Follow
Share

Is that my responsibility? My mom has been commenting about how she can't understand how to do a lot of things she used to, like balance a checkbook. She also realizes her personality is not what it used to be (more irritable, unkind comments, etc.) Should I get her tested and have the professionals break the news, or should I kindly explain what is going on? Knowing full well she won't remember...tough situation.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
hi Holycow,
I'm a doctor for older people. There is a lot of good advice here on how to help your mother, but first & foremost I would agree with Ferris1 & say you should absolutely get her evaluated, to make sure there isn't something else going on.

Many older people have some dementia AND are being made worse by an untreated problem, so make sure she has a good evaluation for medical problems that make thinking worse. Depression is indeed one of these.

Very interesting that you find her better on Ativan. That's more of a tranquilizer than an anti-depressant, and it often makes older people's thinking worse. (Also increases fall risk.) That said, some older people have worse thinking when they are very anxious...I personally only use drugs like Ativan as a last resort in people like your mother; there are antidepressants like Zoloft & Celexa which can help w anxiety, although they do take weeks to have an effect whereas Ativan soothes people right away. And of course, the ideal thing is to find ways to manage anxiety that don't require drugs at all, such as regular exercise, relaxation therapies, modifying environmental stressors, etc...but all of those require more work than taking a pill.

I would certainly ask your mother's doctor if any of her medications are sedating or "anticholinergic", as all of these can keep people's brains from working as well as possible.

Good luck!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

As a carer in a Dementia Care Home, I would urge everyone who think they might be getting Dementia or who has a parent with early Dementia to go onto Youtube and read up the benefits (and progress!) of the use of coconut oil, as I am convinced of its benefits.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

i can reinforce what i just said with case fact. just took edna to doc wheras doc told me she was well into dementia yet the diagnoses on her paperwork made mention of gastric reflux, gait difficulty, fall risk, etc. not a word about dementia.
such a diagnosis could cause family to treat the elder like an idiot even if it were inadvertant.. my mother was more intelligent than ill ever be and thats the way i tried to treat her.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

i haveta agree with countrymouses comment. i dont think docs will breathe a word about dementia to family until it becomes unavoidable. in the case of my mother, she had a heart episode, was hospitalized and dx'd with late stage dementia. dumbass family members seemingly couldnt wait to tell her she was " stupid " . it understandably pizzed her off. when the time feels right i prefer telling the elder that their brain is deteriorating at a pace comparable to their other aged organs. aunt edna and i just quite comfortably had this talk. it was when she was lamenting about her memory lapses and swallowing difficulties. timing and tact. simple..
in the case of mom and edna both, we had this conversation at the time they were genuinely seeking answers..
then you admit to being much younger and dam near as burnt out and everybody laughs it off..
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

ferris 1: Another thought...My mother was diagnosed as having dementia caused by depression after my fathers death that was untreated. Now that my Mom is on anti depressants (Ativan at the moment) she actually seems to be more aware and more like herself, asking if I need help to cook dinner or putting dishes away etc. Is this "normal" where dementia is concerned or could it be depression that is being relieved by the medication? I guess what I am asking is could what she is going through be related to depression verses dementia? I know the MRI showed that her brain was shrinking and hardening of the arteries. Maybe it is just hoping there is another answer.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

