My mother embellishes every conversation and story. Does she have dementia?

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It seems to be getting worse the past year and my experience recently is mainly on the phone with her. At any opportunity to "take-over" the converstation she does but it's the topic realigned to her own fictional narrative with people it is unclear she ever met, with minute details that seem impossible anyone could remember. So it seems she is making it all up spontaneously and will go on for 10-20 minutes without stop unless she is strongly interrupted. As if she is in a trance or dreaming.
I subtley tried to "call her bluff" on one extreme example and she became very angry and refused to understand why she was being questioned. In this case, other people also questioned her.

But other than this she seems mentailly fine and I can find no information similar to this. She does not hallucinate or talk to imaginary people as far as I know. Any ideas?

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An older person embellishing every conversation and story is not
necessarily an indicator or symptom of dementia. However, if your
concern and the pattern of embellishment persist, it would be wise to
consult a primary care physician.
My mom is going to be 91 and lives in ALF. She remembers all her family and can carry on a decent conversation. Sometimes though she will say something that is completely untrue. She isn't telling lies, in her mind they are true. She thinks she used to vacation at the ALF and thinks that she has dated some of the caregivers??? We just go along with her stories since they aren't hurting anyone...they even joke with her about it at the ALF calling some of the guys her boyfriend...she would get extremely upset if we told her that the stories weren't true.
judy1 I am laffin' at your post. Your Mom and mine should hang out they are on the same "cloud 9". Or maybe not... they might fight over the boyfriends. My Mom is in a happy place at the moment her fantasy's are also happy. I am glad for that. I also had to learn "OK" is my best reply to whatever she says. NEVER DISAGREE IS THE KEY!!! WOW an ALZ LOGO!!! My Mom(in NH) believes she works in a hospital and often when I visit she say's she's busy working I'm going to get her in trouble. So I just tell her I was driving by and wanted to see her so she says ok I guess I can take a break. I believe that since she is still smart she figured out a defense mechanism to explain why she's at a place where everyone is sickly. Mind over Matter. She was always protective of herself, being an only child and her Mother being an Agoraphobic(afraid of outside,people,eveything) I don't think she was spoiled or babied in any way. PS the right meds, and routine environment is also a comfort and creates less stress, a pleasant environment is also great medicine. She has improved a great deal with all these factors in place.
Are the stories good? Could she submit them to a magazine? The world could use some good new fiction. :)

Seriously, some people seem very skilled and spinning a good yarn, telling tall tales, and inventing stories. They generally know that is what they are doing. They can't resist and opportunity to say "that reminds me of the time I had lunch with Bill Clinton, and ..." and off they go. They know they are making something up for entertainment, and except for the youngest family present, they don't really expect others to take them seriously.

I take it that this does not describe your mother. You think she believes what she makes up? And this behavior is new? I guess I'd keep a close eye on her other behavior. Aside from boring or annoying people she converses with, this practice so far doesn't seem too dangerous.
my mom was "dementia-like" for ages..i just didnt realize it- so i would get angry at all the mean and nasty things she would say,or get annoyed with the exaggerations,her physical complaints were a constant topic,
and all the drama she would add- ....--so reading your post made me think -my mom may
have had the beginings of dementia years ago--- but who really knows?
and then what- worry about it,? start those meds-with all their side effects,? or just continue our lives, although i wish i had been able to enjoy and appreciate -my mom more than i did in the past-- because
the future really hands out some low blows.....sorry to sound a bit on the dark side,
im just projecting-thank god for this site---it helps me to put life in perspective....i like the idea ,if the stories are creative, u might have a bestseller on your hands.....k
krnhersh, in my opinion ( at that is all it is, an opinion) it depends on the person's age and general health, but yes, I think it best to get dementia diagnosed as early as possible. If nothing else, you as a caregiver know what you are dealing with. You realize this isn't something your loved one is doing deliberately and you can tap into reserves of patience and tolerance you never knew you had. You read brochures and articles and visit websites and get a general sense of what to expect. You can join support groups of other caregivers facing similar things. Early diagnosis is good for the caregiver.

