
Luckily Dads primary NP had been his Dr for 20 yrs and could see right through his attempts to convince her everything was ok. At least her and u were on the same page and she was a great ally!
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Absolutely!! I felt like I was reading my own thoughts in your post. My brother seems to think much of mom’s personality now is just typical old age. She lives with me and he might see her every other month with kids in tow for 2-3 hours so not one on one time like I have. He will have her 7 days out of the year and is more than ready to bring her back to me. The nasty side takes a couple days to come out, but it’s still not the level of what I get. I’ve researched a lot and watched Teepa Snow videos and podcasts. She talks about the brain being broken. Once the disease begins the brain is broken and everything the person says or does is now from the perspective of the disease. I think our siblings have some serious denial issues and their guilt for their lack of involvement helps them reason that things are not so bad. Makes us feel like we’ve overreacted at times, no? I’ve not seen sundowning every night, but agitation is quicker at night. Less involved and more likely to be bored. The showboating is with everyone and I think unless you engage them in direct conversation where you ask questions, as opposed to doing all the talking, then you’ll pick up on the nuances of the disease in motion. You’re not getting much talking to them about your day, your work, your kids etc etc. I would just say to move the conversation to better times and memories. You know what you lived through and your experience was real and valid. Siblings can have their own perception and God sees all.
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gaiagirlm Oct 25, 2019
Thanks for your reply. My sibling was fully estranged from my father for 20+ years, so has not witnessed the gradual decline. When she stayed with him for 10 days it was only due to my insistance because I hadn't had a break in 8 months and was ready to lose my own mind! She lives in TX and was going to be in CT for 3 weeks visiting her kids and grandkids. I had to beg her practically before she would do it. Then, she said, when I returned, everything went great, he was fine, no problems. And preceded to ask if he had ever officially been diagnosed with dementia and that she never saw signs of sundowning. She also said they "mended the past", which consisted of a brief conversation where he said "there's a lot of things in the past, they should probably stay there" and she agreed. And that was it. Poof! 20+ yrs of estrangement all better and "hey, did you ever consider that maybe it's your attitude that has Dad acting like he does with you???"
Yaa, denial. It's huge!!!
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Every person has a different perspective. Be glad your sibling had good times and less problems. Cherish your memories as well. Agree to disagree on this subject, especially since the LO is already gone.
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lealonnie1 Oct 23, 2019
What on earth is the point in admonishing the OP for asking a legitimate question??
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Showtiming, aka, showboating is very real. The elder will "opt" to act differently than what they do to their primary caregiver.
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My SIL used to do this; she had had severe depression and a brain tumor. Her older sister kept trying to get SS Disability for her, but she showtimed every time they had an appointment. The only time she let it show was with her sisters and SIL's, There was one night when she had been staying with a sister who lived a couple of houses away from her brother. She ran back and forth most of the night, in her nightgown, trying to decide where to spend night. She was willing to see a doctor but they didn't take her seriously; one suggested "stress counseling." I finally took her to my own primary, who recognized the neurological symptoms immediately; we heard him on the phone in his office with the head of Neurology at the local hospital (we both had Kaiser)"You WILL see this lady, and you WILL see her NOW." That was the breakthrough that got her properly diagnosed; she did get a tumor removed from her brain, and was in a psych facility and got appropriate medications for the depression.
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Gaiagirlm............I just read your comment about settling your dad's estate after he passed. Your sister is obviously making these bogus statements because she's after more MONEY. To be estranged from her own father for so many years, then to come back for 10 DAYS and say that YOU are the one who's been 'mistreating' your father & there is nothing wrong with him is an obvious ploy to contest his will and get more $$$$$$$$$$$$$. This didn't sound like a valid argument to begin with, and now that you've given more details, it all makes sense.

Sad, isn't it?
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Yes, like clock work.
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