ferris1; A thyroid dysfunction can cause dementia symptoms? That is something I do not know if it was ever checked on my Mom. She also takes Digoxin for her heart and the other day I was reading the side effects and she seems to have so many of them, I just felt sick. I do not know if the medication is her problem but I do need to check it out with her cardiologist. Is there anything else I should check into? I hate to think my Mom has been going through all of this because of medication or an illness that might have been corrected.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Last year my 86-year-old mother helped prepare her very complicated taxes for her tax preparer, a year later she can barely speak, can't walk at all, and is in a nice residential care facility. This can happen very quickly. Having all her papers in order (except one major bank account we found out) was of great help, trust, POA. DNR, her accounts already had my brother and I as joint account holders, and I took over her bills last July. She just got a walker last July and is now in a wheelchair. Diagnosis was NPH dementia (diagnosed last summer) which also affected her gait. We are looking into hospice services next week. Cannot believe how fast she has progressed. I would suggest getting a diagnosis ASAP for medication and treatment options, along with having all paperwork in order and signed ASAP. Just from my experience, I've always wanted to know as much as I can of my own diagnoses as well as my family's. Knowledge is truly power in this situation and you'll feel more in control.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Honesty, patience and love. Yes she might forget what you've told her, but at least you'll know you did tell her, before dementia I think most people would say they'd want to be told they have dementia, whether they'd forget or not. Get the proper paperwork done now for yourself, DPOA, a will or living trust should also be done now before the dementia gets worse. Good luck and hugs.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Have your mother schedule a thorough and neurological checkup first. Dementia mimics many illnesses. An untreated UTI in an elderly person can be mistaken for it as well. My mother had bi-polar which had gone untreated for many many years. She was back in the valium days. Meaning that when women tend to have depression pop a valium perhaps a glass of wine and the problem goes away. My mother developed dementia after being misdiagnosed. The meds to treat are not the same. Tay sachs and sometimes early senility, depression it can be other health issues. Please get a few opinions and also a neurological institute. I am still angry that years ago had my mother been treated for bi-polar, the doctor said she may not have had the onset of dementia.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

As "ferris1" noted, you should leave the diagnosis to a professional. You think your mom has dementia but you are not a doctor! Take her to a neurologist who is a dementia specialist or to an Alzheimer's disease research facility (always connected to a major university that has a medical school). Often the doctor will not tell the diagnosis to the person with dementia, leaving that for the family to do. I strongly encourage honesty! A person with a diagnosis of dementia simply must know what is happening to him or her., Now, if your mother really freaks out, simply drop the subject and never bring it up again., However, most people can handle way more than we give them credit for. When someone does not tell, it is because that someone is too scared to do so and has nothing to do with the person who has dementia!
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

If she has an awareness of her situation, she may be amenable to letting you take over her finances and other responsibilities so they won't be constant reminders to her that she is cognitively compromised. Even in people who are very resistant to giving up control of the more confusing aspects of their lives are very relieved once control is taken from them.
A diagnosis, while it should be part of her medical records, really did no good for my father. He got a prescription (which did nothing but cause side effects), but doesn't really understand the ramifications of his situation – he firmly believes that he's able to drive safely, for example.
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

Having been through this twice, once with my mom and once with my husband... can tell you this, My mom didn't believe me and didn't believe the doctors at first. She finally came around. My husband knew there was a problem before he was diagnosed and he was relieved to have an answer. Good luck.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

There is a lot of good advice in the above answers. Holycow is correct that you need to get the paperwork in order while your mom is still competent. My mom was showing some signs of dementia by the time my dad died in 2007. It quickly became obvious that she could not handle the checkbook, and we also went through the calls from questionable charities and her sending money to them. She even gave her credit card number to one of them over the phone. My POA allowed me to close the account and open a new one immediately.

My mom is still aware that she can't remember things and it bothers her. I just tell her that her brain in like a tape recorder that is all filled up after 87 years of use, and there just isn't room for more information. We laugh about it and change the subject. I reassure her that I am there to remember important things for her and she doesn't need to worry about it. She lives in an assisted living facility, so she doesn't need to worry about cooking or cleaning, or remember to take her pills. I try to reduce her stress as much as I can.
Helpful Answer (1)
Report

Unless you are a neurologist, let that professional give the correct diagnosis to your mother. There could be other explanations such as a B-12 deficiency, a thyroid dysfunction (either hypo or hyperthyroidism), a tumor, etc. The fact that she is recognizing that she cannot do these tasks is suspect. One who has dementia usually does not recognize the fact they cannot remember and then verbalizes it. Have her examined by a professional.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

If your mother is realizing her difficulties then I would call a Neurologist or Gerontologist who specializes in Dementia and Alzheimers and set up a consultation. When Mom mentions these difficulties tell her, "You know what Mom I am not sure what it may be but we are going to go see a doctor and see if he can help." This is what we did at the urging of my therapist who also worked for USC;s Neurological Department and they did blood work and a CAT scan I believe before he brought forward the diagnosis. Sometimes stress or medications can cause confusion so I would let him diagnosis it and let him break the news to her. There are medications that can slow the progression so the sooner she finds out the better.

