How did this happen so fast?

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At the age of 83 Mom sold her house after living alone for many years. During the wait for a subsidized apt, she spent most of her time with my husband and I. From approx Oct to April she spent 80% of the time with me. Once settled in her apt., her personality changed. Depression, followed by a suicide attempt. Fast forward 6 mo. and she needed to go to assisted living. Once in AL it was as though she totally gave up and wants to die. Doesn’t put any effort into trying to remember events and finds no joy or happiness in living. This all escalated in a 2 1/2 yr period. It’s really hard trying to call and keep in touch since conversation is too much of an effort. Myself and my sibs are finding it hard to engage when she makes no effort.

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My sister and I were discussing my husband's dementia. She said, "I hope if I ever go to lala land I just arrive there, and do not observe the journey." I think that being aware that you are "losing your mind" must be extremely painful and frightening. And depressing!

When was mom tested for dementia? Was this a psychologist or psychiatrist doing the testing? Were these short, in-office tests, or a whole battery of tests taking a half day? (My mother could pass the short tests well into her dementia.) But, if she doesn't have dementia, what is the conclusion about her memory loss? What is causing it?

I would say that the antidepressants she is taking aren't working, wouldn't you?

Here are some ways I think you might be able to help your mom.
1) Advocate for her for adjustments to her medications, since what she is taking doesn't seem to be working.
2) Sympathize with her feelings of losing her mind, and reassure her she is safe. Don't disagree with her when she states what she feels.
"Oh, sometimes I think I am losing my mind!"
"That must feel really scary. You are not really going crazy but your memory isn't working correctly now. That is sad! I feel really bad about that. The good news is you are in a place where they understand about memory problems and they will see that you are safe. They can remember things for you."
3) Keep reassuring her that she is safe and she is loved. She is still a great person, even with memory problems.
4) Don't ask "do you remember?" She doesn't want a test! Instead share your memory. "I seem to remember the doctor saying ... Let's see what the nurse has in your file." (This took me a while to make a habit. "I remember a time when you were trying to make gravy ..." NOT "Do you remember the time ..." My mother liked stories of her past, but, boy, she sure could not remember it!)
5) Visit. It can be very hard to engage with a depressed person, but you can sit next to her and hold her hand.

Keep in touch here. We'll want to follow your progress.
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Update, good news. Mom spent 10 days in a psych hosp and they changed her meds. She is back at AL and regaining interest in activities, her appetite is back, she is smiling and engaging in conversation. I am so happy and greatful to my sister & brother for all they do and have done. I live 100 mi away and stay informed by phone. I do get there to visit about monthly.
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Your mom may need to speak with a psychiatrist. But keep in mind that her life has made a 180 in the past few years. That’s hard for anyone to cope with. Speak with the social worker or director of nursing at the AL and share with them Mom’s mood. Are they aware of the suicide attempt? Was it genuine or a plea for attention? Did she have therapy then? Maybe talk to the doctor who saw her then. I truly believe your mom needs medical intervention.
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When did her personality start changing? April of last year? Did she talk to her doctor about this? Did you contact her doctor? Did she realize she had changed? What was the treatment plan after the suicide attempt? Did she see a therapist and/or is she taking medication?

You say she "Doesn’t put any effort into trying to remember events." And that may be literally true. Depression can make one that lethargic. But what if she really can't recall these events? They are in her brain, presumably, but she can't bring them up. Depression may be causing her memory loss, or realizing that she is losing her memory may be causing her depression. For an independent woman to realize she now needs assistance might be depressing, too.

It is really hard to engage with someone who is in the middle of a depressive episode. Depression often robs people of their initiative.

Many people on this forum have had experience with depression. I think we need a little more information about your mother's situation to give specific responses.
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They are aware of the suicide attempt. I have talked to her Dr and brought him up to speed on her past mental issues. It was a genuine attempt. She was at at a facility after the attempt for about 2 to 3 weeks.
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Any suicide attempt should be taken seriously, Your mother sounds depressed, at least. I don't see her behaviour as within the normal range of adjusting. Has she had a thorough eval by a geri psych or a neuro psych to rule out any other disease process like the onset of dementia? A physical check up would be a good idea too. Did they do these after her attempt? Is she on antidepressants now? Poor mum. She is having a hard time.
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Thanks, Cece. Did the facility find a combination a medications that helped her? Is she still taking them?
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Excellent advice as always Jeanne. I can't add a thing to that.
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Rezore, this is an Aging Care site. Go peddle your voodoo sh*t somewhere else.
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Jeannegibbs, she does take medication for depression. She also has panic attacks. She has seen a geriatric psychologist and was given tests for dementia and did very well on them. The horrible thing is, she is aware of her memory issues. She said she thinks she is losing her mind. I don’t want to pass this off as “giving up”. I just don’t know how to help my mom.
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