It is also (in my opinion) good for the loved one. Available medications, such as they are, work best in early stages, Why not take advantage of them while they provide an advantage? Waiting until later stage makes some of them unlikely to be effective. Demented persons benefit when their caregivers know what the heck is going on and can respond appropriately and lovingly. Non drug treatments also work best in the early and moderate stages and can help hold off the progression a bit longer. Wouldn't that be a good thing? If you have a terminal disease that is going to get worse and worse, wouldn't you like to have the relatively mild symptoms last as long as they could?

None of us can go back and change the past, and I wouldn't want anyone beating themselves up that they didn't know sooner. But for those who are wondering if they should have Mom or Dad (or spouse) checked out earlier rather than later, my vote is Yes!
middle9 It is always nice to hear about someone that is concerned about a parents health issues mentally or physically. Picking up on personality changes is one thing that is usually overlooked. It is easy to see a physical illness or a parent may even complain about a pain or ache etc., but if there is a mental issue (for whatever reason) there is a communication obstacle. Put it this way it would probably be easier to climb over the great wall of china than to communicate with someone on a logical, rational level if they are having a mental isuue. There could be many reasons for a behavioral health change. Thyroid condition, medication (wrong type,or not taken properly),sugar levels off, high blood pressure, cholesterol etc. I suggest you have her get a physical and discuss your concerns with the DR. he may recommend a neorologist(spelling?). I also suggest that you should not wait it could be something simple, nothing at all or serious in any event, it will be better for you and Mom if you get answers. This site is great for support. We are here for you. Keep us posted please.
9:

My mother is the Ernest Hemingway of BS. She's not demented, but her pathological lying has become an art form over time. As a child, she never got much attention except when Grandma smacked her around for being unruly. As a teenager, she tried to become a bully but got her a__ kicked every time. As a pseudo-Mom, she cursed like a sailor to get us to fear her and became physically abusive to let us know she meant business. As a wife ... I'm not even going to go there. Suffice it to say that didn't work either.

Now she's a storyteller and an entertainer. The craving for the spotlight and total control are still there. But she does it in a manner that people don't feel like slapping her face or cutting her tongue out. ... And she uses glorious food to hold everyone hostage and under her spell. It's amazing.

If there's a funny side to the corporal abuse inflicted on her children, she'll find it. The "prison" she went to Upstate NY was actually a home for pregnant girls in Peekskill; she was never a member of the Black Panthers either. The only gang she belong to were truant girls who cut school and roamed the subways with older boys in the '50s. She wanted to be accepted, to be "hip" so badly I almost feel sorry for her.

In her neverending quest for self-identity and self-esteem, she's become a legend in her own mind. Her IQ must be triple-digit. ... It takes a very sharp intellect to keep up all those stories -- and lies -- straight.

... I'm getting bored. Let me give her a call. See if she whips up some of that famous "mondongo" (tripe stew). Nothing like a little grease to warm up the cockles of your heart for a couple of hours.

-- Ed
It may be that her memory is starting to fail her and she is filling in the gaps in her memory with details she imagines happened, or is trying to save face to cover for her gaps in memory. I agree with jeannegibbs - watch and see what happens and whether it is chronic or progresses. She may need to see a doctor for a checkup.
I wish I could say the stories were interesting but they are usually mundane and incomplete. It's associative logic on a topic and becomes filtered through people from a diner, or a store she went in, or someone she barely knew from years ago. It becomes a monologue and doesn't have the kind of set-up that yarn spinners usually have. She really doesn't get mean either, only occasionally flies off the handle but that isn't unusual for her. I realize though that this isn't really harming anyone at the moment but I get a bit worried, seeing the effects of dementia in another relative and where it eventually led; a stroke, lower-body paralysis and lots of meds.

I appreciate your responses, gives me more to think about. She will be 75 soon so I will research what is needed for a test.

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