Continue to laugh and joke with her and as Lucyboo said have a talk with her telling her that you are here to take care of her and she does not need to worry. If she does not have a POA yet, MAKE SURE YOU GET ONE FOR FINANCIAL AND MEDICAL IMMEDIATELY! They do not want to do this usually but tell her it is for the future, in case she should become ill, you will be able to help her. Let her know that it must be done now because once she is considered incompetent or with a dementia or Alz diagnosis you normally cannot get one as they are not considered of sound mind. I did not go into all of that with my Mom I just told her it was in case she got sick or worse in the FUTURE I would be able to help her. Also my POA stated that it took effect immediately, I did not need a court ruling as it seems some states do.

You must be very careful with her finances and possibly offer to do them for her. Money is what drove me to get POA for Mom. She was giving it away and I found a man at our front door one day and she had given him money and was signing a paper allowing them to withdraw money from her account monthly! I was shocked and knew I had to act immediately. Elders are very susceptible to fraud at this time of their lives.

My Mom was my best friend and I greatly enjoyed being with her. Her and my father were "do it yourselfers" so we did crafts and fixed things around the house all the time and we even built a huge storage room for my belongings when I moved home. Now she is very very different and not the person I knew. This job is very hard as a care giver and can last for a very long time, I have cared for Mom for 8 years, but also my father, aunt and BIL for a total of 17. If you are planning on caring for her and if she has any fairly large amount of money go to see an Elder Law Attorney for advice NOW on what you need to do to protect her money, and provide for her care. A whole lot of people wind up needing to depend on Medicaid at some point in this journey and you will need help so make sure you handle this IMMEDIATELY waiting could wind up being very costly and your Mom could end up without the care she needs.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

If your mother herself is commenting on the difficulties she is experiencing, that could be your moment to suggest getting it checked out. "Perhaps we should find out what's going on, then, do you think? Then at least you'll know where you are." You don't have to go into details of what precisely is being checked out, if it seems tactless. Get her permission to make the appointment, make the appointment and take it from there.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

My mother had these symptoms in her early 60s.
She put on an act tried to cover up etc but underneath was having great anxiety & depression about the changes she was experiencing. I was kind but frank and most importantly 100% let her know that I would support her to live as normal a life as possible.
She was so relieved and gratefulbas she confided that she had been so worried that no one would want to know her and she would be shoved in a home.
She since accepted that this was the prognisis and we have always acknowledge the poor memory and how her life has changed now which works for us as she really gets very upset if anything is discussed behind her back.
I have tried to normalize the illness for her instead of making it the taboo subject that it has been and she seems to feel more comfortable with this.
I'm sure each person is different, so I suggest to think about how this illness will change her everyday personal life/ independence etc and try to help her feel supported in those areas so she doesn't become isolated , depressed etc
Setting up day centre groups, outings with others in similar situations at initial stages can be very beneficial to them feeling part of a secure and familiar social group further down
the track.
All the best.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

I remind my mother that "we" are all getting older and "forgetting is just a natural part of aging.I make jokes about it and we both laugh. The worst is when she panics over that feeling of being "lost" in familiar surroundings, or suddenly not knowing where she is . I repeat and reinforce constantly that she should take a deep breath and wait for it pass.Of course one day that feeling won't pass but a reassuring manner on your part, a smile and gentle cuing will probably at least earn her trust and quiet the fears she is experiencing.
Helpful Answer (4)
Report

We observed the same things in my MIL. Explaining does not good, they deny, they don't remember and they don't process the information. We started mom with Xanax prescribed by her MD after he was made aware of her distress. Later we had to add Celexa. Her doctors never used the D word , they just talk about memory, ability, functionality and safety. I will caution you to watch over her bill paying, because we found MIL was hiding bills she didn't like. She hid the county tax, the water bills and any doctor bills because they were "too high".
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.